Archive for the ‘FERPA’ Tag

Senator Markey: Letter to Arne Duncan Questioning Student Data Collection Practices   7 comments

markey images

Democratic Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey has written a vital letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the loss of student privacy under new education reforms. The Senator asks the Secretary eight great questions. My favorite is question #2.a): “Should parents, not schools, have the right to control information about their children?”

Senator Markey’s full letter is posted below. Please share it with your senators and with your state superintendents, who may, by their connection to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and its partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, have sway in getting to real answers more quickly.

Markey letter on data

October 22, 2013

The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan:

The efficient collection, analysis and storage of K-12 students’ academic records holds promise for improving scholastic performance and closing the achievement gap. By collecting detailed personal information about students’ test results and learning abilities, educators may find better
ways to educate their students. However, putting the sensitive infomation of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of parents and their children.

According to a recent article in The New York Times (“Decidir1g Who Sees Students’ Data”, October 5, 2013), a growing number of school districts are outsourcing data storage functions to private companies. This change, the companies assert, will “streamline access to students’ data to bolster the market for educational products”. While better analysis of student reading may, for example, help educators better target the appropriate reading materials to students, disclosure of such information, which mayr extend well beyond the specific private company hired by the school district to a constellation of other firms with which the district does not have a business relationship, raises concerns about the degree to which student privacy mayI be compromised.

Moreover, as the article cited above also explains, sensitive information such as students’ behavior and participation patterns also may be included in files outsourced to third-party data firms and potentially distributed more widely to additional companies without parental consent.

Such loss of parental control over their child’s educational records and performance information could have longstanding consequences for the future prospects of students.

Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permit “schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management,” according to the Times article. The infomation shared with private companies mayr vary from infomation such as grades, test scores, and attendance records, to other sensitive data such as disability, ­family relationships, and
disciplinary data.

In an effort to understand the Department’s views on the impact of increased collection and distribution of student data on their privacy, I respectfully request that the Department provide answers to the follow questions:

1) In 2008 and 2011, the Department issued new regulations with respect to FERPA that addressed how schools can outsource core functions such as scheduling or data management and how third parties may access confidential information about students. These changes also permit other government agencies that are not under the direct control of state educational authorities, such as state health departments, to access student infomation. Please explain those changes.

a. Why did the Department make these changes?

b. Did the Department perform any analysis regarding the impact of these changes on student privacy? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?

2) Has the Department performed an assessment ofthe types of infomation that are shared by schools with third party vendors, including but not limited to Contact information, grades, disciplinary data, test scores, curriculum planning, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities, family relationships, and reasons for enrollment? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?

a. Should parents, not schools, have the right to control infomation about their children even when their data is in the hands of a private company?

b. Do you believe that parents should have the right to choose which infomation is shared by schools with third party vendors and which is kept confidential?

In other words, is it the Department’s view that some elements of personal data are more sensitive than others, and therefore deserve greater protections?

2) Has the Department issued federal standards or guidelines that detail what steps schools should take to protect the privacy of student records that are stored and used by private companies? For example, are there guidelines about access to the information, how long it can be retained, hcw it will be used, whether it will be shared with other parties (including but not limited to colleges to which students apply), and if it can be sold to others? lf yes, please provide those standards 0r guidelines. If not, why not and will the Department undertake the development and issuance of such guidelines?

4) Are there minimization requirements that require private companies to delete information that is not necessary to enhance educational quality for students?

5) Do students and their families continue to have the right to access their personal infomation held by private companies as they would if their personal information were held by educational institutions? If yes, please explain how students and families may exercise this right and how they should be informed of the existence of this right. If not, why not?

6) While there are significant potential benefits associated with better collection and analysis of student data, does the Department believe that there also are possible risks when students’ personal infomation is shared with such ñrms and third parties? If yes, what is the Department doing to mitigate these risks? If not, why not?

7) Does the Department require entities that access student data to have security measures in place, including encryption protocols or other measures, to prevent the loss of or acquisition of data that is transferred between schools and third parties? What security measures does the Department require that private companies have in place to safeguard the data once it is stored in their systems?

8) Does the Department monitor whether these third parties are safeguarding students’ personal infomation and abide by FERPA or guidelines released by the Department? If yes, please explain. If not, why not?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please provide written responses to these questions no later than November 12, 2013. If you have any questions, please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender on Senator Markey’s staff at 202-224-2742.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

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Thank you, Senator Markey.

Alabama School Board Fights For Childrens’ Privacy   3 comments

Betty-Peters- -Alabama-State-Board-of-Education_

Betty Peters of the Alabama State School Board is fighting for the privacy rights of children in Alabama by requesting documentation about what types of information is currently being disclosed without parental consent, and to whom.

Below are draft versions of the requests.

For more information about the shredding of parental rights under previously protective federal FERPA laws, see the lawsuit currently raging against the Department of Education, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. I have written about this issue previously as have many other people.

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Memo to Alabama State Board Members:

Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of redisclosure of data, personally
identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demanding that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Members and legislators, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All meetings and debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not be used without the informed written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what should be done to protect student privacy.

Sincerely,

Betty Peters

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Request for Documents, Written Agreements, Cooperative Agreements

RE: Redisclosure of Personally Identifiable Information on Students According to 99.31 of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA Unknown to Parents and Legislators

Request the Cooperative Agreements between the US Department of Education and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to determine the use of redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.

Request the Cooperative agreement with the Department of Education allowing Florida to be the fiscal agent for each of the states in the PARCC consortium. Request the Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Education allowing Washington to be the negotiating partner for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.

Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Washington state as the negotiating partner, and WestEd, the project management partner, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Florida, and Achieve, Inc., Florida as acting fiscal agent for the PARCC consortium and Achieve, Inc as project management partner. Please submit all written agreements allowing access to redisclosed personally identifiable information , PII, for each state.

Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements Alabama or other states not using PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessment, has with the US Department of Education, ACT (Aspire, Explore, or Plan,) and/or Pearson, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII,
used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.

Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements with other contractors who have been given redisclosed PII on student data to develop curriculum, computer adaptive digital software, and/or any testing development. These “school officials” may be identified as private sector contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom an agency or institution has outsourced services or functions, including, non-profit organizations, corporations, or businesses to develop curriculum and/ or computer adaptive resources for individual students. These contractors may include Microsoft, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ETS, & ACT. Please submit any written agreements that allow access to PII, which was unlocked by order of President Obama, Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President, January 19, 2012

Request the purchase agreement and amount for each written agreement between any “school official” and the US Department of Education, PARCC, and/or Smarter Balanced Assessment, for the purchase of obtained redisclosed data on personally identifiable information, PII, on individual students to develop curricula or computer
digital programming or testing materials.

Request any Requests for Proposal, RFP, or Written Agreements between any private sector working group, defined as a “school official” in FERPA, 99.31, including PARCC, Smarter Balanced Assessment, Wested, or Achieve, ACT or ETS, who are developing and expanding Common Core Standards to new individualized criteria to “
improve instruction”, called, CCCR, College Career Citizenship Readiness, in which Citizenship, measures dispositions. Source: http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/ILN%20Knowledge%20Skills%20and%20Dispositions%20CCR%20Framework%20February%202013.pdf

Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements to test and measure disposition test items that are ” difficult to measure” and may infringe on personal privacy rights, violate federal law for redisclosing psychological information without informed written parental consent.

Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements that may be used as identifiers for interventions for changing dispositions or improving instruction, without the informed written consent of the parent violating privacy laws, personal liberty, and illegal access to mental health criteria.

Request sample test items or test blueprints with scoring criteria that will measure dispositions and values in the new College Career Citizenship Ready Standards, CCCR, that are being introduced to the Common Core Standards by the CCSSO.

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Working Draft:

Put this letter in writing to clarify requests:

Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of Redisclosure of data, personally identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demand that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Member, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not without the written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what
should be done to protect student privacy.

Other questions to be answered:

Was Congressional authority given to expand FERPA regulations concerning redisclosed access of data and the flow of personally identifiable information, PII to outside contractors?

Which federal law expanded FERPA to include all outside contractors as “school officials” to have access to personally identifiable information, PII,on students without the informed written consent of parents or legislators?

Why was the Hanson Memorandum rescinded in the ‘‘direct control’’ requirement contained in the policy guidance on authorized representatives allowing the flow of personally identifiable information to outside organizations, corporations, non-profits, and business to have access to personally identifiable information, PII?

Request the Presidential Executive Order providing that FERPA regulations were to be revised and changed to unlock data and allow re-disclosure of personally identifiable information, PII, to outside contractors.

Do outside contractors pay for the data? Examples:

• If outside for-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do these contractors pay for the data or intellectual property rights taken from individual students to research and develop testing, assessments, curriculum, and adaptive software to be re-sold to
states and individual schools for use in the classroom?

• If non-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do they pay for intellectual property rights? Are they violating their non-profit status to make a profit when these items that they are developing are re-sold to states and individual schools
for use in the classroom?

• Are individual states co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?

• Is the National Center for Education Statistics co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?

Whitehouse Unlocks Data:see source http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf

FERPA sections allowing Re-Disclosure of PII

§ 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;

( 2 ) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of

education records; and ( 3 ) Is subject to the requirements of § 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

§ 99.31(ii) Paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section does not prevent a State from further limiting the number or
type of State or local officials to whom disclosures may be made under that paragraph.

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

Without Authority: The Federal Access of Private Data Using Common Core   5 comments

Data Baby


On Wednesday, I gave this talk at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine. I spoke alongside Erin Tuttle, Indiana mother against Common Core; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Heidi Sampson, board member of the Maine State School Board, and Erika Russell, Maine mother against Common Core. I hope to publish the other speakers’ speeches here soon.

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Speaking with legislators in Utah, I’ve learned that the number one concern that Utah constituents repeatedly bring up to representatives is the Common Core and its related data mining.

Utah has not yet followed the lead of Indiana, Michigan and other states in pausing and/or defunding the Common Core, but I believe Utah legislators will soon take a stand. They have to; the state school board and governor won’t, even though the Utah GOP voted on and passed an anti-common core resolution this year, and even though thousands of Utahns are persistently bringing up documented facts to their leaders showing that Common Core damages local liberties and damages the legitimate, classical education tradition that Utahns have treasured.

My talk today will explain how federal data mining is taking place with the assistance of the Common Core initiative.

………………………

The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

So, I ask: Have voters given consent to be governed in matters of education, by the federal government? Nope.

Does the federal government hold any authority to set educational standards and tests, or to collect private student data?

Absolutely not.

The Constitution reserves all educational authority to the states; the General Educational Provisions Act expressly prohibits the federal government from controlling, supervising or directing school systems; and the Fourth Amendment claims “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.

Clearly, the federal government lacks authority to search private data, to produce common tests, or to promote common standards, yet using private institutions, secretive regulatory changes to privacy laws, long-winded grantmaking contracts, and a well-intentioned governors’ club and superintedents’ club as smokescreens, it is overstepping its bounds and is falsely assuming these powers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fully aware of these limitations placed upon his agency.

This summer Duncan made another speech, saying critics of Common Core were making outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”</strong>

I need to get that quote cross-stitched and framed.

For years, Duncan has been saying that, “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…”

Translation: Duncan and Obama won’t let pesky laws nor the U.S. Constitution stop them from their control grab even though they’re fully aware of the laws of the land.

Are they really collecting student data without parental knowledge or consent?

How are the Common Core standards and tests involved?
There are at least six answers.

The U.S. Department of Education is:

1. STUNTING STANDARDS WITH A PRIVATE COPYRIGHT AND A 15% CAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRACKING STUDENTS:

Why would the federal government want to stunt education? Why would they say to any state, “Don’t add more than 15% to these common standards.” ? Simple: they can’t track and control the people without a one-size-measures-all measuring stick. It is irrelevant to them that many students will be dumbed down by this policy; they just want that measure to match so they can track and compare their “human capital.”

The federal Department of Education works intimately with the Superintendents’ club known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After the CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the Common Core standards –in partnership with the governors’ club (NGA)– the federal government put a cap over that copyright, saying that all states who adopted Common Core must adhere to it exactly, not adding any more than 15% to those standards, regardless of the needs, goals or abilities of local students. This stunting is embarrassing and most state boards of education try to deny it. But it’s published in many places, both federal and private: That 15% cap is reiterated in the federal Race to the Top Grant, the federal NCLB Waiver, the federal Race to the top for Assessments grant, the SBAC testing consortia criteria, the PARCC eligibility requirement, the Achieve, Inc rules (Achieve Inc. is the contractor who was paid by CCSSO/NGA/Bill Gates to write the standards).

2. CREATING MULTIPLE NATIONAL DATA COLLECTION MECHANISMS

a) Cooperative Agreement with Common Core Testers

In its Cooperative Agreement with the testing group known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government mandated that tests “Comply with… requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… subject to applicable privacy laws.” Making student-level data available means that personally identifiable student information, such as name, academic scores, contact information, parental information, behavioral information, or any information gathered by common core tests, will be available to the federal government when common core tests begin.

b) Edfacts Data Exchange

Another federal data collection mechanism is the federal EDFACTS data exchange, where state databases submit information about students and teachers so that the federal government can “centralize performance data” and “provide data for planning, policy and management at the federal, state and local levels”. Now, they state that this is just aggregated data, such as grouped data by race, ethnicity or by special population subgroups; not personally identifiable student information. But the federal agency asks states to share the intimate, personally identifiable information at the NCES National Data Collection Model

c) National Data Collection Model

It asks for hundreds and hundreds of data points, including:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– and even cause of death.

People may say that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; yet it’s a federal data model and many are following it.

d) CCSSO and EIMAC’s DATA QUALITY CAMPAIGN and Common Educational Data Statistics

The Dept. of Education is partnered with the national superintendents’ club, the CCSSO in a common data collection push: common data standards are asked for at the website called Common Education Data Standards, which is “a joint effort by the CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.

Also at the same CCSSO site (remember, this is a private Common Core-creators’ website, and not a voter-accountable group) CCSSO we learn that the CCSSO runs a program called the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) with this purpose: “improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level.” – See more at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.L2t0sFCm.dpuf

The CCSSO’s Data Quality Campaign has said that
“as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the USDOE-CCSSO partnership.

And it’s already begun.

There are state data alliances that connect data in state agencies, and there are federal data alliances, too. In Utah, the Utah Data Alliance uses the state database to link six agencies that enables examination of citizens from preschool through the workforce. On the federal level, the Department of Defense has partnered with the Department of Education.

3. PROMOTING CORPORATE DATA COLLECTION

Data-mashing across federal agencies and is not the only way in which data is becoming accessible by greater numbers of eyes. It’s also across corporate entities that data sharing is becoming more and more of a push.

At a recent White House event called “Datapalooza,” the CEO of Escholar stated that Common Core is the “glue that actually ties everything together.” Without the aligned common standards, corporate-aligned curriculum, and federally-structured common tests, there would be no common measurement to compare and control children and adults.

4. BUILDING A CONCEALED NATIONAL DATABASE BY FUNDING 50 STATE DATABASES THAT ARE INTEROPERABLE

Every state now has a state longitudinal database system (SLDS) that was paid for by the federal government. Although it might appear not to be a national database, I ask myself why one of the conditions of getting the ARRA funds for the SLDS database was that states had to build their SLDS to be interoperable from school to district to state to inter-state systems. I ask myself why the federal government was so intent upon making sure every state had this same, interoperable system. I ask myself why the grant competition that was offered to states (Race to the Top) gave out more points to those states who had adopted Common Core AND who had built an SLDS. It appears that we have a national database parading as fifty individual SLDS systems.

5. SHREDDING FEDERAL PRIVACY LAW AND CRUSHED PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENT

There was, up until recently, an old, good federal law called FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. It stated, among other things, that no one could view private student data without getting written parental consent.

That was then. This is now.

Without getting permission from Congress to alter the privacy law, the Department of Education made so many regulatory changes to FERPA that it’s virtually meaningless now. The Department of Ed loosened terms and redefined words such as “educational agency,” “authorized representative,” and “personally identifiable information.” They even reduced “parental consent” from a requirement to a “best practice.”

The Department of Ed formally defined the term “biometric” on a list of ways a student would be personally identified: “Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or
more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be
used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include
fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

For all of this, the Department has been sued.

6. RELEASING A REPORT PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL DATAMINING TECHNIQUES

In his speech to the American Society of News Editors this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that there is no federal collection of student data, and then he said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

This was another attempt to mock those who are doing their homework, and to further deceive the American people. Because biometric data mining (biometric is defined by the Dept. of Ed as biological and behavioral characteristics of students –see above–) is exactly what Duncan is advocating. In the 2013 Department of Education report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” the federal government recommends the use of data-mining techniques that use physical responses from biofeedback devices to measure mood, blood volume, pulses and galvanic skin responses, to examine student frustration and to gather “smile intensity scores.” Using posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, wireless skin conductors, schools are encouraged to learn which students might lack “grit, tenacity and perserverance” in engaging with, or in believing, what is being taught.

Grit sensors

We can call the bluff on the Department of Education and on the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have no authority to gather private student data without parental knowledge or consent. We can help state leaders understand and fight against what is going on, and help them to say no to what the CCSSO terms their “coordinated data ask.” Strong legislation can be written and SLDS systems can be reworked to end privacy threatening interoperability frameworks.

Here’s a To-Do list for state representatives:

— We can stop the 50 states’ SLDS interoperability.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the Common Core tests without penalizing the student academically.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the SLDS tracking and surveillance databases.

— We can stop the educational and data mining malpractice that is clearly happening under the Common Core Initiative, remembering what Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University said: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

We, the People, have to call them on it.

Right Under Our Noses: EIMAC   16 comments

My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.

Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:

1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.

2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)

So let me explain. EIMAC declares, out loud, that its purpose is to network state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; EIMAC advocates to improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level - See the rest at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.UZIBs53C.dpuf

Ah, did they just say: DATA COLLECTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?!??

Does anyone remember that earlier this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a speech to the American Society of News Editors, in which he claimed that there is NO NATIONAL COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA?

Secretary Duncan’s exact words were these:

“Critics… make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

FACT: Duncan collects student level data directly from the Common Core testing consortia, as mandated in his Cooperative Agreement with these testing groups.

FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.

FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectly via the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.

FACT: Duncan has direct access to personally identifiable information indirectly via the National Data Collection Model, Data Quality Campaign, and Common Educational Data Statistics.

FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”

The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.

Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.

He’s done what he’s done with the blessing of President Obama, whose four pillars of education reform are stated to alter these four things: COMMON STANDARDS, GREATER CONTROL OF TEACHERS, and ALTERING OR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS, and DATA COLLECTION.

Right Under Our Noses.

Utah Student Tracking in Edweek Article   1 comment

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2013/08/utah_personalizes_learning_with_portable_records.html

This week, an Edweek article focuses on Utah’s “robust” data collection system and portable “backpack” records that track students. The article doesn’t mention the fact that parents were never asked whether they wanted their children to be tracked (stalked) by the government. Nor does it mention the fact that parents have no recourse to opt out of this state surveillance program. (I know this because I asked and got a response from the State School Board.)

The article also fails to mention word one about the federal shredding of FERPA law (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) that takes away the parental consent requirement and makes students sitting ducks for snoopy vendors, federal snoops and virtually any snoop who calls himself an “authorized representative”. Check out the lawsuit against the Federal Department of Education for more on that.

The article does expose the fact that “In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports” new recommendations will be “tracking additional information” which has long being sought from numerous federal education agencies. Here and here and here.

And Utah law has created “data backpacks” so all student data is in one place. Here’s the lead to that article:

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Utah Personalizes Learning With Portable Records

By Tom Vander Ark on August 7, 2013 9:25 AM Coauthored by Robyn Bagley and Tom Vander Ark

In October, Digital Learning Now! published Data Backpacks: Portable Records & Learner Profiles . The paper makes the case for portable academic K-12 transcript that follows students grade to grade and school to school. In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports, the paper recommended tracking additional information in order to represent a more holistic picture of student achievement–such as a gradebook of standards-based performance data and a portfolio of personal bests–and better capture the student’s progression at any moment in time. Since this data would follow students to each new learning experience, learning could be tailored to meet their individual needs from the first lesson rather than the extra time teachers must spend diagnosing student needs and abilities.

Robyn Bagley, Parents for Choice in Education, saw the paper and knew Utah’s existing data system infrastructure gave them a big head start on a portable record. She talked to a champion of Ed Tech policy and personalized learning, Senator Jerry Stevenson who agreed to sponsor a bill. Together they were able to knock out this groundbreaking legislation in one session, placing Utah schools one step closer to tailoring education to the individual needs of the student by providing those closest to them with access to meaningful data.

The Student Achievement Backpack bill, Utah Senate Bill 82, was signed into law in March. It provides for access by a student’s parent/guardian or school/district to the electronic record. The bill gives schools until June 30, 2017 to fully incorporate the expanded record into their student information system.

When fully implemented, The Student Achievement Backpack will use cloud-based technology to create a common Student Record Store. Senate Bill 82 implementation will occur in three phases:

•Phase one creates a cloud-based repository for all grades.
•Phase two functionality will expand the data collected from student information systems into the Student Record Store.
•Phase three will ensure final mobility integration of all required data collected in the Student Record Store into all LEA student information systems; and made available to all authorized users in an easily accessible viewing format to include administrators, teachers and parents no later than June 30, 2017.

… Utah has one of the most robust longitudinal data collection systems in the nation due to federal grants adding up to nearly $15 million plus an investment of over $6 million appropriated by the Utah Legislature…

——————–

Read the rest here:

TODAY: FEDERAL COURT TRIES U.S. DEPT OF ED. FOR DESTRUCTION OF FAMILY PRIVACY/CONSENT   8 comments

Today is big.

The federal district court in Washington, D.C. is hearing arguments today from Khalia Barnes and Marc Rotenburg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in support of nationwide student privacy, in support of parental consent laws, in support of protective definitions of terms.

So, who on earth is on the opposite team? Who’s actually arguing against student privacy? Drumroll….

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

Yes, really.

Read:
EPIC to Defend Student Privacy Rights in Federal Court

On July 24, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg and EPIC Administrative Law Counsel Khaliah Barnes will present arguments in federal district court in Washington, DC in support of student privacy. In EPIC v. Dept. of Education, No. 12-327, EPIC is challenging recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undercut parental consent provisions. In 2011, EPIC submitted extensive comments to the agency opposing the changes. After the Education Department failed to modify the proposed regulation, EPIC filed a lawsuit and argued that the agency exceeded its authority with the changes, and also that the revised regulations are not in accordance with the 1974 privacy law. EPIC is joined in the lawsuit by members of the EPIC Board of Directors Grayson Barber, Pablo Garcia Molina, Peter Neumann, and Deborah Peel. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. The U.S. Department of Education and EPIC: Student Privacy.

http://epic.org/2013/07/epic-to-defend-student-privacy.html

The big question is, why isn’t this gigantic, unbelievable story being covered by the mainstream media?

It’s not important enough? People don’t really care about the privacy rights of children? Parents don’t really care that their parental consent rights have been undercut by the U.S. Department of Education? It’s no big deal that the U.S. Department of Education redefined terms that include “directory information,” “educational agency,” and “authorized representative,” –loosening and widening each term to make students’ privacy easier to hack?

No big deal?

Shame on the mainstream media for blacking this out in favor of non-news, celebrity scandals and trumped-up racism stories.

Share, share, share.

U.S. Secretary of Ed to News Editors: Spin It Like Duncan   12 comments

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is angry.

How dare Americans demand freedom from nationalized testing, nationalized standards and data collection?

In yesterday’s speech to the American Society of News Editors, Duncan said:

“…This event has been an opportunity for federal leaders to talk about touchy subjects.  For example, you asked President Kennedy to talk about the Bay of Pigs.  So, thanks for having me here to talk about the Common Core State Standards.  Academic standards used to be just a subject for after-school department meetings and late-night state board sessions. But now, they’re a topic for dueling newspaper editorials. Why? That’s because a new set of standards… are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools…  And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.”

Indeed it is.

Duncan admits: “… the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we’re prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula.  So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created…Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won’t find it. It simply doesn’t exist”.

Thank you, Secretary Duncan, for pointing this out.

FEDERAL FINGERPRINTS

Federally created lesson plans don’t exist because Duncan’s department has worked so hard to get around the rules (i.e., Constitution) and to make others do the wrongs that the Department then promotes and funds.  The Department’s associates (i.e. Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Gates, David Coleman) work with Achieve, Inc., with SBAC, with PARCC, with CCSSO, with NGA and others, to collectively produce the federally-approved education “reform” agenda known as the Common Core Initiative. We know this.

But, thanks to Duncan for bringing up the term “lack of evidence.” We’ll get to that.

AUTHORITY, PLEASE

Duncan says: “The Department of Education is prohibited from creating or mandating curricula.”  YES!

Yet the Department has coerced and urged and cajoled  and bribed American educators into joining the Common Core State Standards Initiative, has funded tests upon which these standards are bases, and have mandated that the testing consortia must share student-level data with the federal government concerning Common Core tests. Just see the Cooperative Agreement for oodles of power-grabbing evidence that uses the tests as vehicles.

Duncan says there is no evidence of a federal takeover using Common Core.  Well, almost;  there is no trace of an Department of Education fingerprint on the writing of the national standards, tests and curriculum. This it correct.

But there are massive, unmistakable Department of Education fingerprints all over the promotion, marketing, funding and imposition of the standards on states. These fingerprints are everywhere.

But the Department of Education has been very careful to use other groups as smokescreens for its “reforms” while the Department oversteps its authority. It was the CCSSO/NGA that copyrighted the national standards, not the Department of Education.

It was David Coleman and his four friends who wrote the standards (with token feedback, largely ignored, from others) It was PARCC, SBAC, and AIR that created the common tests.  It was Bill Gates (who partnered with Pearson) to write the lion’s share of the American educational curriculum.  And it is the Department of Education that put a 15% cap on top of those copyrighted standards that they say are state-led.

EVIDENCE, PLEASE

Guess what? There is no evidence that Common Core will do anything it has claimed it can do does not exist– there’s no empirical data, no pilot test, no study to verify claims that the standards will improve diddledy.

We might each ask the reporters to ask for that evidence.

NOT RADICAL/ NOT CURRICULUM

Duncan says that Common Core agenda is “neither radical nor a curriculum.”

I beg to differ.

It is radical to create nationalized, (socialist-styled) testing and standards for schools in a land of liberty.

It is radical to shred the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) as the Department of Education has done, to demote “parental consent” from a privacy-protecting mandate to a “best practice” and to redefine protective terms to make them nonprotective, including “educational agency,” “directory information,” and “authorized representative.”

It is radical to carefully work around the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law’s prohibitions against federal control of education. For just one example: in the “Cooperative Agreement” between the Department of Ed and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government demands that states give conferences and phone updates, synchronicity of educational tests, triangulation of collected student-level data under the federal eye, and much more.

 

And Common Core is driving and creating a national curriculum, by encouraging governmental and corporate collusion to narrow and monopolize the educational purchases of the nation.

Duncan tries hard to persuade the American Editors Society in his speech to separate standards and curriculum, yet we all know that standards and curriculum go hand in hand –like frames shape homes, like hands shape gloves, like bones support flesh– standards direct curriculum.

As the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates, said in his speech at a 2009 Conference of State Legislatures, “Identifying common standards is just the starting point. We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards… When the tests are aligned to the Common standards, the curriculum will line up as well…. for the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers.” Watch clip here.

WE’RE NOT COLLECTING STUDENT DATA

Duncan also denies the existence of any federal push to collect personal student data. He says that critics, “make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

No federal collection of student data? What a huge lie. Readers, please fact-check Secretary Duncan yourselves.

Aggregated student data has long been collected federally at the Edfacts Data Exchange. Edfacts states, “EDFacts is a U. S. Department of Education initiative to put performance data at the center of policy, management and budget decisions for all K-12 educational programs. EDFacts centralizes performance data supplied by K-12 state education agencies.” Although the information collected here is aggregated (grouped, not individualized) data, this will change because of the federal requests for more disaggregated (ungrouped, individualized) data.

Here are some federal sites you may click on to verify that the federal government is asking for more and more data points about each individual in our school systems. Click on:

Common Educational Data Standards – click on K12 student and find personally defining words like “identity,” “parent,” “incident,” “contact,” “authentication identity provider.”

National Data Collection Model – under “core entities” you will find “teacher,” “student,” “school,” “bus stop” and other identifying terms.

And Duncan is surely aware that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which helped copyright and produce the standards, has a stated commitment to disaggregation of student data.

Lastly. A simple common sense test.

If Arne Duncan were truly concerned about the quality of American schools, if he and his group cared about the education of children and not the controlling and surveillance of populations, then would they not have pushed for tested, piloted standards that would have used, for example, the sky-high standards of Massachusetts as a template, rather than circumventing all voters, circumventing academic tradition, and using this literature-diminishing, algorithm-slowing, cursive-slashing, informational text-pushing, unpiloted experiment called Common Core?

So am I suggesting that this is a diabolical scheme? YES.

Duncan himself used the term in his speech. To make fun of those of us who see it as exactly that.

He quoted columnist Michael Gerson —President Bush’s former speechwriter— who wrote that if the Common Core “is a conspiracy against limited government, it has somehow managed to recruit governors Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, current governors Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce… A plot this vast is either diabolical or imaginary.”

Diabolical is the right word.

While Duncan and his education reformers may truly believe that socialism/communism is the way to go, I do not. And if most of America does, then let’s at least vote on it.

If anyone doubts that total governmental control of schools and children, to the detriment of families, is Duncan’s direction, view Duncan’s interview on Charlie Rose, where he outlines his goals for the complete takeover of family life by schools. Schools are to be health clinics, parental education centers, are to be open six or seven days a week and twelve hours or more per day, all year round, as day and night centers of civilization.

Folks, it’s not just standards.

Not by a long shot.

U.S.O.E. Informational Meetings on Common Core Tests: Clueless on the Big Issues   5 comments

Did you watch the Deseret News live feed of the Davis District meeting tonight?

I had an “A-ha!” moment, as I again watched Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education present information about the Common Core tests.

I realized that Judy Park just does not know the answers to the big, big questions that are being asked.  She isn’t actually being dishonest; she is simply clueless.  It’s tragic.  I feel almost sorry for her.

What makes me say this?

One example:  When parents asked about the data collection issue she seemed to be blissfully unaware that the Utah State Longitudinal Database System collects personally identifiable information on every student –without parental consent and without any opt-out alternative.

“There’s federal laws. There’s all the protection in the world,” she said, and added a little simile:

As banks can’t give away your money, databases can’t give away your personally identifiable information, she said.

Really?

– Does she not know that there’s a huge lawsuit going on right now because the Department of Education has loosened and ruined privacy regulations so entirely that parental consent has been reduced from a legal requirement to an optional “best practice”??

– Does she not know that the State Longitudinal Database System is federally interoperable, and that that was one of the conditions of Utah receiving the grant money to build the SLDS in the first place?

– Does she not know that the SLDS is under a (totally unconstitutional) mandate to report to the federal government via the “portal” called the EdFacts Exchange?

– Has she not seen the hundreds of data points that the federal government is “inviting” states to collect and share on students at the National Data Collection Model?

– Has she never studied the Utah Data Alliance and the Data Quality Campaign?

– Is she unaware that the Federal Register (following the shady alterations by the Dept. of Ed to federal FERPA privacy regulations) now redefines key terms such as who is an authorized representative and what is an educational agency, so that without parental consent and without school consent, vendors and corporate researchers can access data collected by the SLDS (State Database)?

– Does she not know that state FERPA is protective and good, but federal FERPA is utterly worthless because of what the Dept. of Education has done?

Ms. Park said:

“FERPA [federal privacy law] doesn’t allow that,”   and:   “I don’t believe that,” and “Personally identifiable information is not even in our state database.”

Dear Ms. Park!   I wish I could believe you.

But last summer, at the Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting, we all heard (and Ms. Park was in the room) when Utah Technology Director John Brandt stood up and testified that “only” a handful of people from each of the agencies comprising the Utah Data Alliance (K-12, Postsecondary, Workforce, etc.) can access the personally identifiable information that the schools collect.  He said it to reassure us that barring dishonesty or hacking, the personally identifiable information was safe.  But he simultaneously revealed that the schools were indeed collecting that personal information.

Sigh.

Why don’t our leaders study this stuff?  Why, why?

Even Ms. Park’s secondary title, which is something about “federal accountability” is disturbing.  It’s an illegal concept to be federally accountable in the realm of state education.  Has nobody read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution at the State Office of Education?  Has no one read the federal law called the General Educational Provisions Act, which forbids —FORBIDS— the federal government from supervising, directing or controlling education or curriculum in ANY WAY.

I am not the only one flabbergasted at what I saw and heard on that live feed of the Davis District meeting today.

 

This portion is reposted with permission from clinical psychologist Gary Thompson.

Gary Thompson:

I’m mortified at USOE.

I’m half tempted to shoot off (another) letter to the State Superintendent of Schools demanding that they stop all future “informational”meetings until they themselves either know the correct answers, or can be honest and simply state, ” we are investigating these issues currently, and we will get back to you when we know the answers.”

Anything other than that is pure deception, and if they (Judy Park, ect) are deceiving tax paying parents, then they should be asked to resign from their positions of trust. If I here one more meeting filled with deception and plausible deniability, I may take it upon myself to publicly ask for those resignations myself in a very public manner that will make the my Glen Beck appearance look like minor league.

It is just common respect. THEY asked for my letter of assistance and clarification. Attorney Flint and myself spent an entire weekend drafting it for them and the parents in our community.

Their response over a week later?

Crickets.

Not even a thank you note….and then they have the gall to present a LIVE feed to the entire State filled with definitive answers to parents questions that not only could they not answer during our 2 hour in person meeting, but asked for our assistance to clarify the issues they did not understand.

How hard would it had been to simply say, “We do not know.” ???
Ms. Parks response to questions regarding adaptive testing to children with learning “quirks” (out new name for disabilities) was so devious and deceptive that I had to turn it off.

Alisa Olsen Ellis, don’t you ever stop this fight as long as you have life in you.

God bless you.

-Gary Thompson

— — —

Please, if you live in Uintah District, attend the meeting about the Common Core (AIR/SAGE) tests to be presented by the USOE on

April 25, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the  Maeser Training Center 1149 North 2500 West Vernal,UT 84078 USA

 

White House Hosts “Datapalooza” built on Common Core Tests   10 comments

Did you see the recent view that  Missouri Education Watchdog has taken on “Datapalooza” at the White House?  Most telling is a pleasant sounding speech by eScholar CEO Shawn T. Bay, given at the White House, in which he states that although aggregate data (not individual) is useful, it’s most useful to look at the individual consumer or the individual student. He says, too, that  Common Core is so important to the open data movement, because it’s “the glue that actually ties everything together.”

Common Core tests begin in 2014.  The tests are to be the vehicle for the nationwide student data collection, both academic and nonacademic.  Without Common Core, the federal and corporate invasion of privacy could not be effective.  I do not think many people, including the speaker in this video, understand the underhanded (nonconsensual) alterations to privacy law of the Department of Education.

Here is the video.  http://youtu.be/9RIgKRNzC9U?t=9m5s

At about minute nine, he explains how the data push depends on Common Core State Standards.

Secretary Arne Duncan: Reading, Writing and Redefining Terms   6 comments

Words are powerful.

Redefining words is risky business because the redefining can change everything.

One who knows this truth is our nation’s Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. He has a history of going out of his way to alter the definitions of words.  He did get the Department of Education sued  for doing this, but did anyone notice?

Okay. Let’s start paying attention.

Our U.S. Secretary of Education has officially redefined :

1) COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS.   Did you know that “college and career readiness” can now officially mean only one thing in American schools?  It only means having the same standards as other states.   Odd!   Check it out for yourself.

2) AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE – Did you know that an “authorized representative”  has been redefined by the Dept. of Education (without Congressional approval) to expand privacy exemptions that had previously protected student privacy under FERPA law?  And reinterpretations “remove affirmative legal duties for state and local educational facilities to protect private student data.”  Yes, the Dept. has been sued over this.    Yet, “authorized representative” can now mean anyone who wants to see student data, even “a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions…”  A volunteer can be “authorized” to see personally identifiable data without parental consent.

3) EDUCATION PROGRAM – Did you know that Sec. Duncan’s redefinition of “education program” now “includes, but is not limited to” early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, “regardless of whether the program is administered by an educational authority.” That last part is almost funny.  But not.

4) DIRECTORY INFORMATION – Sec. Duncan made sure it would be allowable to “nonconsensually disclose a studentnumber or other unique personal identifier” and that directory information could include a name; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status,  dates of attendance; participation in activities and sports; weight and height; degrees, honors and awards received; and educational institution attended.

5) BIOMETRIC DATA -  in the Dept. of Education’s definition of “personally identifiable information,” biometric data means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.  That one wins the creepy award.

But that’s not all.

When Sec. Duncan’s not redefining words to loosen parental consent law over student privacy, or siphoning off states’ sovereignty over their own testing systems, he’s giving speeches.

Whenever he’s not talking about social justice, he’s talking about international education.  Whenever he’s not talking about international education he’s talking about social justice.

Arne Duncan clearly wants schools to teach global  social justice.  But what does Sec. Duncan mean when he says  “global citizen” and  “social justice”?

“Global Citizen”

In his speech at International Education Week, Duncan praised globalist Sir Michael Barber, and glowingly used the terms: “global citizen,” being “internationally engaged” and “globally competent,” and playing on the “world stage”.  He never once said “United States citizen.”  –Why the omission?  And what is the cost of this omission to students who will grow up without learning to prize Americanism?

“Social Justice”

At a University of Virginia speech, Duncan said:  “Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice.” 

At an IES research conference, he said: “The fight for quality education is about so much more than education. It’s a fight for social justice.” 

To the average American, “global citizenry” and “social justice” might sound like positive things.  But look them up.  “Global citizenship” ultimately submits American citizenship and sovereignty to a global collective.

And social justice means governmentally-enforced financial equality; it means wealth and property redistribution.  We are not talking about philanthropy, compassionate, voluntary giving.  We are talking about force.

George Washington explained:  “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a  dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

Teachers for social justice are to be  “change agents” to engrain principles of “social justice” to their young captive audiences.  Such children are taught that “justice” means government can and should “redistribute the wealth.”  –But how do you re-something if you haven’t done it in the first place; government bureaucrats didn’t give us land or money, so they can’t re-give it; they can only take it.  They can only negate individual financial status by assigning one person’s money or assets to another, by force.

Yes, by force.

So, how well are teachers and school districts following the advice of the Secretary of Education and “teaching for social justice“?

Teacher’s colleges are pushing it.  Parents –at least in some places– are fighting it.  Even our local school district  has a vision statement that says: “We believe in enculturating the young in a social and political democracy.”

At  http://www.radicalmath.org/ for example, you’ll find hundreds of lesson plans for teachers to teach “social justice” (which is redistribution of property and money) to math students.

There are endless books and lesson plan websites prodding teachers to use social justice in their lesson planning.

      

An unfortunate fact is that most teachers simply don’t know that social justice is not a neutral term; at least, it is not neutral in the way that Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Ayers, and other renowned promoters of the phrase, use it.

One of the leaders in “Teaching Social Justice,”  William “Bill” Ayers, a former domestic terrorist, explained (see video below) at a New York University “Change the Stakes” meeting that the Left should use schools to promote a left wing agenda. He said, “If we want change to come, we would do well not to look at the sites of power we have no access to– the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon,” but added, “We have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom…”

Such shamelessly biased promotion of left-wing idealogy is, sadly, what most “social justice” books and lesson plans teach.

Parents, read your children’s textbooks.  Tell your school that you want to start a parents’ review committee to study school texts before they are adopted.  If we sit idly by, the “teachers for social justice” who wish to indoctrinate our children into an overtly socialist/communist idealogy will absolutely get their way.

 

Department of Education Stealth in Data (Surveillance) Setup   50 comments

After a recent town hall meeting, I stood in line to mention to my visiting Congressman that the Department of Education had gone behind Congress’ back to alter FERPA (family privacy law) that circumvented parental consent and broadened definitions of who gets access to personal student data, including nonacademic and family data.

This is, of course, dangerous to student privacy and ultimately, to citizen autonomy.

The Congressman said he was interested in more information about what the Department of Education had done.  So, here is what I have shared, and I share it here, too, for anyone who’s interested in parental consent laws or student privacy protection.

The interplay of the several Dept. of Ed. actions  reveal to me that a main reason the Executive Branch alloted so much money toward incentivizing Common Core to states, is this fact: common, national tests will collect so much data, to be perusable by the federal government –and others.

“Others” will include public-private-partnerships (PPP’s) as modeled by global-education sales giant Pearson. Pearson’s CEA,  Michael Barber –who is quoted often and praised by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan– says that  education standards should be the same globally, and that global data must be  perused “without borders”.  See Pearson’s new global education data bank .

Arne Duncan  is aware of the limitations of the federal role in educational decision making and data collection, legally, in America.

Still, he meddled.  He altered the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations to benefit the Dept. of Education’s testing/data collection goals; the FERPA alterations will continue to benefit corporations, notably Pearson; and will link to various state and federal agencies under the Data Quality Campaign. Any “authorized representative” who claims to be a “stakeholder” –even a school “volunteer” can access the now loosened rules about seeing personally identifiable information (PII) unless a school refuses to collect it in the first place. You will notice that the Federal Register speaks out of both sides of its mouth about loosening and preserving privacy rights. It is impossible to do both, and the Dept. of Education has not done both.

It loosened the requirement that school systems previously were under; previously, schools had to get parental consent (or above 18-yr-old students’) consent, before sharing data.  It also altered definitions of terms including “directory information” and “educational agency.”  Very dangerous stuff.

The alterations by the Dept. of Education really need a context, to understand the motives, and why the Dept. didn’t wait for Congressional approval.

So, in addition to recommending you read the incredibly boring but vital Federal Register vol 76.232:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/html/2011-30683.htm  which laid out the alterations to FERPA– in addition to that, I’m also recommending reading:

1. A link to the lawsuit filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Info Center) against the Dept. of Ed: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html

2. A “Cooperative Agreement” – another super boring but vital “governmentspeak” document that shows the Sec. Arne Duncan micromanagement and oversight that the Dept. of Ed plans to have over citizen data, via national test consortia: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

3. A link to the National Data Collection Model’s recommended data points, for schools to collect (including health-care history, family income, nicknames, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stop times among other pieces of information on the student and the families. http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

4. The official White House push for “robust data” for tracking of citizens (students): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf  and by Sec. Duncan: http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html

5. The SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) information. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/index.asp  SLDS was bought with ARRA Stimulus money; every state bought one and they must be interoperable; they track students/citizens using personally identifiable information that includes biometric, psychometric, nonacademic and academic info.

6. A link to the Race to the Top application, since it shows that one of the points necessary was the SLDS people-tracking database. http://www.schools.utah.gov/arra/Uses/Utah-Race-to-the-Top-Application.aspx  The No Child Left Behind waiver pushes the same thing. See: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/federalized-education/facts-about-the-no-child-left-behind-waivers/  and http://pdflike.com/read.php?url=http://www.nsba.org/SchoolLaw/Issues/NCLB/NSBAFederalGuidanceDocumentsandPublications/ESEA-Flexibility-Request.pdf

7. Another link to how FERPA alterations of the USDE allow DNA, fingeprints, voiceprints and other biometric records to be used to identify persons. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf  This link states: “’Biometric record,’ as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.”

By stealth, and by financial incentivization to states (increasingly to school districts directly, in states that rejected Common Core data collection tests), it appears that the Department of Education used school systems to create a strong citizen surveillance web, better known as “robust data.”

It turns out that the Constitutional rights-saving fairies are off duty.  They’ve left it up to you and me.

We, the People, must call the Dept. of Education on this.

DATA COLLECTION UPDATE   1 comment

WHAT WE KNOW:

1. ALL UTAHNS ARE TRACKED VIA SCHOOLS USING A FEDERALLY PROMOTED AND PAID-FOR SLDS.

I have an email from the State School Board that says there is no possibility for my student to opt out of being tracked. When a parent signs his/her child up for school, the information is gathered and added to, throughout the life of that child because of the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS). The SLDS was paid for by the federal government and all states accepted the money and built this interoperable system. It works with the P-20 (preschool through workforce) council, which is appointed by the Governor.  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT

2. THE TRACKING OF CITIZENS GOES BEYOND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION.

The Utah Data Alliance, directed by John Brandt, links six state agencies to share the data collected by schools. These include workforce services; the system is a socialist program to align education and workforce and manage the people as “human capital,” one of their favorite phrases. According to a John Brandt online powerpoint, federal agencies also receive access to the data in the Utah Data system. According to the Joanne Weiss, chief of staff of the Dept. of Education, federal agencies are mashing data and are going to be “helpful” to states “wishing” to do the same.

3. INTEROPERABILITY WAS REQUIRED OF ALL SLDS SYSTEMS FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=WA

4. REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN ALTERED WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL CONCERNING PRIVACY LAW.

The Dept. of Education changed definitions and broadened allowances of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act. Though they have been sued for this move, the fact remains that without parental consent, researchers, federal agencies and any “authorized” volunteer can look at the collected data, which includes biometric information (personally identifiable).

5. DATA POINTS TO BE COLLECTED BY STATES HAVE BEEN “RECOMMENDED” BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stoptimes among other pieces of information on the student and their families. You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

6. DEPT. OF EDUCATION COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS CONTRACTED WITH TESTING CONSORTIA MANDATE INFORMATION SHARING

This means that there is a triangulation of tests, test data and federal supervision (all highly illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment).  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:

1. John Brandt has not revealed the exact number of people or agencies in Utah (or elsewhere) who have access to the personally identifiable information collected by schools on individuals. He does not return emails or phone calls.

2. At what point does “allowance” to share information turn into “must” share information? The FERPA alterations right now only removed the requirement for schools to keep the data on students private without parental consent. They have not yet mandated that schools must share the data without parental consent. But we also don’t know which identified information is being shared with which agency in Utah, or which agency outside Utah. We just don’t know.

3. What effect will the Common Core (national) testing have on the data collection and ease of persual by the federal agencies? Is there a “Cooperative Agreement” between Utah’s test writer, the American Institutes for Research, and the federal government, as there is with the other testing consortia SBAC and PARCC?

New Research From R.O.P.E Finds Federal Overreach of Children’s Privacy   1 comment

The “Restore Oklahoma Public Education” research team has done it again.

Read this tremendously detailed explanation of how the federal government is robbing United States citizens of their privacy, using schools as data collection vehicles and redefining even nonacademic student data collection (blood type, nickname, mental health) a federal entitlement.

 

What Is Going On With Pearson and Utah?   Leave a comment

Untangling the Choice Solutions/Pearson/UEA/Utah Data Alliance Partnerships

So today I’m imagining Utah’s State Technology Director, John Brandt, and Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber having a conversation over crumpets and tea about all the data Sir Michael Barber hopes to collect on the “global” citizenry –and how John Brandt can help. http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA

Brandt did set up the 2011 UTREX contract that allowed Pearson to design and deliver Utah’s massive data sharing project.  Then, suddenly, in 2012 Pearson also “partnered” with John Brandt’s Utah Data Alliance.

Meanwhile, not only does Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber go around praising Common Core and similar nationalized education systems worldwide while calling the shots for Pearson as its Chief Education Advisor…

 —also, Pearson’s Sir Barber recently founded a business in the United States called EDI (Education Delivery Institute) which partners with many state education departments (not in Utah, yet, thank heaven) to “drive delivery of the state’s reform agenda as outlined in its Race to the Top (RTTT) proposal.”  -Translation: to implement the federal Common Core.

EDI’s and Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber openly advocates for global environmental education standards, to be mandated for every human on the earth, as a priority over giving students knowledge or the ability to think for oneself.  He says “we want them to have some knowledge.” He calls his formula for all:

E(K+T+L)  Think I’m making this up? See his speeches:  http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA

Yet, John Brandt and the USOE apparently support Utah’s close partnership with Pearson and Barber. Maybe they don’t know what Pearson’s goals really are.  Or maybe they share those goals.

I don’t know.  But I think it’s strange that Brandt never responds to an email on the subject.

  Juggling all of that, keep in mind, too, that Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Chief of Staff, has spoken recently for federal agencies “data-mashing” as much as possible.  She’s also spoken about being “helpful” to states who want to partner in data sharing.  Nice.

If you’re interested, here’s the press release that explains (some of) it.

Press Release:  Utah Data Alliance Partners with Choice Solutions to Implement a P-20W Statewide Longitudinal Data System

Salt Lake City, Utah (PRWEB) February 15, 2012

“The Utah Education Network (UEN) working as a key partner of the Utah Data Alliance (UDA) has selected Choice Solutions to deliver a secure data warehouse of de-identified early childhood, K-12, post-secondary, and workforce data provided by multiple state agencies that will use this warehouse for analysis and research in support of data driven decision making.

Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W)…  The challenge is in the linking, in determining how best to forge the organizational and technical bonds, and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions. Choice Solutions, the leader in P-20W SLDS’s, has worked with 15 states across the nation to customize, integrate, and implement edFusion™, their enterprise grade P-20W SLDS. Choice’s level of P-20W data linking experience, in concert with the edFusion™ product stack, will serve Utah’s system requirements.

The P-20W SLDS project won’t be a cold start to the partnership; the Utah State Office of Education and Choice (in partnership with Pearson Data Solutions) have been working together for the past year to implement the Utah e-Transcript and Record Exchange system (UTREx).  UTREx is being phased into production with the core (collection, validation, reporting) functions having been implemented statewide in August 2011. In addition, UTREx allows individual, detailed student records to be exchanged electronically between any two Utah local education agencies (LEAs). UTREx is currently piloting submission of official student transcripts to any institution of higher education in the country from any Utah high school…  Choice Solutions is an end-to-end global Enterprise IT Service and Solutions provider… Choice has the privilege of serving many government organizations, including 15 state Departments of Education and numerous districts, regional education centers, and privately run agencies. For more information about Choice Solutions visit choicep20 dot com.”

(P.S.    I went to the Choice.com website and read that Choice’s partners are not only Pearson, but also CCSSO– the ones who copyrighted the Common Core, the ones whose board membership includes Utah’s Larry Shumway.  Choice also partners with the U.S. Dept. of Education.  –The point is that John Brandt’s Utah Data Alliance partnered with Choice/Pearson which is partnered with Superintendent Shumway’s own CCSSO.  And Brandt is a member of NCES, so he’s a federal and a state officer.  Unless I read it wrong.  See for yourselves.  Just google NCES and John Brandt and you’ll see how many speeches he’s making for the federal NCES nationwide. http://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/statsdc/2012/session_VII.asp)

Look Behind You   4 comments

The federal government uses lots of different agencies– but increasingly, schools– to track us. It’s citizen surveillance.  But they call it research.

I wrote to the Utah State Office of Education a few months ago to ask a simple yes or no question:  can my child attend public school without being specifically and individually tracked by name, school record, social security number etc.?

No.  The answer was, no.  Your child will always be tracked using personally identifiable information.  But this will never be shared outside the State Office of Education, they assured me.

After studying the NCES website, the federal FERPA website, the lawsuit between E.P.I.C. and the Dept. of Education, the machinations of CCSSO’s John Brandt with the Utah Data Alliance, Open Education specialist Professor David Wiley’s statements about the necessity of gathering data without parental consent, and Dept. of Ed Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss’s statements on federal data-mashing and “helping” states to partner with data, I do not believe the USOE’s assurances.  I wish I could.

Under agencies like “National Center for Education Statistics” and “Institute for Education Sciences” the federal government is asking schools to collect and share hundreds of data points about your school, your teachers, and yes, your child.

There’s a federal “Common Core of Data.”  There’s a National Data Collection Model that asks for so much private information about each student, way, way beyond math and reading scores– it asks for family information, languages spoken, health information, extracurricular programs, social security numbers, bus stop descriptions– you name it.  Right here:  http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary  There is even a private school survey– private, not government.  On the federal data collection website.

If you start to talk about it with people, they’ll pat you on the head and say, “Oh, but FERPA law is here to protect you; it’s a groundless conspiracy theory.”

When they say that, please pat them right back on their own little heads and say, “Federal FERPA regulations were altered by the Department of Education quite recently. Now definitions have been rewritten and parental consent has been shoved aside: it’s an agenda.  Not a theory, an actual, verifiable, factual agenda being pushed under the radar upon Americans who still think they are protected and free.”  http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html

If they haven’t walked away from you, talk on.  Say, “Definitions that have been reshaped –loosened–  by the Dept of Ed. without Congressional approval include such details as the term AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE– now it could be literally anyone, anyone who is authorized to view your child’s personal information under federal FERPA regulation.  Even a school volunteer can have access to a child’s personally identifiable data, including biometric, physical data like fingerprints or DNA.  If parents have allowed the school to collect it.  Unless our state FERPA can stand up to the federal FERPA.”

Your listeners will still find it hard to believe that this could be legal.  Then take them to this federal 34 CFR Part 99  FERPA pdf page and type in the search terms “volunteer” or “biometric”:

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf

The point:  unless many of us look at this and talk about it, and then stand up and say, “No way” to the absolute flood of data-sucking agencies all around us, that are aiming to know everything about everyone, via data mashing and data sharing, we will lose our freedoms, we will lose our way of life as we have known it in the United States and elsewhere.

Bureaucracies of mass data-collection and sharing grow slowly but relentlessly.  Will they build a web we can’t break by the time we think it’s time to fight back?  Will we be intimidated by the clever sounding “government-speak” and the researchers’ arrogance?

Or will we take back our identities, our privacy, our freedom?

If you have time, just look at the words they use:

“The Common Core of Data (CCD) is a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.”  http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/

“Policy Makers – If you are an LEA or SEA policy maker, focus on Chapters 1, 2, and 4 of the User Guide.
“Data Modelers – If you are coming from a background in other data model domains such as banking, healthcare, etc. and want to familiarize yourself with the education data model domain, read Chapter 3: How to use the Data Model. Review Appendix C: Common Attributes. Then go directly to the Education Data Model…”

 

Look behind you.

If you were taking a nice walk in the park and someone said, “Look behind you. There’a a fast moving river of hot lava coming your way,” you could call that person a liar or a mad conspiracy theorist and keep enjoying your walk.

–Or you could just take that one look behind you.  What would it hurt to just turn your head and take a look?  Do you really not want to know?

http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/elsi/

This is what I’m asking you to do.

Just look for yourself.

2012 FTC Alert: To Prevent Child Identity Theft at School   Leave a comment

FTC Consumer Alert:Protect Your Child’s Personal Information at School

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt056.shtm

First, here are a few bullet points for readers in a hurry:

  • children whose identities have been stolen usually don’t find out until they are adults.
  • parents have the right to opt out of allowing schools to share child data with third parties.
  • if you don’t put your opt-out request in writing at your school, the general public may have access to your child’s private information
  • parents have the right to see surveys and instructional materials before they are handed out to students
  • you have the right to ask to see your child’s records and to correct errors in them.

The following FTC Consumer Alert from August 2012 is reposted in full below.

FTC Consumer Alert

Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School

Back to school — an annual ritual that includes buying new notebooks, packing lunches, coordinating transportation, and filling out forms: registration forms, health forms, permission slips, and emergency contact forms, to name a few. Many school forms require personal and, sometimes, sensitive information. In the wrong hands, this information can be used to commit fraud in your child’s name. For example, a child’s Social Security number can be used by identity thieves and other criminals to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, cautions that when children are victims of identity theft, the crime may go undetected for years — or at least until they apply for a job, a student loan or a car loan, or want to rent an apartment.

Limiting the Risks of Identity Theft

There are laws that help safeguard your child’s and your family’s personal information. For example, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, protects the privacy of student education records. It also gives parents of school-age kids the right to opt-out of sharing contact or other directory information with third parties, including other families.

If you’re a parent with a child who’s enrolled in school, the FTC suggests that you:

  • find out who has access to your child’s personal information,and verify that the records are kept in a secure location.
  • pay attention to materials sent home with your child, through the mail or by email, that ask for personal information. Look for terms like “personally identifiable information,” “directory information,” and “opt-out.” Before you reveal any personal information about your child, find out how it will be used, whether it will be shared, and with whom.
  • read the annual notice schools must distribute that explains your rights under FERPA. This federal law protects the privacy of student education records, and gives you the right to:
    • inspect and review your child’s education records;
    • consent to the disclosure of personal information in the records; and
    • ask to correct errors in the records.
  • ask your child’s school about its directory information policy. Student directory information can include your child’s name, address, date of birth, telephone number, email address, and photo. FERPA requires schools to notify parents and guardians about their school directory policy, and give you the right to opt-out of the release of directory information to third parties. It’s best to put your request in writing and keep a copy for your files. If you don’t opt-out, directory information may be available not only to the people in your child’s class and school, but also to the general public.
  • ask for a copy of your school’s policy on surveys. The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) gives you the right to see surveys and instructional materials before they are distributed to students.
  • consider programs that take place at the school but aren’t sponsored by the school. Your child may participate in programs, like sports and music activities, that aren’t formally sponsored by the school. These programs may have web sites where children are named and pictured. Read the privacy policies of these organizations, and make sure you understand how your child’s information will be used and shared.
  • take action if your child’s school experiences a data breach. Contact the school to learn more. Talk with teachers, staff, or administrators about the incident and their practices. Keep a written record of your conversations. Write a letter to the appropriate administrator, and to the school board, if necessary.

File a complaint

You may file a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920, and keep a copy for your records.

For More Information

To learn more about child identity theft and how to deal with its consequences, read Safeguarding Your Child’s Future or visit ftc.gov/idtheft.

You may have additional rights under state law: contact your local consumer protection agency or your state attorney general for details.

About the FTC

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a <a href=”https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/&#8221; data-mce-href=”https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/”>complaint</a&gt; or get <a href=”/bcp/consumer.shtm” data-mce-href=”/bcp/consumer.shtm”>free information on consumer issues</a>, visit <a href=”http://ftc.gov/&#8221; data-mce-href=”http://ftc.gov/”>ftc.gov</a&gt; or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, <span style=”text-decoration: underline;” data-mce-style=”text-decoration: underline;”><a href=”/multimedia/video/scam-watch/file-a-complaint.shtm” data-mce-href=”/multimedia/video/scam-watch/file-a-complaint.shtm”>How to File a Complaint</a></span>, at <a href=”/video” data-mce-href=”/video”>ftc.gov/video</a> to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the <a href=”/sentinel/” data-mce-href=”/sentinel/”>Consumer Sentinel Network</a>, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

State School Board This Week To Determine Citizen Privacy   2 comments

    Okay, this is a big one.  A dangerous one.

This week, the Utah State School Board will meet to discuss whether or not to change state FERPA policy.

Once Utah changes this policy, it will be next to impossible to get the privacy laws put back in place.  And it affects every student and his/her family’s household information.

Please call or write the board and demand that they NOT change our protective state FERPA policy to match the new, questionably legal, federal FERPA regulatory changes.

Why do I say “questionably legal federal changes?”

Congress made the original FERPA law many years ago to protect citizen privacy.  But recently, the Department of Education overstepped its authority in making regulatory changes to FERPA.  Regulations are not as binding as law. But the regulatory changes are being seen by some as federal mandates.

   Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s actions have been so shockingly unacceptable to some (including me) that the Department of Education has been sued.  Yes, sued.  The lawsuit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and it’s in full gear, with an undetermined outcome.  If EPIC wins, the Dept. of Education will have to repeal its regulatory changes to federal protective FERPA law.

Why does anyone want to REMOVE parental consent over student privacy?

They want to make the government more powerful than parents for “research-based” reasons, they say.

They want the government to be able to study our data without interference or permission. And they assure us that this power will never be misused.  Hmmm.

Last month at the State School Board Meeting the changes relevant to  Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s new regulations of FERPA were discussed.
  Larry Shumway, Director of State School Board/ Superintendent
The State School Board decided to table the issue until this month as they wanted to review information on it.  Our Wasatch Superintendent was at the State School Board testifying about our local FERPA policy.  Wasatch local school board had changed our policy so that it had no protection in the spring, but thanks to great participation of emails from many citizens, the policy was changed again and strengthened.  Thanks to Renee Braddy for gathering information, teaching citizens and leading this charge.
Since that time, people who have talked directly to the US Department of Ed, verifying the fact that the new FERPA policy does not protect, but in fact loosens, the restrictions so more data can be collected without our knowledge.  If you would like to learn more about it directly from the US Dept. of Ed.  You can call this number and ask for Ellen Campbell in their FERPA policy division. 1-800-872-5327.
What we need to do now is to write the State School Board Members and ask them to leave our current State FERPA policy in place.  We have a good State Policy.  PLEASE NOTE – the new federal policy is VOLUNTARY.
You will be told that it is not, but you can verify that for yourself by calling the number above.  Superintendent Larry Shumway responded in an email to Renee Braddy that it was truly voluntary.  James Judd, Student Service Director, Wasatch County, stated publicy that indeed this policy does loosen the protections.
Be firm but polite. Remember that emails that are too long don’t get read:)
STATE SCHOOL BOARD -Board@schools.utah.gov  This will reach every member of the school board.
Another interesting point to note is that John Brandt, the technology director for all Utah schools and director of the inter-agency Utah Data Alliance, is a federal government worker and NGO officer via his membership in NCEE and his chair position on the Council of Chief State School Officers.  He is a man who feels great about Utah sharing data with the feds.  And he doesn’t answer emails on the subject. Ever.
Additional Research about FERPA- put together by Renee Braddy:

FERPA stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (20 U.S.C. 1232g (US Code)

It was originally put into law in 1974 at the federal level to limit the amount of children’s personally identifiable information that could be given without parental consent.

(Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions)

There are federal and state FERPA laws, as well as district FERPA policies.   In 2011, the US Dept. of Education created a new FERPA regulation that went into effect Jan. 3, 2012.  Regulations are usually created by non-elected departments and therefore DO NOT pass through congress, but in essence they are observed the same as law.

The US Dept. of Education created this new regulation (34 CFR Part 99) which significantly broadens the definition of “personally identifiable information” as well as the term “authorized representatives”.

According to the regulation, “personally identifiable information” includes:

The term includes, but is not limited to—

(a)  The student’s name;

(b)  The name of the student’s parent or other family members;

(c)  The address of the student or student’s family;

(d)  A personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record;

(e)  Other indirect identifiers, such as the student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name;

(f)  Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or 

(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.

Wondering what in the world “biometric record” means and what is includes?

Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

This allows for a collection of personal health records!

As a parent, I had to ask myself, to whom is this information being given?  The answer is found in the regulation with the definition of “Authorized representative”

Authorized representative” means any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in § 99.31(a)(3) to conduct – with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs – any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.

So, our children’s personal information can be given to:  Pretty much anyone without parental consent.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  FERPA FINAL REGULATIONS

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf

Specifically, we have modified the definition of and requirements related to ‘‘directory information’’ to clarify (1) that the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information under FERPA does not include the right to refuse to wear, or otherwise disclose, a student identification (ID) card or badge;

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/2012-final-regs.pdf

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

What is predictive testing? Here’s one definition from Wikipedia.

Predictive testing is a form of genetic testing. It is also known as presymptomatic testing. These types of testing are used to detect gene mutations associated with disorders that appear after birth, often later in life. These tests can be helpful to people who have a family member with a genetic disorder, but who have no features of the disorder themselves at the time of testing. Predictive testing can identify mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing disorders with a genetic basis, such as certain types of cancer. For example, an individual with a mutation in BRCA1 has a 65% cumulative risk of breast cancer. Presymptomatic testing can determine whether a person will develop a genetic disorder, such as hemochromatosis (an iron overload disorder), before any signs or symptoms appear. The results of predictive and presymptomatic testing can provide information about a person’s risk of developing a specific disorder and help with making decisions about medical care.

Why would the federal government want to track genetic and medical information coupled with educational information in a cradle to grave longitudinal database? Why is the Gates Foundation funding biometric tracking? Why is the Gates Foundation also co-hosting the London International Eugenics Conference with Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) next month? Why would the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius (responsible for the FERPA changes listed above) be offering $75 million in grants for schools to open health clinics inside their schools away from parental oversight?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the federal government is in the business of control and not pure education. Why aren’t Utah leaders moving to protect Utahn’s from these overreaches of the federal government?  Gates Foundation paid nearly $20 million to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization to prompt them to create Common Core. Schools will soon be the ultimate laboratories in fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s dream for creating central planning for the American workforce.

–Many people contributed to the writing of this post.

Common Core Discussion at Wasatch Bagel Cafe in Park City   Leave a comment

   Democrats, Republicans and others packed the Wasatch Bagel Cafe in Park City to standing room only last night in an effort to learn the pros and cons of Utah’s membership in the Common Core Movement.  Common Core is a set of national standards and common tests that was initiated by states, is incentivized and promoted by the federal government, and is backed financially by private interest groups, largely by Bill Gates.

Wasatch Representative Kraig Powell, Senate Education Committee Chair Aaron Osmond, House Committee Chair Francis Gibbons, and Joel Briscoe, also of the Utah Legislature, led the meeting.  None of the four vocalized a strong stand for or against the Common Core Initiative.  Questions and comments by citizens generally addressed the questions of whether local autonomy and control over educational standards and good education would be available with Common Core.

Doctor and Park City citizen John Zimmerman said, “We don’t need the federal government in education,” and asked why the Common Core educational movement was involved with the federal government.  Aaron Osmond responded that the movement did not start out being federally led but the federal government has taken advantage of the movement.  Kraig Powell added that it’s as if we were headed down the road in a small car and the federal government came along with a faster car and we got in.

  Representative Kraig Powell said that raising educational standards is an important and laudable goal.  He said that he trusts people and feels that as long as there is plenty of public discussion, Utah will come up with something we can all live with.  He voiced concern about the Department of Education’s use of “shall” language in the No Child Left Behind waivers that push states toward Common Core.  He mentioned that there was a larger legislative turnout than he’d ever seen last month when four national educational experts spoke against Common Core at a legislators’ lunch and at another public forum.  He emphasized that there must be lots of input and study so people’s voices can be heard. (Currently, few citizens know what Common Core is.)  Powell also noted that just as Medicaid has put mandates on Utah which come with funding concerns many Utahns are not comfortable with, there is a concern that the same demoralization of teachers and the same costly requirements may happen with Common Core that were problematic with No Child Left Behind.

  Senate Education Committee Chair Aaron Osmond said that the Utah Constitution allows the state school board a lot of power. He voiced a concern that we must preserve state sovereignty and the right to control standards in our state, saying, “If we lose that, I concur that it’s wrong.”

  Newly appointed chair of the Utah House Education Committee, Francis Gibson, said that both the pro and con sides of the Common Core have arguments that make sense.  He liked the fact that the standards promised not to dictate curriculum and hoped there was a way to fix the low portion of the math segments of Common Core.  He did not mention whether there was a way to amend standards under the common core contractual documents.

  Representative Joel Briscoe said that his entire family, including himself, consists of teachers.  While the Common Core requires students to read less literature, he felt that fact did not represent any lowering of standards.  He addressed the fact that at the high school level, 70% of English language readings are to be informational text with only 30% being allowed to be classic literature readings.  He supports the less-literature, more-informational text shift.  He did not address Common Core’s shift away from narrative writing.  He did not address the non-amendability of the reading and writing standards.

  Heber citizen Anissa Wardell asked what the legislators’ stand was on data collection, including personally identifiable student information, to be gathered without parental consent, a concern connected to Common Core reforms.  Kraig Powell responded that we have to ask ourselves whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the P-20 systems and/or private entities track a child from before kindergarten through college and work.  He did not take a stand on the question.

All four legislators said they applauded the effort of the Utah State School Board in attempting to raise educational standards for Utah.

Can FERPA (parental consent and privacy law) and SLDS (student tracking) Coexist?   7 comments

I didn’t make up this question:  “Can FERPA and SLDS coexist?”.

It’s in a white paper written by ESP solutions group, called “Could FERPA halt your SLDS:  A Mini-Guide That Explores Potential FERPA Roadblocks Disruptive to Your SLDS Project,”directed at state leaders who are attempting to data-mash their state agencies’ systems.

http://www.espsolutionsgroup.com/espweb/assets/files/Could_FERPA_%20halt_your_LDS.pdf

(I’m guessing readers of this document are people like  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dept. of Education Chief of Staff J. Weiss, Utah Technology Director John Brandt, Utah School Superintendent Larry Shumway, the USOE, and folks like Professor David Wiley.  I add in Wiley because he’s partnered with USOE to write Common Core books and has publically said he is FOR going behind parents’ backs to get access to student data for research purposes.)

FYI- Data systems mashing and meshing is also soon to be done with federal data systems, not just state SLDS, according to a recent statement by J. Weiss, the Chief of Staff of the Department of Education.

The ESP white paper shows the disregard the movement has for individual privacy –calling privacy law, FERPA, a “roadblock”– and it shows the conflict the data-seeking SLDS/P-20 crowd feels toward traditional privacy law, such as the Congressionally approved and created FERPA as it was originally written in the 70′s by people who actually respected parental consent law and student privacy.

Remember, though, that the Dept of Education has altered FERPA to empower the data-mashing gang i.e., Arne Duncan, President Obama, John Brandt, Shumway, Weiss and Wiley. The Dept. of ED has been sued for doing so, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (thank heaven and hope they win.)

What meaning do I make of it?

The good news is, FERPA still has the data-hungry, big-government educrats scared.  Remember: state FERPA laws have not changed although federal regulations to FERPA did.

The bad news is, there are individuals and whole organizations like ESP or David Wiley, getting paid by our government (by us)  to think of ways of getting around family privacy law so that without our consent, they can access private information– in the guise of caring for our students and with the good intentions of any non-elected, self-appointed stakeholder/decisionmaker over other people’s children.

http://www.espsolutionsgroup.com/espweb/assets/files/Could_FERPA_%20halt_your_LDS.pdf

Now that the state admits they track PII on every kid, and our feds have requested data mashing…   Leave a comment

Dear Lorraine,
Thank you!  I appreciate you going to the effort to find the answer to my question. I have a follow-up question.
The Associate Superintendent over data collection said that USOE does not release student level data; could you tell me how long that policy will remain in place and where I can find it in written form?  Thank you.
I am concerned with this question because Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Education Department’s chief of staff, said that information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB )
Another source confirms this trend:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
It says, “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner.
Added to these facts is the fact that recent changes were made by the Department of Education to FERPA (privacy laws/regulations) that remove the necessity for researchers to gather parental or student consent prior to accessing personally identifiable information (PII).
So the only thing standing between our students’ PII and interstate, intrastate and federal persual (including entrepreneurs and both governmental and nongovernmental researchers) is local policy.
That is why I’d like to see what that policy is, and when it’s due to expire.
Thank you very much.  I appreciate your time.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey
On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM, Austin, Lorraine <Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov> wrote:

Christel,

I have consulted with the Associate Superintendent in the office over data collection, and have received the following answer to your question:

All students who attend public schools have their data submitted to USOE for multiple purposes including accountability and monitoring aggregate student progress.  USOE does not release student level data.  Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.  Current state and federal accountability requires that a minimum of 95% of students participate in all assessment programs.

Lorraine

Lorraine Austin, Secretary to the Board

Utah State Board of Education

PO Box 144200

Salt Lake City, UT  84114-4200

(801) 538-7517

From: Christel  Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 1:07 PM To: Board of Education; Shumway, Larry; Park, Judy; Hales, Brenda Subject: Second Request for a Yes or No

Dear Board,

Last week, I asked a simple yes or no question.  I received one response, and that board member did not say yes or not, but said he’d forward my question to Judy Park’s secretary.  I still have no answer.

The question is simple:  Is it possible for a student in Utah to attend public school and not be tracked by the P-20 and SLDS tracking systems?

Thanks.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

 

Let Freedom Ring In Education!   1 comment

  We have to get rid of the Common Core Initiative  –if we actually care about quality education and freedom over education.

Why?

I’ll start with a little intro– why I care:

I  hold an up-to-date Utah Level II teaching license and I have nine years of experience in classrooms. I’m currently a stay-home-mother.  My most recent teaching position was Adjunct Professor of English at Utah Valley University, where I taught Freshman English and remedial Basic Composition.  Teaching remedial English showed me that the educators’ cry for better prepared students is a real concern, not to be lightly dismissed.

Having studied the Common Core Initiative closely, however, I have come to the conclusion that Common Core is not the answer to the real educational problems we face. The Common Core educational standards present a sobering danger to quality education.  They are unproven, at best.  They are a dumbing down, at worst.

    As an English teacher, my concern is that by mandating the removal of narrative writing and greatly reducing the amount of classic literature that is permitted in Utah English classrooms, we have robbed our students of literary history, culture and the intangible values that cannot be imparted through informational texts and informational writing.  Is the slashing of time allotted for English literature much different from actual book burning, in its effect on students’ thoughts?

Common Core seems to take from, rather than give to students.  Professor Michael Kirst of Stanford University noted that “the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges.”  This is one of the most sobering criticisms of the damage and dumbing down Common Core standards may do.

Regardless of who wins the argument about whether the national standards will be better or worse than Utah’s previous standards, the fact remains that the national educational standards are, to Utah, utterly meaningless:  there is no local political power over them; they can be changed at any time, but not by us.

Reclaiming Educational Freedom:

It seems that reversing the adoption of Common Core is both an educational and a Constitutional imperative.

    Reclaiming educational freedom and educational quality for Utah will meanwe have to : 1) withdraw from the SBAC testing consortium, 2) withdraw from Common Core national standards, 3) resubmit Utah’s ESEA Flexibility waiver request to choose state-unique standards, option 2, “standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”  and 4) creating legitimate, freed standards.

Toward those ends, this post will give evidence that the Department of Education’s reforms harm local freedom and education, all spearheaded by the Common Core Initiative.  These reforms have reduced Utah’s educational decision-making capacity without public knowledge or a vote;  have reduced, rather than improving, educational quality; and will expose students and families to unprecedented privacy intrusions by state, federal and nongovernmental entities, to be accessed without parental consent.

This post will also look at  efforts other states have made to reclaim local control of education.

 

Unconstitutionality of Common Core

The unconstitutionality of Common Core is clear because the initiative offers education without representation: the public did not vote on the transformative initiative and has no means to amend these national standards, as they are under copyright.  (Source:   http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use )

There is no means for voters to recall any Common Core test-creating administrators or standards-setting personnel.  No matter how radiant the claims of Common Core proponents sound, the standards are unproven, untested, and unfunded.  Voters deserve to know about, and vote upon, the board’s unauthorized decision that traded state control of quality education for an unvalidated, un-amendable national educational experiment.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/three-exit-strategies-from-the-common-core-for-state-leadership/

 Local decision-making capacity reduced

The following documents show that local decision making has been severely reduced:

  1. Race to the      Top (RTTT) Grant Application – on the definitions page, we learn      that states are restricted from adding to standards for local use. The application hooked Utah to Common Core, even      though we didn’t win the grant. It states:       A State may supplement the common standards with      additional standards, provided that theadditional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total      standards for that content area.” This      speed limit on learning is problematic; one example is the fact that 9th      graders will be repeating most of their 8th grade year (Alg. I moved from      8th to 9th grade for CCSS implementation) and the state will not be able      to add more than 15% to what they would be learning in 9th grade over      again.
  1. Copyright on CCSS National Standards  – Despite the fact that proponents of Common Core claim the initiative was state-led and was written by educators’ input nationwide, the copyright states:  “NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.  http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
  1. ESEA      Flexibility Waiver Request – This document, like the RTTT      grant application, shows that Utah is not      able to delete anything from the national standards and can only add a      maximum of 15% to them.  State      and local school boards do not understand or agree upon how this problem      is to be faced.  While the local      district says it is bound by top-down decision making and must adapt to      Common Core, the state school board says that “local districts and schools are clearly responsible for accommodating      individual students.” A Utah State School Board member confessed      that, seeing this math retardation problem ahead of time, she pulled her      grandchildren out of public school and homeschooled them before Common      Core was imposed on them.   http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/state-and-local-school-board-perceptions-of-common-core-differ-13-2/
  2. Cooperative      Agreement      – The Department of Education’s cooperative agreement with the SBAC      testing consortium, to which Utah is still bound, states that tests must      be synchronized “across consortia,” that status updates and      phone conferences must be made available to the Dept. of Education      regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal      government “on an ongoing basis.”  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

This Department of Education arrangement appears to be flatly illegal.  Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act, the federal government is restricted from supervising education of states:  “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”  http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232a

  1. Letter From      WestEd      -      “In      order for this system to have a real impact within a statethe state will need to adopt the Common Core      State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards).”  This email      response from the SBAC test writers shows that the up-to-15% difference      between Utah Core Standards and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be      a 0% difference as soon as      testing begins in 2014-2015. Nothing but the national standards will be      tested.  (Source:  http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/      ) Also, teacher and principal employment will soon depend upon student      performance on the nationalized tests.       (http://www.nea.org/home/proposed-policy-on-evaluation-and-accountability.html      ) Thus, there will be strong motivation to teach only to the test and skip      unique 15% additions to the local version of the national standards.

Educational quality reduced

The following educational testimonials illustrate that under Common Core, educational quality is reduced:

  1. 6.       The expert opinion of BYU Professor Alan Manning of the Department of Linguistics and English Language:  that Common Core is not a good idea.  “…Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best… An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.” http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/byu-professor-alan-manning-expresses-concerns-about-common-core-slashing-story-writing-and-classic-story-reading/
  1. The expert      opinion of Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core      Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the adequacy of the      English Language Arts standards: “…Despite claims to the contrary,      they are not internationally benchmarked. States adopting Common Core’s      standards will damage the academic integrity of both their post-secondary      institutions and their high schools precisely because Common Core’s      standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum and cannot reduce      the current amount of post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate      way.”      http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/sandra-stotsky-on-the-mediocrity-of-the-common-core-ela-standards/  and         http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf
  2. The expert      opinion of Dr. James Milgram, who served on the Common Core      Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the adequacy of the math      standards:  that Common Core math puts      students about two years behind other countries, rather than creating a      competitive set of standards.       http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf
  3. The expert      opinion of Ze’ev Wurman, who served on the California      Committee to assess the CCSS math standards:  that Common Core deletes or slows      important elements of math education.       http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf
  4. Testimony      of Wasatch School District and Parents – Common Core was      implemented this year in Wasatch County, Utah.   Parents can testify that James Judd,      Wasatch District Administrator, coined the phrase “math bubble”      to refer to the 6th and 9th grade repetition forced by Common Core      implementation, which district administrators and math teachers are trying      to work around.  Students can      testify that in regular common core math classes this year, they repeated      what they’d learned in 8th grade.  Wasatch      County students are among signers of the Utahns Against Common Core      petition. http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/working-around-the-fact-that-common-core-math-dumbs-down-our-kids/   and       http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/

Department of Education FERPA alterations hurt privacy rights while empowering ED data collecting

The following documents and links show that a network of intrastate and interstate data collecting has been created, financially incentivized by the federal government’s ARRA stimulus money, and has been illegally empowered by Dept. of Education FERPA regulatory changes, made without Congressional approval.

This data gathering network meshes student data collection locally and then nationally,  including accessibility to personally identifiable information,  and is on track to be federal perused, as well as being available for non-educational, entrepreneurial, and even “school volunteer” perusal– without parental consent.

  1. ARRA Stiumulus Money bought Utah’s $9.6 million State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS):  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT  to be used for student tracking.
  2. Press Release Shows Utah is P-20 Tracking with UEN/Utah Data Alliance –  “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
  3. 2012 Statement by  J. Weiss, U.S. Education Department’s Chief of Staff: information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB )
  4. Schools/states being asked by NCES –federal government– to collect personal information along with academic information, including unique identifiers including names, nicknames, residences, immunization history, family income, extracurricular programs, city of birth, email address, bus stop times, parental marital status and parental educational levels, to name a few. View the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
  5. EPIC lawsuit against Dept. of Education – A lawyer at E.P.I.C., Khalia Barnes, stated that FERPA regulatory loosening will affect anyone who ever attended a university (if that university archives records and received federal scholarships).  Not just children will have their data perused without parental consent– nobody will be asked for consent to be tracked and studied.  The lawsuit is ongoing from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Department of Education. It suit is filed under the  under the Administrative Procedure Act against the Department of Education.  EPIC’s lawsuit argues that the agency’s December 2011 regulations amending the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act exceed the agency’s statutory authority, and are contrary to law., including: a)  reducing parental consent requirements over student data to optional, a “best practice,” rather than a mandate and b) manipulating privacy laws by redefining terms and stretching the concepts of “authorized representative” and “educational program” past the breaking point so that even a school volunteer could access personally identifiable information.    http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
  6. BYU Professor David Wiley partnered financially with USOE in NCLB Waiver Request -  Professor Wiley is financially partnered with USOE and Common Core implementation.  Is he getting rich?  No clue.  But he has been so outspoken in defending the USOE’s adoption of Common Core as well as defending the Department of Education’s FERPA alterations that exclude parents being consented before student data is used for educational research.  (Source for partnership evidence:  Page 25 at:   http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Accountability-School-Performance/Utah-ESEA-Flexibility-Request.aspx  )  Source for Wiley pro-Common Core and anti-parental consent debate:

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/#comment-1456

  1. Powerpoint by John Brandt, USOE Technology Director, showing federal access to Utah student transcripts and other data;  Brandt is a federal NCES member and a CCSSO (Common Core creator) member.  His online powerpoint states:

Where student records and eTranscripts can be used:

  • LEA   <—->  LEA (local education agency)
  • LEA   <—->  USOE (Utah State Office of Education)
  • LEA     —->  USHE (Utah System of Higher Education, and beyond)
  • USOE  —->  USED (US Department of Education

 

So, What should Utah do?

Rather than choosing the option of using national, common standards, Utah leaders can create Utah’s own standards, using local universities’ expertise.

On page 8 of the ESEA Flexibility document (updated June 7, 2012) found at http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility,  it is stated: “A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”.  This option 2 was recently chosen by Virginia, a state that also wisely rejected Common Core national standards in the first place.

Case Study of Virginia:

Virginia rejected Common Core.  Common Core would be an unwise financial investment, the state said, and the standards would have left teachers stripped of the curricular SOL frameworks Virginia valued.

The Virginia Board of Education said “Virginia’s accountability program is built on a validated assessment system aligned with the Standards of Learning (SOL); validated assessments aligned with the Common Core do not exist.”  The Board also said, “Virginia’s investment in the Standards of Learning since 1995 far exceeds the $250 million Virginia potentially could have received by abandoning the SOL and competing in phase two of Race to the Top,” and the Board “opposes the use of federal rulemaking and the peer review process as leverage to compel word-for-word adoption of the Common Core State Standards.” http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2010/jun24.shtml

Option 2, using “standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”was chosen by Virginia, and that state did receive its NCLB waiver this year.  Utah can do the same. http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2012/jun29.shtml

Case Study of Texas:

Texas rejected Common Core based on an estimated $3 billion implementation cost and the fact that Texas’ educational standards were already better than Common Core.  “I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests,” Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a January 13 letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-DuncanArne201001130344.pdf

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott explained: The standards were “originally sold to states as voluntary, [but] states have now been told that participating in national standards and national testing would be required as a condition of receiving federal discretionary grant funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),” Scott wrote. “Texas has chosen to preserve its sovereign authority to determine what is appropriate for Texas children to learn in its public schools…”   http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120208_RoadNationalCurriculum.pdf

Texas, along with 11 other states, has not made a NCLB waiver request. The Texas Education Agency explained that it was concerned the federal government might impose a national curriculum and a national system to test students’ abilities and evaluate teacher performance, and prefers state control.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/some-states-stay-with-edu_0_n_1267859.html

Case Study of South Carolina

Utah has much in common with South Carolina.  Unlike Virginia and Texas, both Utah and South Carolina did adopt the Common Core standards and both joined testing consortia.  South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Michael Fair are now working to withdraw the state from the national standards and assessments, against great political pressure to remain bound.

AccountabilityWorks  estimated the costs for South Carolina over the next seven years to be over $75 million for professional development, $42 million for textbooks and 115 million for technology.  To do adequate assessments, South Carolina would need a 4 to 1 ratio of students to computers, totaling 162,500 computers. 62,128 computers were still needed. South Carolina faced an estimated price tag of at least $232 million, over seven years, not including assessments, but just to implement the common core.  The number didn’t include the operational costs the state already paid for.

South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley explained in a public letter:

South Carolina’s educational system has at times faced challenges of equity, quality and leadership – challenges that cannot be solved by increasing our dependence on federal dollars and the mandates that come with them. Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states. Confirming my commitment to finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges, I am pleased to support [Senator Fair's] efforts to reverse the 2010 decision to adopt common core standards…

South Carolina Senator Mike Fair ‘s bill (S.604) simply stated:

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.

Senator Fair explained in the Greenville News: 

“…If the federal government didn’t create Common Core, how is this a federal takeover?  Simple– the Department of Education is funding the development of the national tests aligned with Common Core.  Even Common Core proponents admit that whoever controls the test will, for all practical purposes, control what must be taught in the classroom.  And once Common Core is implemented, no one in this state will have the power to change any standard…  The Legislature never had a chance to review Common Core because the feds timed their deadlines for adopting them to fall when the Legislature wasn’t in session. So, to qualify for a shot at Race to the Top money in 2010, the (previous) state superintendent and the (previous) governor had to agree to adopt Common Core– standards that had not even been published yet… By the way, South Carolina wasn’t awarded Race to the Top money, so we sold our education birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”

Conclusion

The Constitution is still the supreme law of the land.  Education reforms, including Common Core, go completely in the opposite direction of the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

Federal agencies and state consortia are not stakeholders in Utah.  They should not determine our choices.  Truly, the Utah School Board was never authorized to give away authority over local decision making and the state should reverse their decision immediately.

It appears that the way reclaim Utah’s educational freedom and educational quality is to: 1) withdraw from the SBAC testing consortium, 2) withdraw from Common Core national standards,  and 3) resubmit Utah’s ESEA Flexibility waiver request to choose state-unique standards, option 2, “standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education,” and 4) write our own standards and tests to be controlled by Utahns and set privacy policies that abide by protective state, rather than un-protective federal  FERPA policy.

Having reclaimed our freedom, we can then look to legitimate good examples to create new standards for Utah. For example, we can look to (pre-Common Core) Massachusetts.  The state tested as an independent country and was still among the highest ranking educational systems worldwide, up until Common Core. Because Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation before they discarded their standards and adopted Common Core, we could use those standards as a template for our own.

Utah can regain local control over the quality and type of education, can reclaim Utah’s local ability to vote educational leaders in or out of office, can reclaim Utah’s ability to add to her own standards without restraint; and can take a strong stand against the federal push that aims to expose students and families to unprecedented privacy intrusions.

Let’s do it.

USOE: The Answer is No. (–Can a Student Attend Public School Without Being P-20/SLDS Tracked?)   24 comments

Dear Utah School Board,

Last week, I asked a simple yes or no question.  I received one response, and that board member did not say yes or not, but said he’d forward my question to Judy Park’s secretary.  I still have no answer.

The question is simple:  Is it possible for a student in Utah to attend public school and not be tracked by the P-20 and SLDS tracking systems?

Thanks.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

——————————-

On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM, Austin, Lorraine <Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov> wrote:

Christel,

I have consulted with the Associate Superintendent in the office over data collection, and have received the following answer to your question:

All students who attend public schools have their data submitted to USOE for multiple purposes including accountability and monitoring aggregate student progress.  USOE does not release student level data.  Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.  Current state and federal accountability requires that a minimum of 95% of students participate in all assessment programs.

Lorraine Austin, Secretary to the Board

Utah State Board of Education

PO Box 144200

Salt Lake City, UT  84114-4200

(801) 538-7517

——————————-

Dear Lorraine,

Thank you!  I appreciate you going to the effort to find the answer to my question. I have a follow-up question.

The Associate Superintendent over data collection said that USOE does not release student level data; could you tell me how long that policy will remain in place and where I can find it in written form?  Thank you.

I am concerned with this question because Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Education Department’s chief of staff, said that information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB  )

Another source confirms this trend:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm

It says, “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner.

Added to these facts is the fact that recent changes were made by the Department of Education to FERPA (privacy laws/regulations) that remove the necessity for researchers to gather parental or student consent prior to accessing personally identifiable information (PII).

So the only thing standing between our students’ PII and interstate, intrastate and federal persual (including entrepreneurs and both governmental and nongovernmental researchers) is local policy.

That is why I’d like to see what that policy is, and when it’s due to expire.

Thank you very much.  I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

Control Over Education: More of the Debate Between Professor Wiley and Me   Leave a comment

David Wiley says:

Christel,

Let me start by saying thanks to you as well. I think this conversation has been extra-ordinarily civil, despite our obvious differences of opinion. In today’s political realm, I can think of nothing more important than civility in discourse. So much of what could be productive dialog is reduced to worse than time-wasting shouting. I am genuinely grateful for your obvious passionate – yet polite – engagement around this topic.

I would disagree that my argument has been that ‘because research is supremely helpful in making improvements to education, anything that stands in the way of gathering research is reduced to optional/unimportant.’ I have argued for the importance of research in improving education, and I have argued for the importance of the exceptions to FERPA – which are clearly limited.

The study exemption FERPA governs schools initiating research and evaluation of their own programs – in other words, a school or district that wants to study itself. If a school district doesn’t have sophisticated research expertise in-house (and given today’s budgets – how could they afford to?), under the study exemption they are permitted to engage outside expertise in the process of conducting that research. Those outside experts may be contractors, consultants, or volunteers. And they can conduct this research without having to ask parents’ permission first. That seems wholly appropriate to me.

You suggest that “researchers should shoulder the inconvenience of getting parental/individual consent” before any research can be done. If the researcher has come to the school and proposed the work, this is exactly what would have to happen. And the research rarely occurs because too few parents engage in meaningful tasks like helping their child with homework, let alone signing a research consent form. And if these researchers can’t persuade enough parents to consent the research won’t happen, which is perhaps as it should be.

But when a school asks, “We want to understand how we can serve our students better – Ms. Research Expert, will you please help us?” Then under the exception a strict written contract is executed governing what data Ms. R. E. can and cannot see and what she can and cannot do with that data. Now that she is under contract, she is treated like other employees because she is subject to similar contractual obligations. And those obligations are what make “employees” in the first place.

I agree that must act ethically. And I ask, which is more ethical – prohibiting students from achieving more of their potential by prohibiting research that would facilitate that fulfillment? Or providing all individuals who are appropriately and contractually obligated to protect PII with access to PII for the reasons specified in their contracts?

The USOE has been holding public meetings about Common Core literally for years now, asking for community feedback and listening carefully to all opinions expressed. Some of that feedback has been critical, some of it has been supportive. Regardless of which path they choose to follow, they were certain to disappoint a large portion of their constituency. I’m genuinely sorry that you feel they have made the wrong choice. If they had rejected the Common Core, I’m sure I would have felt the same overwhelming sense of frustration and disappointment that I expect you feel because of their adoption of it.

While I can’t speak on behalf of the USOE, I would guess that if they seem unexcited by the idea of holding yet another hearing on these issues, it is because they have already held so many of them and have heard the arguments for and against repeated so many times in these meetings and other settings (op-eds, blog posts, Facebook comments, etc.) that they can recite – and explain – each of the pro and con arguments from memory. This does not mean that they are anti-transparency or anti-public input. But once you’ve heard all the arguments a dozen or more times, there is simply no “gaining the public’s input” function served by convening yet another meeting. The USOE has a clear obligation to obtain and consider public input, but that obligation does not mean that meetings must continue to be held quarterly as long as a portion of the constituency disagrees with their decision.

I believe the record of open public meetings (which was reviewed at length in the most recent public meeting on Common Core) provided ample opportunity for these decisions to be made with meaningful public vetting from 100% of schoolchildrens’ parents. The fact is that – even when you and I run around the state talking to everyone we can get our hands on – people don’t engage. I agree with you, that most parents in Utah still don’t even know what Common Core is nor what FERPA is about. But it is only partly up to people like me (and you!) to right this wrong. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. You and I can cry from the rooftops about how important this issue is, but parents have the agency to choose to ignore us. And they have largely exercised that agency to choose apathy. If, as you say 99% of them won’t engage over something this important, what prayer do we have of them ever signing a research consent form? =)

Finally, please do mistakenly believe that my views represent those of the David O. McKay School of Education or BYU. I am not a spokesman for either, and there are people in both the MSE and broader BYU communities who agree with your point of view (perhaps more than would agree with me). I am simply a person who supports the Common Core, and finds great pleasure in constructive dialog with people with other opinions.

  • Professor Wiley,

    It is simply not true that the state has “provided ample opportunity” for meaningful public vetting.  There has never been a single hearing on Common Core.  There has never been a public vote. The one forum held by USOE at Granite School District last spring was dominated by the pro-Common Core side with a forty-five minute intro, after which some individuals from both sides, pro and con, were given time to say a few sentences each.

    A pitiful minority of teachers and parents even know what the term fully means.  Even teachers do not know that we aren’t free to change these standards; we have given up our authority over educational standards decision making and testing as we’ve agreed to nationalize our local system.

    This was not fair public vetting.  Common Core’s implementation and purpose is education without representation– both in the disregard you and other Common Core advocates show for parental involvement and consent, and also in the fact that Common Core standards are copyrighted and can therefore never be challenged by parents or by anyone at all.  We can’t even remove the personnel and administrators of Common Core by a vote. How un-American is that?!

    A recent poll done by Achieve, Inc. (ironically) showed that overwhelmingly, a majority of Americans have no idea what Common Core means.  I didn’t know what the term meant until this April.  The USOE has not been transparent, open, or had meaningful public forums to expose and discuss all the relevant points –on control of local education, on research, on Constitutional legality, on taxpayer cost, nor on the standards’ content.

    You are openly advocating for the removal of consent. No amount of eduspeak makes up for that.

    Christel Swasey

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

David Wiley and the Utah State Office of Education Partnership   1 comment

A friend just sent me this link.  It’s sad. 

http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Accountability-School-Performance/Utah-ESEA-Flexibility-Request.aspx

    But it explains a lot.  It explains why Professor David Wiley is so passionately pro-common core, so defensive of the USOE and of the Dept. of Education’s terrible FERPA alterations that empowered the Common Core Initiative, and why he does not want to read past the first link on my rebuttal to the USOE’s statement written last week by Brenda Hales.

So, on page 25 of Utah’s ESEA Flexibility Request (the No Child Left Behind waiver) it talks about Professor D. Wiley.  It says:

“Utah is a leader in developing and utilizing digital resources. For example, the USOE has entered into a partnership with Dr. David Wiley, an associate professor at Brigham Young University and a Senior Fellow for Open Education with Digital Promise, to research, develop and implement technologies that transform reaching and learning. The USOE staff, LEA and Higher Ed experts, and Dr. Wiley are working to develop online digital e-books that will be based on open-source materials. They will be available in a hybrid format for all Utah students. Teachers can use the digital or inexpensive print format (five dollars per book or less) to deliver instructional material to learners. Dr. Wiley is leading a successful pilot of open-sources science textbooks in Utah classrooms. By next fall, e-books based on Utah Core Standards [Common Core National Standards] will be available for secondary language arts and mathematics. The mathematics e-books will facilitate our transition to an integrated high school math model while the language arts e-books will contain heavier emphasis on content literacy and oral argumentative writing. [Notice, no classic literature or narrative writing because it's slashed under Common Core rules.] Digital resources are a key to designing and using highly relevant and responsive curriculum to Utah’s students. We also have a working relationship with Apple, use ITunes U and work with the Utah Education Network to provide resources aligned with the Standards. All of this can be found on the various content websites and linked to our CCSS website http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/. “

…I still do not think badly of Professor Wiley.

Nor of Brenda Hales.  Nor of my own local school board.  Why?

I don’t think they get it.  I do not believe they are deliberately, knowingly selling out our kids and our privacy rights.  They lack motivation to study it out and think about all the possible repercussions because their jobs and their egos hinge on their work for Common Core implementation in Utah.

Also, I am pretty sure these people don’t know what the Constitution’s about.  They take for granted that it will be there to protect us, even while they act against its principles, by each step they take for Utah/America, toward more and more socialist/communist styled programs. 

In case you forgot:  The Constitution says that the people are the sovereign; not a consortium, and not a federal Department of anything.  It says that separation of powers, that checks & balances idea, is the safeguard of rights; allowing the feds so much power over us is abusing the Constitution. It says the powers granted to the 3 branches are LIMITED, on purpose to never concentrate or centralize power but to keep it spread out in each locality; it outlines the principle of representation, which Common Core laughs at. There is no representation where there is no amendability of standards or of tests.)

And because these people, our Utah education system leaders, have not been valiant in detecting the problems brought by Common Core, such as detecting the subtle, powerful seeping away of control over education, and parental consent, and lost privacy rights; because they have not recognized it, and therefore have not stood up to it, the encroachments of Arne Duncan and his gang at the Department of Education increase. 

Yes, we are in a terrible place, teetering on the verge of not being able to get out.  We have lost many and are losing more and more liberties and rights of education and of privacy.

And David Wiley and the Utah State Office of Education are fine with it.

BYU Professor David Wiley Defends USOE’s Common Core/FERPA Statement   10 comments

  Rod Arquette hosts national education experts: James Gass of Pioneer Institute, Emmett McGroarty of American Principals Project, Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford, and Kent Talbert, D.C. lawyer and former counsel to Department of Education. Photo taken the day before the public forum in Salt Lake City.

On July 10th, 2012, a public forum was held where  Jamie Gass, Bill Evers, Kent Talbert and Emmett McGroarty, four national education experts, taught evidenced facts to the public concering Common Core.  A press release about the forum upset Brenda Hales, a USOE administrator, who then posted a statement on the Utah Public Education website giving the official line of the USOE on Common Core.

  Brenda Hales, Utah State Office of Education

I  decided to provide a referenced rebuttal to challenge her statement.  You can read at http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/ .   (You can read Brenda’s post as well so you can see what’s being said by the USOE.)  The Utahns Against Common Core website posted both the USOE’s statement and my rebuttal.

  Dr. David Wiley, pro-Common Core professor

Next, comments were sent in on one aspect of the Common Core debate, privacy issues, by BYU Professor David Wiley.  The purpose of this blog post is to record his comments and my responses to his responses so readers may determine for themselves what they feel is right.

  • David Wiley says:

    The analysis in point 1, regarding personally-identifiable data, wanders back and forth between data that would allow a person to be identified, and “student-level” data. Student-level data can use randomized, nonsense identifiers like 12s47s8fd9231 instead of personally-identifiable information like a person’s name or social security number. In other words, student level data can be – and typically is – deidentified.

    The above analysis rails against the potential dangers of sharing personally-identifiable data, and then slides smoothly into a discussion of SBAC, saying that ‘states are obligated to share data with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”‘ – leaving the reader to understand that states are obligated to share personally-identifiable data.

    But what does the document you link to actually say? That the grant recipient will “make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.”

    Wow! So the recipient is obliged to share student-level data only, not personally-identifiable data, and the data sharing is only for the purpose of research studies, and the data sharing is subject to applicable privacy laws. This is not quite the “sky-is–falling-we’re-required-to share-personally-identifiable-data” problem it was so smoothly made out to be.

    I stopped reading after I noticed this slight-of-hand trick in the analysis. I was frankly disappointed after all the chatter at the top of the document about facts and being able to “verify what is claimed.” This was literally the first link I followed, and you’ve completely mischaracterized what it says. Too bad.

    David Wiley
    •     Christel Swasey says:

      Dear Professor Wiley,

      I appreciate your response and would like to continue an open, respectful conversation on this important topic. I am trying to expose those who really are misrepresenting facts so it is important to me that I come across very clearly and I apologize if I did not do so.

      I may have wandered in my style of writing, but the federal government has not wandered from its goal to take parental rights and to permit –not require, but permit– schools to widely share students’ personally identifiable information (PII).

      I do understand the difference between aggregated and personally identifiable data. BOTH forms of student info are now permitted to be shared without parental consent or knowledge, under the federal regulation changes, made without Congressional approval by the Dept. of Education this year. This fact is huge.

      Did you read the quote above, from the Federal Register on page 51, that it is no longer a necessity for a school to get student’s or parent’s consent before sharing PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION? That direct quote did not even mention aggregated, student-level information; it mentioned personally identifiable information.

      While former FERPA rules did require schools to notify parents –except for in emergency situations– anytime they shared personally identifiable information with anyone, now, the notifying of parents has been reduced to an optional “best practice.” So the fact is that while some agencies will honorably, due to state or local FERPA policy that is stronger than the federal policy, only share aggregated data, others will certainly be sharing personally identifiable data and pointing to their federal permission to do so!

      No school or agency is restrained by federal regulation from sharing student PII, by anything stronger than a “best practice” suggestion. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      You are quite correct in quoting the Cooperative Agreement with SBAC as saying the sharing of data is “subject to applicable privacy law.” Now, ask what the applicable privacy laws actually are.

      Federal FERPA privacy regulations have been radically altered. New FERPA regulations have been loosened in favor of easy access by the feds and other groups, but out of reach of parental consent –conveniently altered by the very same Department of Ed that wrote the Cooperative Agreement with the SBAC. So Secretary Duncan might more transparently have written, “subject to applicable privacy law –which I happen to be changing right now so this requirement for ‘ongoing sharing of data with the Department’ won’t actually be subject to anything at all.”

      It is interesting to study the reasons for the current Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) lawsuit against the Dept. of Education (a suit filed for the Department of Education’s having exceeded statutory authority in making regulatory alterations to FERPA). The lead lawyer is Khalia Barnes. She said that the loosening of federal FERPA is an intrusion that applies not only to children’s data, but to anyone of ANY AGE whose college records are archived in any university or school that ever accepted federal funds or scholarships. So it’s not just kids or college students who will be tracked, federally.

      Barnes also said that the FERPA changes have redefined terms, stretching to the breaking point terms such as “authorized representative” and “educational program” to mean even non-governmental groups, such as medical programs and corporate, educational or governmental agencies; in effect, then, there is virtually no federal privacy regulation governing who can access school-acquired citizen data anymore (from the federal level; there could be protective state or local laws and policies.)

      Also, F.Y.I., the types of information that the Department is permitting (not requiring) schools to share, includes so much more than academic information: it includes biometric information (DNA, fingerprints, iris patterns) parental income, nicknames, medical information, etc. The federal government’s own websites make this clear. Please read the official NCES data collection model’s attributes to be collected: http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

      The obligatory language of the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and the SBAC may not alarm you. And there is a possibility Utah will opt out of SBAC membership soon. However, I still urge you to carefully read that document as it reveals Arne Duncan’s test data collecting scheme in a pretty straightforward way. It triangulates the two consortia and requires them to synchronize tests across consortia, to give status updates to the feds, and it places and puts the federal government in the middle of the data collecting program of the two consortia and their data. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agree ment.pdf

      I don’t know any other way to interpret the evidence, and since Brenda Hales and the USOE are in the habit of never referencing anything, I urge you to go back and read the rest of the links in my rebuttal to Hales’ claims.

      Christel Swasey

  • David Wiley says:

    Christel,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I’d like to continue a respectful dialog on this topic as well.

    You state: The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that it is not a necessity for a school to get student or parental consent any longer before sharing personally identifiable information; that has been reduced to the level of optional. “It is a best practice to keep the public informed when you disclose personally identifiable information from education records.”http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf

    This quote is on the 51st page of the PDF document, page 75653 of the FR for those following along.

    FERPA dictates that PII (personally identifying information) from education records cannot be disclosed without consent of the family. The section of the document the above quote is taken from details two important exceptions to the consent requirement: the “studies” exception (when a school wants another entity to conduct some research on its behalf) and the “audit or evaluation” exception, when a state or federal program is being audited or evaluated. In both of these cases, when PII is disclosed without consent, the disclosure MUST be governed by a written agreement between the discloser and disclosee. The requirements and mandatory elements of these written agreements are on the 44th and 45th pages of the PDF, pages 75646-7 as paginated by the FR.

    For example, a school district and a local university might exchange PII without consent in order to do research on whether or not the district is preparing students for success at the local U. This exchange must be governed by a written agreement insuring protections on the privacy of the data as described beginning on 75646. These restrictions and requirements are compulsory. However, it is only a “best practice” – and not a requirement – for the schools to inform the public that they’re performing the research.

    I have absolutely no problem with this whatsoever. If the world worked the other way, and each and every family had to consent for their data to be included in the study, the costs and other logistics involved in carrying out this kind of research would become prohibitive, and we could never understand in any detail how the local schools need to improve to better prepare students for college. So the exception is appropriate and works for the public benefit. I believe this is the primary reason for the recent changes ad clarifications in FERPA. FERPA as spelled out in the FR document you link to provides significant and sufficient privacy protections for individuals and families, while finally making possible the kind of research necessary to move our students’ academic performance forward.

    As for notification, I would think that the local district would want to brag up the fact that they were engaged in research to make their programs better. But I don’t see any reason to require them to do so – I think encouraging it as a best practice is fine.

    The one quote you cite, taken out of context, sounds quite alarming. However, when understood in its proper context the quote is quite reasonable. Without the PII disclosure exceptions FERPA would literally eliminate the possibility of large scale research educational studies, due to both (1) the logistical and coordination costs of acquiring the consent of 100s of 1000s of people, and (2) the possibility that a significant portion of the individuals you did manage to contact would opt out. And without this level of research – the scale of research we’re able to conduct in every other field of human endeavor – educators, school boards, parents, and legislators are literally left in the dark, each with their own “hunch” about what works and no rigorous empirical data to demonstrate their their hunch is anything more than indigestion. This is the current state of dialog about “what works” in public schools – everyone has their pet theory which they believe to be “best” because “it worked for my child” or because it somehow harmonizes with their religious beliefs. Any educational approach which is truly effective can be shown to be effective through rigorous research, and policy decisions should be made on this basis. “In God we trust; all others bring data.”

    The balance of the exceptions to the consent requirement, the mandatory contract language whenever PII is disclosed without consent that protects privacy, and the best practices which are recommended but not required seems appropriate to me.

           –David Wiley
  • Dear Professor Wiley,

    When a school district and a local university exchange information in order to do research on whether or not the district is preparing students for success, why would that information need to be personally identifiable rather than aggregate?

    Your defense of parentally unauthorized collection of personally identifiable information excuses the Department of Education’s misdeed of bypassing Congress and sounds as if you feel groups who use the “authorized” and “educational” language really should get access to citizens’ information without their consent because it’s more convenient for researchers. I disagree.

    Ezra Taft Benson said that one way to judge the goodness of any governmental action is to bring it down to the individual level. “An important test I use in passing judgment upon an act of government is this: If it were up to me as an individual… would it offend my conscience?”

    Using his reasoning, picture this: if I had access via teaching or some other way, to your child, would I give away his/her personal information to my neighbor without your knowledge or consent –including report card, medical and psychological information, address, parental income, mother’s maiden name, child’s fingerprints, etc., if that neighbor smartly persuaded me it didn’t matter if I told you about it?

    Have you ever wondered how communist systems today precisely control their people? It’s via information. The government somehow keeps track of how many babies a woman has, to control population by mandated abortion. And young children, such as gymnasts barely past toddlerhood, are taken away from parents by those governments for those governments’ purposes. The list of abuses made possible easily by privacy rights loss, is endless.

    Would that never happen in America? Is human nature so much nobler here?

    Remember history. Remember the lessons of Orwell’s “1984,” Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” or Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451″. –When governments can “legally” wrangle personally identifiable information, these scenarios can and do become real.

    There is more than plenty in the FERPA document that is protective and that doesn’t need to be changed back to how it was. You have quoted those good portions at length.

    –But then, there are all those exceptions and the re-interpreted definitions of terms! These, like small cockroaches swimming in a large sweet sundae, are the details that ruin a good thing. The exceptions and re-definitions are what I’m focusing on. These are where the feds get a toe in the door of privacy and win in their plan to take power with impunity.

    This is what our founding fathers warned us not to let happen when they set up our Constitution and our system of checks and balances. This is where we must fight for our rights –and not defend those who are aiming to take them away from us.

    Public schools sit as a golden grape of opportunity for the data-hungry feds to pluck –mountains of information from a truly captive audience. In the 2009 stimulus bill we find the feds encouraging states to develop data systems. Utah got a nearly $10 million chunk of that ARRA money and built, as directed, a State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) designed to collect academic and nonacademic information about citizens. This was incentivized financially and by the feds’ clever use of the sheep’s clothing of student testing and data-driven educational decision making.

    But why would the NCES’ National Data Collection Model ask states to collect voting status of parents, health care history, parent maiden names, nicknames, income? If this were purely motivated by children’s own educational needs, why the information on parents? All 50 states now have this system. And an increasing number of states have P-20 councils to make them seamless as they interact with inter-state and intra-state agencies, and yes, with the feds themselves. (See John Brandt’s powerpoint online. He’s the USOE Technology Director as well as a CCSSO chair member –and a NCES fed.)

    The Department of Education felt it could overcome legal obstacles to get this data by simply bypassing Congress, which it did. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) which sued the Dept. of Education –over what you and the Department are calling “appropriate” actions– say that the Department’s final regulations concerning FERPA “exceed the agency’s legal authority” and “expose students to new privacy risks.” They say that changes permit educational institutions to release student records to non-governmental agencies without first obtaining parents’ written consent and that they “broaden the permissible purposes for which third parties can access students records without first notifying parents.” These acts were illegal Constitutionally due to separation of powers. The Department’s FERPA changes, EPIC says, “fail to appropriately safeguard students from the risk of re-identification.”

    I am flabbergasted that this “seems appropriate” to anyone, much less someone with your credentials.

    Still, thank you for taking the time to respond. It is one of the blessings of America that we have freedom of speech and thoughts, and I’m grateful for the privilege to amiably disagree.

    Christel Swasey

Alisa Ellis: To Wasatch School Board July 2012   Leave a comment

Mr. Judd,

Thank you for taking the time last month to sit down with us as concerned citizens and listen to our concerns.  As I told you last month I would not be expending a lot of energy pushing for public comment about this policy. It’s unfortunate that the board decided to write a “non-policy” when confronted with voices from their constituents.  We are not misinformed nor ignorant.  Many of the parents questioning these decisions are parents of some of your highest performing students.  We value education, we value teachers, we value children, and we value freedom.

It is for these  reasons that we are making your life and the board’s life a little more difficult.  Being challenged is good because it causes one to think.  Is there any merit to what we are saying?  You and the board may not think so but there are voices all over the Country that share my concerns and no they are not all of the same political spectrum.  This comment made me think: (from a Facebook discussion)

 ‎Alisa Olsen Ellis, what I find interesting and at the crux of your question is that right wing conservatives think socialism is behind CCSS, and left wing liberals think fascism (corporatism) is behind Ed Reform.

Is it a socialist movement? Is it “Common Core” as in “Communism”…which is extreme socialism? Is this part of Obama’s great socialist plan for the US: Obamacare and Obamacore? Will Common Core stifle innovation and the drive to succeed?

Or is this a Fascist movement? Is dismantling teacher unions and eliminating seniority the means to allow a nationalistic, authoritarian government? Is CCSS and the illusion of choice and vouchers an outward sign of intolerance. Do we keep hearing about rigor and skills as part of the need to discipline our nation’s children?

Which leads to me wonder, does it matter? The end result of either is slavery to an undemocratic system.

 

Please take the time to listen to concerned parents.  We aren’t asking for much, really.  Everyone from the district keeps telling us that they “would NEVER give out our children’s personally identifiable information”.  All we’re asking is that Wasatch School District has a policy in place that reflects the above sentiments.

Wasatch School District will never give out personally identifiable information without the prior consent of the parents.

This pretty much covers everything.  The medical form can have a check box on it where the parent gives permission for that information to be released in cases of emergency.  Maybe this is too simplistic but you guys tried it so I thought why not, I should too.

Please take the time to read my comments from last month — they still apply and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

P.S. Parents keep telling me that they are being told that if they don’t like this or that they can always pull their kids out of school and homeschool or put them in a private school, etc.  Is this really how we’re going to treat parents who have questions?  Tell them to go away — regardless of where our children go to school, we are still tax paying citizens who have a voice in what happens in the public school system.

Previous 30-day comment period’s letter to the Wasatch School Board from Alisa:

From: Alisa Ellis <alisa.ellis@gmail.com> Date: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM Subject: FERPA comment To: vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu

To Whom It May Concern –

I want to first thank you for answering our request to put the FERPA policy revisions up for a thirty-day review.  I want to make it clear that the intentions of my heart are far from contentious.  I understand that you may not see it that way.  I’ve avoided e-mail conversations because it is very hard to interpret tone and meaning through an email message.  I would much prefer an open dialect.  In this case that is not possible so I will do my best to put my thoughts down on paper.

A citizen asked me what I’m afraid of.  Do I think a black car will start following my kids?  This was tongue in cheek but an appropriate question.  The answer is NO.  I also believe the local administrators and board have the best of intentions and truly want to protect our children.  What I ask of you today is to make sure that the policies that our district votes to adopt truly reflect the intent of your hearts.

It has been said that the FERPA revision was to protect our children.  I recognize that as a citizen I cannot see the full scope of what was behind these changes but I can read the changes themselves.  (Wasatch FERPA old & new)

The changes put into place in our local policy give more exceptions to the rule.  In 9.2 it gives permission for “organizations conducting studies for specific purposes on behalf of schools.”  I am not opposed to all studies but my children are not guinea pigs.  Why on earth do organizations need my children’s personally identifiable information without my parental consent?  It is my right as a parent to decide what studies I’d like my children to be a part of.

Further at the April 19th meeting the changes to number 3 were not mentioned.  If I may make a suggestion I’d like to suggest that we as a district be more specific in our policy.

Who is an authorized representative?  As defined in the Federal Register the term is somewhat vague.  They state that they are doing this to streamline and protect children’s data but at the same time they are opening up our children’s personally identifiable data to just about anyone, as I see it.  Please clearly define this term.

I spoke with Carol Lear who is the in-house attorney at the State Office of Education.  She told me to just put a note in each of my children’s files stating that I do not allow Personally Identifiable Information to be released.  That is not good enough for many reasons one of which is that in Appendix B of the Federal Register it lays out “certain rights” as a parent “with respect to the student’s education records.”  In number 3 it then says “The right to provide written consent before the school discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent”.  As you can see I have no power as a parent.  The policy overrides that authority.

You may be thinking that we won’t let anything happen that is not in the best interest of our children here in Wasatch County.  What I’m saying is that if the policy doesn’t clearly state your intentions you too may have no power just as my parental authority has been stripped.  We need to stand together to protect our children as parents, citizens, and educational representatives.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

Heber City Resident

Further items to Consider:

Race to the Top for the District

This was just announced in May and the Executive Summary is out for review.

Page 13

Program Requirements

5.  Work with the Department to develop a FERPA-compliant strategy to make all

implementation and student-level data (FERPA compliant) available to the Department or

its designated monitors, technical assistance providers, or research partners.

As I see this it is now circumventing the State office of Education and our district, if we apply, would be beholden to the Federal Department of Education be required to send them whatever information they ask for.

Recovery Plans from 2010 – i.e. Stimulus Bill

STATEWIDE DATA SYSTEMS RECOVERY PLAN

1. Program Purpose:

The purpose of assistance under this program is to enable State educational agencies to design, develop, and implement

statewide, longitudinal data systems to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student

data. In addition, the program may support awards to organizations to improve data coordination.

Drumroll, please… Thursday night the Wasatch School Board will unveil yet another FERPA policy   Leave a comment

Dear Wasatch School Board,

I may pull out my hair and run screaming from the room if it is apparent in this Thursday’s school board meeting –as it was at the last meeting– that the board has not done any meaningful research on the facts concerning federal FERPA, and that the board remains Constitutionally ignorant, believing that the federal government has more authority than the state and local government and local district/parents have, over our own children and our children’s private data.

To be very, very clear:  The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that new federal FERPA altered regulations make it no longer a necessity for a school to get student’s or parent’s consent before sharing personally identifiable information; that action has been reduced to OPTIONAL by the Dept. of Education. There is no parental consent requirement nor any meaningful privacy regulation governing schools anymore, from the federal level.

Wasatch School District has a moral obligation to do better than the federal law is doing.

Even the USOE’s Brenda Hales gave out a paper on FERPA  that shows (page 3) that the federal FERPA uses “permissive” language.  This means we need to fortify our local privacy policy because the federal FERPA would permit almost anyone access to students’ private, identifiable information.

I highly recommend that the new district policy should state that parents will always be asked before the district shares any personally identifiable information with anyone outside the district.

Christel Swasey

——————————————————————————————-

By the way, blog readers:  if you live in the Heber Valley and have not yet written an email to the board for this 30-day public comment period, please do.  Yes, I know they ignored us the last time, but Vicci Gappmayer retired last month and James Judd, her replacement, is much more reasonable and open to public input.  Email him at james.judd@wasatch.edu .

Heber PTA President Janette Hall’s Letter to Utah State School Board   3 comments

July 15, 2012

Utah State School Board Members,

My name is Janette Hall and I have five children enrolled in the public school system in Utah. I am also the PTA president of Timpanogos Intermediate School. I have spent many years volunteering in schools and working closely with teachers and administrators. I appreciate the work that is conducted by the USOE for my children and their education, but I feel compelled to write this letter after reading a recent posting on your official blog by Brenda Hales regarding Utah’s Core Standards, Assessments and Privacy Regulations on July 10th, 2012.

It seems that the intent of the statement was to assuage the public instead of seeking to be factual. I was surprised at the definitive tone of Brenda Hale’s statement, when a study of the legal documents would lead one to the opposite conclusion.

As the public becomes more educated, our ability to see through statements like these increases at the cost of your board’s credibility. An organization that can admit that other points of view have credence is to be admired, not looked down upon. We are treading into uncharted territory and no one knows the exact outcome of the board’s actions to adopt the Common Core standards and join the SBAC, not even the USOE.

After reading her official blog I was shocked at the many misleading, and in my opinion, incorrect statements, such as the following:

2. The State Board of Education has control over the standards and assessments for Utah.

3. Utah has not lost its autonomy over standards and assessments.

4. The Utah core standards:
May be changed by the State Board at any time.
Were not developed, funded or mandated by the federal government.
Are not federal or national standards.
Were not obligatory because of Utah’s Race to the Top application.
Are not under the control or manipulation of special interest groups.
Are not obligatory because of Utah’s NCLB flexibility request application.

In a letter dated March 7, 2012, Arne Duncan, the Secretary of the United States Department of Education affirmed that “states have the sole right to set learning standards.” In Utah’s flexibility request we informed the Department of Education that we have chosen to use our Utah core standards. If and when the State Board decides to change or revise Utah’s standards they will do so.

The USOE has never, prior to Common Core, signed legal documents that have bound Utah’s ability to control standards and assessments; because of this we need to proceed carefully to fully understand our legal obligations. I have studied the issues related to Common Core and the SBAC for the past few months. I have also personally talked with Norman Jackson, a retired Judge from Utah, who analyzed the legally binding documents signed by Utah. You can see a copy of his analysis at http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/judge-norman-jackson-the-two-schools-of-thought-of-citizens-versus-the-utah-state-office-of-education/. I have also discussed the topic with three attorneys, one of which was my congressman, that have reviewed the legally binding documents related to the SBAC and No child Left Behind waiver. Their mutual consensus is contrary to Brenda Hale’s statements above. The documents clearly state that Utah cannot take anything away from the standards and can only add up to 15% additional material and the additional material will not be assessed. There is no amendment process associated with the standards. They are copyrighted by a private entity. They are not owned by Utah. The following link to Utah’s NCLB waiver application states that our adoption of the Common Core standards satisfies the requirements of waiver. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/eseaflex/ut.pdf (please see page 18 and 84.)

Bill Evers, a research fellow from Hoover Institute and a member of former Governor Romney’s educational advisory committee, recently informed Governor Herbert on July 9, 2012, in my presence, that he had personally discovered a minor error in the language arts standards, dealing with vowels. He contacted the authors, whom he knew, and they acknowledged that he was correct in his discovery, but informed him that the standards had already been printed and adopted in 35 states so they could not be changed; it was too late. If one person could not change an agreed-upon, blatant error in the standards, do you think Utah will have the ability to make changes to the standards? Mr. Evers’ expert opinion was that we will not have that freedom. Is our educational freedom worth giving up for an experimental common core?

I have seen a copy of the letter written by Arne Duncan. I asked Kent Talbert, an attorney focused on K-12 education, for his expert opinion and his initial thoughts were that it might be a political letter and not a legally binding letter. Have you had the letter reviewed by your attorneys to see if it would hold up in court or has any teeth in it to counter your signatures on legally binding documents? The letter is not a carte blanche for Utah to disregard legal obligations. Please seek legal advice before you make statements to the contrary.

Recently Mr. Evers compared Utah’s previous mathematical standards with Common Core’s and stated that the new common core math standards are lower than our previous standards. Do you have an educational analysis of the standards that you can release? What criteria did the validation committee use to judge the standards? After postings like Brenda Hales’ on your blog, I can no longer accept your word at face value. You are in a position of trust and you cannot throw statements around without documentation. It will ultimately hurt your cause and not strengthen it. I urge you to be cautious on the statements that you choose to release to the public. I hope that the blog represents Ms. Hales’ opinion and not the opinions of the entire USOE.

I listened to the Rod Arquette show last week with Joel Coleman and Craig Coleman. I felt like they were sincere in their desire to help educate our children. But again, they provided no references for their beliefs that Common Core would raise, rather than lower standards in Utah. I was also pleased to hear that the USOE will vote on the possibility of exiting the SBAC in August. I would like to lend my support and encouragement for the USOE to withdraw from the SBAC.

I do not usually write letters of this nature but when I read Ms. Hales’ blog I could no longer sit idly by. I feel that it is important that the USOE know how their words are perceived by the public. Obviously, I have a vested interest in the education of my children. There are few things that will move a parent more than the wellbeing of their children.

Thank you for taking the time to read over this. I have attached below a letter that I gave to Governor Herbert on July 9, 2012.

Sincerely ,

Janette Hall

Working Around the Fact that Common Core Math Dumbs Down Our Kids   Leave a comment

I am happy that James Judd is the new director of human resources at Wasatch School District because he is an open-minded man. He took over two hours yesterday, to listen and to discuss the possibility of writing a more parent-friendly, “fed-wary” FERPA policy, and he also discussed the Common Core math sequence with me and four of my mom/teacher friends.

The sad news: he explained why my daughter lwas taught nothing in her 9th grade Common Core math this year.

There is “a bubble” of repetition, he said, for 6th graders and 9th graders.  This is because Algebra I used to be taught to 8th graders before Common Core came, and now it’s taught to 9th graders.  Yes, you read that right.  (See the mathematician’s review that explains this in detail –pg 14 and 26-28)  http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf

The same repeater “bubble” thing happens for the 6th grade kids, with their 6th grade Common Core math.  So Mr. Judd freedly admitted that for these groups of kids, Common Core just repeats a year of math.  That’s the implementation process of Common Core.  It makes me wonder how long it will take before parents start screaming.  Why did we never get to vote whether or not we’d do Common Core?  Why are we all forced to dumb our kids down? And when is the truth going to be publicized by the USOE or the USSB or the Dept. of Education or the CCSSO or the National Governor’s Association?

I wish the State School Board would have been more honest with us.  I wish instead of sending out fliers claiming increased rigor and higher standards, http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/DOCS/coreStandardsPamphlet.aspx

—they would have admitted that for many kids, Common Core math is going to be a step down.  Equality doesn’t always mean a step up.

I’m going to write to the local and state school boards about this.   Board@schools.utah.gov

Will you?

Here’s the email for the Utah state school board again: Board@schools.utah.gov

Wasatch School Board’s Meaningless New FERPA Policy Out for 30-Day Review   Leave a comment

Dear Citizens of Heber Valley,  Please direct comments about FERPA and the importance of family privacy protection to the Wasatch School Board and District Officials at: “JAMES JUDD” <james.judd@wasatch.edu>, “VICCI GAPPMAYER” <vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu>, “TERRY SHOEMAKER” <terry.shoemaker@wasatch.edu>, “ANN HORNER” <ann.horner@wasatch.edu>, “DEBBIE JONES” <debbie.jones@wasatch.edu>, “WILMA COWLEY” <wilma.cowley@wasatch.edu>, “BLAIK BAIRD” <blaik.baird@wasatch.edu>, keith.johansen@wasatch.edu.

Here’s the public comment I submitted today:

Dear Wasatch School District,

Very few citizens will contact you during this 30-day period of public comment on the new, short, FERPA policy. Why? Last month, the board received many, many letters, but apparently, Vicci Gappmayer led the board to ignore us all and to do the exact opposite of what people had asked the board to do, which was to strengthen parental authority over children’s personally identifiable data.

Ms. Gappmayer said publically that she felt offended by the flier that citizens, including me, helped to put out, and she called it sensational and misleading.  It was not sensational or misleading. It was entirely truthful and accurate and was based on parental care for children’s privacy.

The district could have avoided a flier even needing to be published if it had not refused the request, unreasonably, to simply send out a districtwide email or newsletter or robocall, informing the public of the public comment opportunity.

Ms. Gappmayer’s new, dramatic rewrite of the district FERPA policy deleted all mention of parental consent or of personally identifiable information and can be seen as a deliberate attack on those parents and citizens who sent out the flier.  This is unfortunate.

Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings, this district deserves a meaningful FERPA policy. The new district policy is so vague and short that it amounts to no meaningful policy nor protection.

The board should not let go of its right to have a meaningful district policy.  The district should have a strong, meaningful policy that offers protection beyond minimal requirements.

Please understand the importance of having a strong district policy.  Being “obedient to law” is not as simple as it may appear. Our local role is not as simple as being obedient, as a child is obedient to parents, because in this case, the parents (state FERPA v. federal FERPA) are fighting, and one of the parents (federal) is schizophrenic about whether FERPA will loosen or strengthen federal access to personally identifiable data.

Having a state school board and a local school board provides checks and balances on the federal Dept. of Education dictating all policy.

The fact that the executive branch did not run their FERPA changes by Congress for approval, this January, sheds doubt on the legality of the federal FERPA regulations that this district is so eager to obey.  The fact that Larry Shumway said not to change your FERPA to avoid getting sued, should have been a consideration.  The Wasatch board disobeyed the State Superintendent in writing this new, short FERPA.

We collectively have allowed the feds to become almost an educational dictatorship.  So we are truly in a complex time. But that doesn’t mean we have to treat the Dept. of Education as if they really hold the right that they’ve assumed, to dictate every step that we, as a school district, make.  We need to be smarter than that.

Having a vague, short, unprotective policy can have terrible repercussions for this community. Think of what could happen if we didn’t have a strong and meaningful FERPA policy.  If the Department of Education were to change FERPA regulations again, without congressional approval, again, as they did in January– and this time, they wrote, “Regardless of parental consent, all children will have their fingerprints, photographs and blood samples sent to a D.C. database and have their hands microchipped, to ensure accountability and efficient access for educational testing,” this district’s new, short, policy would enforce it. No parent would be asked for permission. 

I do not agree with the lawyer who said that each of the FERPA policies we have looked at in the past few months, were just fine.  That lawyer does not care about our children like we do.  He is here as a paid employee to give legal advice, but his heart is not in it, as mine is and as (I hope) yours are.  He was wrong when he said any of the policies are fine.  Maybe legally they were all fine, but morally they were not.  There were different levels of parental involvement and consent.  There were different levels of federal ease of access to local data and to personally identifiable data.  He was looking only on the surface.  I am more concerned than he was, and so I am asking you to rewrite this FERPA policy to reflect that care.

This district should take a stand and determine for itself what its standards will be as far as it can discern and assert its right to do so.

Please add this sentence to the policy:  Wasatch District will never release personally identifiable information to any organization outside the Wasatch District without signed parental consent except in an emergency.

Thank you.

Christel Swasey

Local desire to protect student privacy conflicts with other agencies’ goals to examine private student data   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, 

Thank you for allowing public comment.  I wrote before but I do have more to say.

You might feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, stuck in the middle of negotiations, regulations, laws, local and state politics, and angry parents.  I imagine it feels like because you don’t have all the answers, you might just submit to those who claim to know more than you do or who seem more authoritative. 

I encourage you to stand up tall and know that you have as much or more authority than these others do, in your elected role.  You are the guardians of this little city’s public education system, and you have a very significant role to play today, that those entities who want easy access to citizens’ information cannot intimidate or bribe you into dismissing, without your consent.

I urge you to have confidence in yourselves and to do your own research and listen to the voices of the parents who care the very most about their children’s well being.

When it comes to believing the USOE, the USSB, the DoE, the UEN, the NCES, the IES, the SBAC, and the other data-collectors, please trust but verify.  We must not be naiively trusting; please don’t trust even the most well intentioned government claim without verifying.  In this case, the thing to verify is that our local desire to protect student privacy conflicts with other agencies’ goals to examine private student data.

There is a network of data-collecting that now starts in a child’s school and filters through its district, then through Utah (via the USOE, the P-20 Workforce, a massive longitudinal database, and via UEN’s partnership with UTrex, Choice Solutions Corporation, and the Utah Data Alliance).  Then the data on children gets dis-aggregated (according to Choice Solutions’ own statement http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm ) and this disaggregated data will be electronically exchanged, they have promised, to many “stakeholders”.  This is not good.

Unfortunately, you, our board, will not be able to control this disaggregation and electronic exchange with good intentions, your own integrity, or your own power.  Only a strong district FERPA policy can protect children and parents in this case.  What a daunting responsiblitity rests on you today! 

Once you let that information slip out of our school district, this huge network is waiting to descend upon it and pass it along to all these “stakeholders” which do include the executive branch, which does have a national database set up to do surveillance on our kids.  This is explained on their own websites.

IES is the research arm of the executive branch.  NCES, a branch of IES, defines it self as “the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.” http://nces.ed.gov/    http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/west/board.asp   

And WestEd, also called West Regional Lab, is a division of NCES.  Larry Shumway sits on that WestEd governing board; he is not on the side of privacy over student data and we need to recognize his position.  He will not step in.  We must protect the children ourselves from this massive data exchange of personally identifiable information.

A study of recent and ancient history shows the life and death importance of maintaining local freedom, autonomy, privacy and control. 

Again, thank you for listening.

Christel Swasey

Wasatch County School Board on KTMP Radio speaking about FERPA revisions   Leave a comment

https://sites.google.com/site/wasatchlive2/ 

You can listen to archives from the Impact Show with Bob Wren and Paul Royall on KTMP 1340 AM by clicking and making an account (free) and downloading (free).

I’ve been listening to Thursday’s show, where half of the Wasatch School Board made a guest appearance with Bob and Paul.  I’ve also been listening to Monday and Tuesday’s shows with “Three Moms” (Alisa, Renee and I) making guest appearances on the show.

We’ve all been talking about FERPA revisions.  Family Education Rights Privacy Act revisions.  Don’t tune out because the title’s long.

Why?

As parents, we should treasure FERPA, which has existed since the 1970s to protect family and student privacy.  Now that the United States executive branch, meaning Arne Duncan of the Department of Education, has illegally (without Congressional or Constitutional approval) revised federal FERPA, suddenly our local district –for some unknown reason– is doing the same thing.  Why, Wasatch School District?

Four local moms met with the Superintendent and told him that the board had made a major policy change without working ‘closely with the public’ as their bylaws state that they must.  So they gave us a thirty day public comment period that ends June 14.

So far, nine people have written to make a public comment, according to what the Board said on the radio on Thursday.  Nine people are alarmed that our district is attempting to give away parental consent over children’s personally identifiable data for the benefit and empowerment of the federal surveillance club.  Where is everyone else?

Many more might voice their opinions if the district would have sent out an email, a newsletter or a robocall (as they do for pajama day, teacher appreciation day, grandparents’ day, and football games).  You would think this might matter, too.

If you read this, even if it’s past the June 14th deadline, please do write to our school board and let them know how we feel about the importance of parental consent being more important than federal ease of access without parental consent to our children’s personally identifiable data.

What to say:  Keep it simple:   No matter how well intentioned, no one may have access to my children’s personally identifiable information without my consent! 

This is a no brainer for me.

Yet, some local and federal representatives have said that these FERPA policy changes provide further protections to the data.  Impossible.  Read them for yourself.  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf

Changes made by the federal, executive branch (without Congressional approval) and changes made to local district policy by our Wasatch School Board added additional parties that could have access to  child’s data without parental consent.  There are nine exceptions when someone without parental consent can access a child’s personal, and not just the aggregated, data.

So when the board says these revisions strengthen data privacy, they are not telling the truth!

Vicci Gappmayer at the District Office said that the board had to make these changes to our local policy to be in compliance with federal law, and that “State law trumps local policy and federal law trumps State.”  She did not explain where she found these laws.  Nor did she explain why her superior, State Superintendent Larry Shumway, said that districts are not required to change FERPA policy and they should proceed with caution if at all.  Did she not hear Mr. Shumway?  Did she disagree with him, and if so, why?

If her statement was true, and the U.S. education system is just a top down control, rather than a system of checks and balances that is equal on the local and on the federal level, then why do we still even need a local school board?

In the words of one smart dad I know who lives here in Heber, “If we are solely to be governed by the Ultimate Federal Law, we should just fire Terry and the board and let the federal government run our local schools. Oh wait, they already do.  We are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars by having an ineffective local board that is too afraid to stand up for the rights of parents and children in Wasatch County.”

In the past, schools released group data, called aggregated data, such as “Third graders averaged 79 percent on the reading test.”  Now schools are being asked to release dis-aggregated data, such as “Maria Jones got 79 percent on the reading test.” Worse, they’re being asked to release nonacademic data, such as “Maria Jones has ADHD, missed 7 days of school last year, has no father, speaks Tagalog, does not ride the school bus, has a history of behavior problems, is nicknamed Mimi, and her mother earns $100,000 per year.”

I heard one of our board members say that he takes privacy very seriously and would never release personally identifiable information.  If that is true, why not make it district policy?  Why have the policy say the feds can come in and read our test scores with individual names and other records attached, while our district would not actually do that?  Why not write it in black and white?  The school board makes no sense at all.  They are either naiive or dishonest.  I am honestly not sure which.  My father used to say it makes no difference if someone is a pawn or a knave; the consequences of their errors will be the same.

Furthermore, biometric data (iris reading, fingerprinting, DNA) is also being used to identify students. Look at page 4 of the new federal FERPA regulations:   http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf  It says:

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1232g) “Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

Look at the NCES website, the research arm for data collection for the executive branch: http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/datasets.aspx?class=StudentTracking .  It says:

Why do we need a National Education Data Model?

A lot of data is already being collected and used, but not everyone collects the same information. This often keeps databases from “talking” to each other and prevents key stakeholders from answering important questions about students and schools. 

So there is an assumption: the diversity that exists from state to state and district to district is a problem for the feds (the NCES) that keeps states and districts from answering THE FEDS’ questions, but why should we even be asked those questions?  Are they our dictators?  Our parents?  No.

What if we have no intention of answering those “important questions about students and schools”?  Yes, I am talking to you,  Arne Duncan and Barack Obama.  What right do you have to be asking question one?  Show me in the Constitution where you found that one or get out of my business.

Wasatch District’s FERPA policy should be written this way:

“Wasatch District Schools will never release personally identifiable information without parental consent”.   That is the right thing to do.

 

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