Archive for the ‘Data Privacy is a Right Schools Must Not Violate’ Category
Phillip Hamburger, law professor at Columbia Law School, gave a moving speech at Hillsdale College about the Constitution, also published in Imprimis this year. It laid out more clearly than I’d seen it before, exactly how the U.S. has strayed from our Constitution, and how it’s endangering us. His speech was titled, “The History and Danger of Administrative Law”.
Professor Hamburger made no allusion to education reforms, yet he wonderfully, as a bonus, happened to explain the foundational problem of the Common Core Initiative: that the governance system of Common Core is unrepresentative, unconstitutional and dangerous. Here’s how.
Hamburger explained that administrative law revives something that the Constitution barred: prerogative, or absolute power. He wrote: “Administrative law is commonly defended as a new sort of power, a product of the 19th and the 20th centuries that developed to deal with the problems of modern society in all its complexity… What I will suggest, in contrast, is that administrative power is actually very old.”
Old is right. Throughout history, countless generations suffered because others have wielded power over their lives. The whole purpose of the suffering and sacrifices of American pilgrims and pioneers was to escape unbalanced, top-down, often cruel, power. The success and freedom of the USA stemmed from the Constitution’s restraining of human power over other humans, and its strict limitation of its own government, and its checking and spreading of power, in order to avoid the cycle of oppression that the founders fled. The Constitution gives no lawmaking power to anyone but Congress.
Hamburger said, “Put simply, administrative acts are binding or constraining edicts that come, not through law, but through other
mechanisms or pathways…In a way we can think of administrative law as a form of off-road driving… For those in the driver’s seat, this can be quite exhilarating. For the rest of us, it’s a little unnerving.“
Reading this, I thought about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who drove off-road when he made regulations and policy changes to what Congress had long ago created in the privacy-protecting federal FERPA laws, so that he could meet his education data mining goals, which included (as outlined in his cooperative agreements* with state testing consortia) the sharing of “student-level data” –subject to law. Duncan had to alter that law. He shredded the previously protective FERPA when he made those regulatory changes. The Electronic Privacy Information Center sued him for it. But Duncan got away with it. Case dismissed.
I also thought of Duncan’s waving of money in front of cash-strapped states, tempting/coercing states into adopting Common standards and assessments and database systems in exchange for money. Off-road again. No basis in Constitutionality, just in cash.
I also thought about the little unauthorized onto-the-road drive taken by a little private club with a misleading name, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) which acts as if it were a legitimate voice for the people, as if it were Congress. NGA created, promoted and copyrighted these national standards, (the Common Core) as well as partnering with CCSSO in making national data collection standards (CEDS). The CCSSO and NGA hold no representational authority over education. It’s a giant bluff, and would almost be laughable, but it’s not funny, because it damages America.
I also thought about the blurring of lines of authority and power that happen with the creation of public-private-partnerships. When NGA and its sister-club, the superintendents’ club, CCSSO, partnered with the federal government and with Bill Gates to create education policy, Common Core bypassed Congress in two ways: by federal overreach plus corporate overreach –into what ought to be the states’ voters’ decision making arena.
Here’s a screenshot, evidence that the federal government has partnered with the private club that copyrighted Common Core and created Common Data Standards:
Remember our Constitution. It says that ALL legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress. Congress is supposed to make the laws. The Department of Education isn’t Congress. Neither is the National Governors’ Association, and neither is Bill Gates. Their assumption of unauthorized power over education policy, rather than having voters, via their Congressional representatives, to determine how education goes, is a clear corruption.
So what about corruption? Who cares?
Here’s why we must care. Hamburger writes that administrative law is “essentially a reemergence of the absolute power practiced by pre-modern kings. Rather than a modern necessity, it is a latterday version of a recurring threat—a threat inherent in human nature and in the temptations of power.”
He reminds us: “Early Americans were very familiar with absolute power. They feared this extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated
power because they knew from English history that such power could
evade the law and override all legal rights… Americans established the Constitution to be the source of all government power and to bar any absolute power. Nonetheless, absolute power has come back to life.”
He goes on: “ over the past 120 years, Americans have reestablished the very sort of power that the Constitution most centrally forbade. Administrative law… binds Americans not through law but through other mechanisms—not through statutes but through regulations—and not through the decisions of courts but through other adjudications. It… requires judges to put aside their independent
judgment and defer to administrative power as if it were above the
law—which our judges do far more systematically than even the worst
of 17th century English judges. And it is consolidated in that it combines the three powers of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—in administrative agencies.”
He concludes: “In sum, the conventional understanding of administrative law is utterly mistaken. It is wrong on the history and
oblivious to the danger. That danger is absolutism: extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated power. And the danger matters because administrative power revives this absolutism. The Constitution carefully barred this threat, but constitutional doctrine has
since legitimized this dangerous sort of power. It therefore is necessary to go back to basics… We should demand rule through law and rule under law. Even more fundamentally, we need to reclaim the vocabulary of law: Rather than speak of administrative law, we should speak of administrative power—indeed, of absolute power...”
Read the rest here.
Thank you so much, Professor Hamburger.
*Today, I noticed that the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia link says “webpage not available.” But I had typed it into another post, not in full but at length, if you are interested, here.
The Governor’s new budget plan is making news this week, with most of the tax surplus money planned for Utah “education.” That’s the governor’s pipeline-based definition of education, not education as most of us would define it. His “education funding” funds the state’s SLDS data-mining aligned programs made palatable to citizens and legislators under the branding of “education.”)
It’s tragic and ironic that the Governor has often said that Utah can get out of Common Core anytime we want to. The Utah Attorney General validated that statement in his report, saying that Utah’s Common Core doesn’t cede control to the federal government. (See rebuttal to the report here.)
But how would Utah free herself now of Common Core?
We’ve decided to sign away, in ink made of the sweat and blood of taxpayers who earned the hundreds of millions— any real possibility of withdrawal from the Common Core.
How would Utah ever get out of Common Core after recreating our whole education system based on the experiment of Common Core and Common Data aligned technologies and tests? (Not only that– we are now leading others along: Utah now gains millions by selling our Common Core test questions to other states, making them dependent on us for their own Common Core assessments.)
How foolish are we, to keep investing and investing— in something that was built on a sandy, utterly experimental, and unconstitutional foundation from the start?
The Governor’s even planning to hike gas taxes to support his enthusiasm for the workforce-pipeline version of “education”. The Deseret News reported that “The governor’s spending plan… puts pressure on lawmakers to look at a gas tax increase by calling for $94.2 million in sales taxes earmarked for transportation to instead be used for education.”
The Utah Board of Education praised the governor this week: “The Board of Education is very pleased that the Governor recommends such a large investment in Utah’s public education and its children. Like the Governor, the Board of Education believes the best educational policy in Utah is made in Utah by Utahns.“
Sadly, these are lies. The funding decisions aren’t set up to bless children. The programs being funded just promote centralized–not local– control.
This week’s decision to spend more than has ever been spent before on “education” is almost entirely focused on Common Core and Common Data Standards-aligned technology. These are D.C. based systems.
Aligning to these systems is not motivated by care for children. Foremost it benefits the market; secondly, it benefits Sec. Duncan’s and the CCSSO’s unconstitutional programs and policies: it’s top-down, rather than local, accountability.
This is far from being policy being “made in Utah by Utahns.” This is voter-unvetted policy being duplicated precisely from policies laid out by Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson Inc, CCSSO, Choice Solutions, Utrex, and the rest of the partnered organizations and corporations that profit deeply from Utah’s taxpayers’ gullibility and the same-ifying of Common Core (CCSS) education and Common Data (CEDS) education data systems.
Remember that Common Core/Common Ed Data financier Bill Gates said: “We’ll only know that this effort has succeeded when the currriculum and tests are aligned to these standards …The Common Core …when the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market… For the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers“.
That “powerful market” and its “uniform base of customers” includes Utah’s clueless taxpayers and legislature. Gates’ customer base is being funded by Governor Herbert to benefit the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. based, Gates-funded, private organizations behind Common Core.
It was Gates who funded CCSSO, both the CCSSO’s copyrighting of the Common Core and its creation of CEDS common data standards used in the State Interoperability Framework (SIF) that the federal government mandated for all states’ use in each SLDS “education” tracking database.
The Governor’s new budget gives:
“$500 million for the state’s public and higher education systems, bringing total state education spending to approximately $4 billion. The Governor recommends over $340 million in support of public education…Major investments include $10.7 million for the Utah Education Network (UEN) to connect schools by providing statewide technology infrastructure. [This is the SLDS database.] An additional $56 million …provides funds for buildings or technology infrastructure to small school districts… The budget recommends $1.5 million for innovative approaches and collaboration for
college and career counseling and $2.4 million for the Utah Futures website.”
These budgetary decisions do not educate. They strengthen the tracking systems, the prediction systems, the control systems.
Do you see the tragic humor in these words from the governor’s budget?
“Unlike those who want to micromanage the public education system from the state level, the Governor believes that the state should establish general policy goals and expected outcomes and allow local control in the specific methods of attaining those goals.“
The opposite is happening.
Utah’s SLDS database, which was built to federal specs, using common data standards (CEDS) and an SIF national-interoperability framework, from which no Utah school district nor parent may opt any child out, does not allow any kind of “local control”. Neither does funding “Utah Futures,” which calls itself the one-stop career and college readiness* website and which fulfils the Governor’s socialistic workforce focus that puts citizens in a cradle-to-workforce “P-20″ human capital pipeline, with central planning and far less personal freedom in education– just like China.
I wish our legislature were not afraid of offending those who accuse them of not funding “the needs of the children”–who give in and fund anything calling itself education. Funding for UEN, Utah Futures, SLDS technologies and Common Core testing infrastructures is not meeting children’s needs. Shame on those who say that it is.
Shame on this foolish waste of hundreds of millions of vital tax money on the shackles of Common Core.
*Career and college readiness, college-and-career-ready standards, and any other similar sounding word, means in the redefined langugage of the Department of Education, Common Core aligned.
I already had a sense of growing nausea attached to my observations of locals’ infatuation with technology-centric schooling.
It got worse when I read the latest White House fact sheet on Obama’s ConnectEd plan. Utah’s perfectly in line with D.C. –the cool people are dumping the old fashioned notion of using books in schools to spend gobs and gobs and gobbledy-gob-gobs on technology.
Both the left wing (Obama’s ConnectEd plan) and the right wing (Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now) plan to gobbledy-gob our tax dollars on Common Core-aligned, Common Data Standards-aligned technologies –always provided by the same little money-gobbling clique.
Even embedded in the Common Core tests and curriculum is the trendy party line that books are out –because technology is in.
I’m not against technology. I’m against foolishness.
Technology is a great, glittering servant. But it’s a terrible master. Its imperfections can be disastrous. But in Obama’s version of reality, it has no flaws and it deserves our full (tax dollar) attention.
In the White House fact sheet on President Obama’s ConnectED “Plan for Connecting all Schools to the Digital Age” we read that traditional education, the kind that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were raised with, is to be discarded for solely technology-based education:
“Our schools were designed for a different era – based on a limited school day and a seasonal calendar. This system does not take into account the constant learning opportunities of global connectivity…”
(Recall that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been saying for many years that he wants students to attend school 6-7 days per week, up to 14 hours per day, all year round. If you haven’t seen it before, watch that video clip here.)
ConnectED sounds appealing on the surface: upgraded connectivity, reaching out to rural students, exposing students and teachers to new technology. It even appears, on first reading, that ConnectEd promotes local control: “purchasing choices remain in the hands of local educational leaders,” it says.
But remember: when the Gates-owned “Microsoft and its hardware partners unveiled a range of devices at various price points to help U.S. public schools make the digital transition,” it promised: “all of the devices are Common Core testing compliant“. Is there any actual choice here?
Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) is the unshakable shadow to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) –both of which which ConnectEd depends upon, and both CEDS and CCSS come from the same people: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –a private, unelected, nontransparent club of superintendents, financially backed by Gates.
CEDS common data standards ensure that all state databases (aka SLDS) match one another, and that all student and teacher information is fully labeled and compare-able. Thus, there is no room for true diversity among states/schools in this system; no true freedom of thought, no true competitive soaring, just sameness. And because CEDS are used in every state’s longitudinal database, are interoperable with the federal EdFacts Data Exchange, and are no longer protected by federal privacy law, it means also: no guarantee of student data privacy.
Fact: “A continued commitment to disaggregation” of student data is a central goal of the CCSSO Council. These facts make national school interoperability and connectivity sound a lot less peachy.
Still, the Obama and Jeb Bush clique is pushing for a one-size-fits-all national, matching technology system. We are not just to receive the good things touted, like upgraded connectivity and new technology for kids; we are also getting shackled to the CEDS/NCES data collecting system and to the Common Core testing system, and to the corporate educational products that are aligned to these systems.
Additionally, under the misleading subheading “Restoring U.S. Leadership in Vital Areas” the ConnectEd fact sheet touts the end of using actual books in schools, as a good thing.
“The United States is now falling behind… In South Korea, all schools are connected to the internet with high-speed connections, all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.”
Why the hurry? Are people afraid that if they question the race to “phase out books,” they will be labeled “against progress” and out of touch? Are we backwards if we raise an eyebrow at the mad rush toward every student being hooked up to the internet? What are the unintended consequences and opportunity costs of phasing out books and tangible libraries to bring about the brave new unvetted vision of Bill Gates, Marc Tucker, Sir Michael Barber, Obama and Bush?
Studies show that reading a paper-and-ink book is a better, more lasting learning experience than reading electronically. For sobering reasons, top Silicon Valley computer experts send their children to technology-free schools. Education systems can suffer when so many eggs are placed in one basket– and the basket falls. When we become overly reliant on technology, when technology is hacked or when it breaks; when it’s philosophically hijacked by software designers employed by narrow minded politicians, or when it is aligned with consent-less data mining, what then?
Remember the smell of a book and the feeling of paper. Are books suddenly worthless because they are not speedy, networked and electronic? If we don’t invest philosophically and financially in books, soon there won’t be many around.
Please wake up, American leaders and Utah leaders. We can find solutions for increased technology, free from the Obama-Bush-Gates clique’s narrow vision.
Let’s hold on to real books, real libraries, and the time-tested culture of academic freedom and student data privacy. Let’s shake off the chains of common data, common testing, and common data mining that will bind our children down.
In November 2013, and again in June 2014, Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna rejected offers to participate in moderated, formal debates concerning the pros and cons of Common Core. He did participate in one panel debate, to a packed house. But Luna’s unwillingness to participate in further open debate is remarkable because, beginning in 2011, Luna was president, top dog at the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted the Common Core: Council of Chief State School Officers. Nobody should have felt more vested. This article, a response to a recent Idaho Statesman interview with Luna, comes by request. Thank you, Stephanie Zimmerman.
Is Idaho’s Common Core Battle Over– Or Just Starting?
By Stephanie Zimmerman, Idaho mom/writer at Idahoans For Local Education
In the Nov. 30th Statesman interview granted by Tom Luna, I was not surprised to read Luna’s responses to the following questions:
Is the battle over Idaho Core Standards over? “It is definitely over in the education arena. And my experience has been so far that it is primarily over with the vast majority of parents, but it is not over politically.”
How big were the Idaho Legislature education committee hearings on Common Core standards? “I think it was an eye-opener to a lot of legislators and even people around the state who tuned in and listened because I think you heard a lot of the concerns that were raised – that were then shown to be not true: whether it’s the data we collect, who developed the standards, who has control of the standards. I have yet to have one person who says they oppose the standards tell me which standard it is that they oppose … If we do nothing else in education over the next three or four years, but continue to teach every kid to these higher standards, then measure students with this better assessment, then that is going to have more impact on improving student achievement than anything that we can do.”
Where to begin…
Common Core is just now (in the past three months) being fully implemented in Idaho’s schools. How can Mr. Luna possibly say the battle is over –when it hasn’t even had a chance to begin?? Nowhere in the country was Common Core fully, fairly or publicly vetted or debated in legislatures, with parents, or with educators before it was quietly imposed upon us. Most educators and parents are still learning the full implications of the Common Core
. More and more
teachers are stepping forward with their concerns about the way children are being treated. Meg Norris
, Kathleen Jasper
, David Cox, Savannah Kucerak
, Mercedes Schneider
and Kris Nielson
are just a few who have made waves nationally by speaking out against Common Core. Polls show
that the more parents know about it the less they like it.
Common Core is about far more than simply singling out which standard we do or don’t like. It’s the reform package as a whole that’s the problem; the standards, assessments, data collection, tiered licensure (yes, that’s Common Core, too), and the star ratings system (which make our schools sound like a motel chain).
I wouldn’t care if these are the best standards in the world; I still wouldn’t want them in Idaho because of the federal strings and mandates that come with them.
Tom Luna is a man who was essentially defeated by Common Core. His extreme political unpopularity began with his 2011 push to pass Students Come First, a set of educational reforms for Idaho that weren’t even his or his department’s original idea but that came straight out of the national Common Core playbook
, and that only got worse as more and more people realized the role this former president of the CCSSO played in selling out our children’s future.
So, this particular battle may be over for Mr. Luna – we all know he’s moved on to bigger, better
things. But for those of us in the trenches, we know this is far from over. We will continue to fight for local control of our children’s education.
Unfortunately for Tom Luna, his legacy will ultimately end up as the man who sold Idaho’s children’s birthright for a mess of pottage.
Stephanie Zimmerman, author of this post, stands second from the right in the photo below.
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:
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.