Archive for the ‘John Brandt’ Tag
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.
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.
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).
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?
Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used. –Used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families. I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further being “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss:
While John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject:
But first, an interjection: I want to introduce this article:
I like this article because it exposes the facts plainly, that parents are unaware that their children’s information is being shared without parental permission, beyond the school, beyond the district, and even beyond the state. It is verifiable and true.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names and income, is being watched by the U.S. government via schools.
Verify for yourself: The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist:
There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.
While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind…
These databases (State Longitudinal Database Systems, SLDS; also, P-20 and state data combinations such as the Utah Data Alliance) are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized,” according to alterations made to FERPA (Family Education Privacy Act) regulations by the Dept. of Education.
These now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate snoops (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for examples) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)
Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (behavioral qualities, dna, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify:
This is a nightmare of Big Brother in action, except it’s not a fiction. You can verify it all on the government’s own public sites, such as:
States would not get stimulus money if they didn’t agree to build the SLDS system.
So they all agreed. All.
I happened to ask the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.
They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply “No.”
No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are and will be tracked.
I ask you, dear readers, to turn your feelings about this intrusion toward positive action.
Call your governor.
If you are from Utah, Governor Herbert is here 801 538-1000 and here:
Public feeling and individual actions are the only, only chance we have to alter the course we are currently traveling.
Have you seen what’s happening over in Bluffdale? The building is called NSA. National Security Agency. (Or, Never Say Anything)
A new KSL article quotes William Binney, a Washington whistleblower, saying Utah’s new NSA is “a serious threat to civil liberties.”
Binney, who worked for the NSA for 32 years and still lives by the secure headquarters near Baltimore, says the NSA can dice billions of emails, phone calls and Internet records, looking for clues to terrorist plots. –But it also can, and does, snoop on citizens.
When Binney worked for NSA, Binney’s team had smartly built into the software some sophisticated protections so that communications by U.S. citizens would be protected from NSA snooping. But the NSA passed over his citizen-protective system, for an unexplained reason.
Binney retired in anger. According to KSL, Binney said:
“It didn’t take but probably a week or so after 9/11 that they decided to start spying on the U.S. domestically, on all U.S. citizens they could get.”
He now suspects the facility in Bluffdale will be used to store communication data so the NSA can sift through it, whether it’s from foreign terrorists or law-abiding U.S. citizens.
So I think this: the NSA, I’m sure, has legitimate duties, like ferreting out terrorist plots against innocent Americans. But I’m also very sure its doing some inappropriate data snooping. Where are the checks and balances? Who’s watching the watchers?
The NSA is very tight-lipped and secretive.
But there are others who aren’t secretive about their data-gathering goals.
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, comes to mind. He’s always making speeches about the importance of increasing data-gathering efforts to have “more robust databases” to “increase accountability” to the federal agency.
John Brandt of Utah comes to mind. He directs the Utah Data Alliance’s mashing of data from six Utah agencies using taxpayer money and Utah State School Board approval
. He’s got a powerpoint that explains how he’ll then share this data from schools to USOE and Utah higher ed and then to the federal Department of Ed. He won’t return emails from me or my friends on the subject of data collection. And he works for the NCES (federal research agency) as well as working as Utah Director of Technology. He’s not going to be making speeches about federalism.
Even David Wiley, BYU Professor, comes to mind.
He told me that he feels it’s “totally appropriate” for researchers and governments to conduct research on students without getting parental consent because the importance of the research and the logistical difficulties of getting parental consent trump the rights of parents.
This scares me.
Who’s protecting our civil liberties, our privacy and our parental rights?
The lack of public outcry concerns me. But I think it’s mostly based on people simply not knowing. Or not considering the ramifications of the path we’re moving down.
Some of my own friends who I’ve brought this matter up with, say, “Who cares if they’re tracking us? I have nothing to hide.”
Maybe not from God. –But from theives, stalkers, hackers, or people who are happy about communism? We must keep private things private.
There are reasons we have locks on our doors and walls others can’t see through. There are reasons for books like “1984″ and the other George Orwell and Ayn Rand classics.
Privacy is a sacred freedom. When governments know everything about everyone, people become cattle, prodded and controlled by the all-knowing agencies “who know best”. Hackers and stalkers and thieves can get government jobs and can get access to the private data of citizens, if there aren’t protections in place.
Could Sweden have enforced their anti-homeschooling law if they didn’t have absolute name, number and address tracking on every citizen?
Could China have enforced mandatory abortions under the one-child-only law if they didn’t have absolute knowledge of the medical and family records of every citizen?
Could governments separate children from parents to fulfill the Olympic dreams of that government, if the government was not tracking the physical traits of even tiny children?
There are endless ways people can abuse having access to citizens’ private data.
Surveillance on citizens is a dangerous, slippery slope.
And why won’t even the Utah State Office of Education discuss it? Why is this so under the public radar?
I think I know.
It’s called “spiral of silence” theory.
Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann wrote the ”spiral of silence” communications theory to explain how atrocities come to pass in civilized societies.
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, the German political scientist, explained how Jews’ status became so widely agreed upon, during World War II under the Nazi control. Hitler dominated the whole society and the minority Jews became silent due to the fear of isolation or separation.
The one view dominated the public scene and others disappeared from the public awareness as it adherents became silent. People feared separation or isolation from those around them, so they kept their attitudes to themselves when they felt they were in the minority. This process is “Spiral of Silence”.
If a teacher doesn’t like the data collection that’s happening on students, or a board member, or even a state-level leader is not satisfied with the decision, the one person does not express the thought publicly. Why?
1. They may feel unsupported by the others on the school, state or federal level. Peer pressure.
2. Fear of isolation or job loss
3. Fear of rejection (adult popularity contests)
4. They may try to save a job by suppressing or avoiding personal statements in public.
Until many of us speak out and speak up, the spiral of silence will grow. The perceived majority belief –that most people somehow agree with all this student and citizen data collection and the new norm of NOT asking for parental consent, and the communist-style common core implementation (without a vote) –will grow if we are quiet. Nobody will stop its implementation, and it will take over as the new norm if we are quiet.
This is why I speak up. This is why I ask you to research for yourself, and then speak up.
I believe more of us are against this (once we understand what it is) than there are those for it. It’s creepy and must be stopped.
SLDS means: Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
SLDS is a citizen tracking program, and a grant program, that rewards states financially for participating. It’s also called P-20, which stands for preschool through age 20 (workforce) tracking. I see citizen tracking as creepy and Orwellian. What do you see?
The federal website shows, here–
— that SLDS was presented as a financial prize to states, a grant, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It sounded good, but in reality, its purpose –besides the uneven redistributing of taxpayers’ money– is to track citizens (students).
The assumption was that everyone everywhere would approve of citizen tracking and would want to be tracked. A secondary assumption is that the government’s holding detailed, intimate information about its citizens would never be used against anybody wrongly, and that none of this has nothing to do with constitutional rights to privacy. (For more on that, click here:
I highlighted the first element of data to be collected because it speaks about PII, personally identifiable information. PII can be a name, a social security number, a blood sample, handwriting sample, a fingerprint, or almost anything else. The fact that the government included “except as permitted by federal/state law” is VERY significant because the federal Department of Education did the dastardly deed of changing federal privacy law, known previously as the protective, family-empowering, FERPA law. The Department of Education did this without Congressional approval and are now being sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for doing it. But as it stands now, FERPA has been altered and won’t be put back to its formerly protective state. So parental rights over children’s data, and parental consent rules, have been cast aside. –All in the name of getting lots and lots and lots of data available, whether with malignant or benign intention, especially for federal use.
Here it is, pasted directly from the government site and available in English or Spanish:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: $250 million
Type of Grant: Competitive
The program provides grants to states to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.
Since it started in fiscal year 2005, the program has awarded grants worth $265 million to 41 states and the District of Columbia. The Recovery Act competition requires that the data systems have the capacity to link preschool, K-12, and postsecondary education as well as workforce data. To receive State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, a state must provide an assurance that it will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the 12 elements described in the America COMPETES Act, and any data system developed with Statewide longitudinal data system funds must include at least these 12 elements. The elements are:
- An unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law);
- The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student;
- Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school;
- Students scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
- Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject;
- Students scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college;
- A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students;
- Information from students’ transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned;
- Data on students’ success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses;
- Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college;
- A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability; and
- The ability to share data from preschool through postsecondary education data systems.
Tonight at 6:05, I’ll be on the Morgan Philpot show as a guest, speaking about this important issue and all its many tentacles, including the E.P.I.C. lawsuit against the Dept. of Education, the statements on data-mashing by Utah’s John Brandt and D.C.’s Joanne Weiss, letters I’ve received from the USOE on the subject of student tracking, and what we can do about it.
Tune in if you live nearby. KNRS.
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.
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:
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.
Keeping Kids Safe is Bill Wardell’s radio show. He invited Alisa Ellis, Renee Braddy and I on his show today to discuss data privacy issues, Common Core national education, and what most parents do not know about Common Core.
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:)
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
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;
(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.
There is still plenty o’confusion in the state of Utah. Lawmakers are realizing that due to the Utah Constitution’s giving authority to the Board to determine educational issues, they are almost powerless (except to defund Common Core). The board seems skittish and embarrassed now that so many of us know the new standards are inferior and that our freedoms have been traded for what started out as a way to increase Utah’s chance at a federal education grant during an economic low. And some on the USOE and state school board ship seem to be steering toward the possibility of purchasing SBAC tests despite the fact that Utah just voted to cut membership ties with SBAC.
The board now admits it’s a federal program. Lawmakers are not fully aware yet of all aspects of Common Core, while the Board is digging in their heels about giving any references for their claims of increased rigor or local control.
It’s a great drama, but a sad one.
Illustration: After the meeting, Alisa Ellis and I asked School Board Chair Debra Roberts if we might get a chance to sit down and talk with her about all of this. She said, “We’ve already wasted $10,000 in Board time as this group has been sitting down with us so much.”
Really? We asked who they have actually been talking/sitting with. (I’ve never had the opportunity, but would like it. I have had the majority of my many emails ignored and was told “no” to a sit-down conference with USOE lawyer Carol Lear.)
Chair Roberts said, “Well, we’ve sat with Christel many times.” Hmm. I said, “I am Christel. And that is not true.”
She insisted it was. So, I asked who said that they had sat and talked with me. She didn’t say. I said that somebody has misinformed you or somebody needs to take a lie detector test.
She hurried away, refusing to even discuss sitting down with us. So did Superintendent Shumway. Strange. The board now seems afraid of the truth that might come out during a legitimate discussion with an educated citizen, and they simply will not give references for their claims nor will they sit down and talk like gentlemen. Or gentlewomen.
Both the Tribune and the Deseret News covered the historic meeting of the House and Senate Education Committee on Common Core at the State Capitol yesterday. But they failed to report on some of the more fascinating moments.
Like what? Well, they skipped the Data Alliance’s data-mashing discussion and skipped the probing questions legislators directed toward both the pro-Common Core, such as Utah Superintendent Larry Shumway (and his staff) and to the visiting experts who testified at the meeting, the heroes of Utah’s day:
Jim Stergios of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute and Ted Rebarber of the D.C. -based AccountabilityWorks
The papers also totally blew the hilarious part, where Rep. Moss’ rhetorical questions got “Yes!”es –called out by several audience members including me, after Rep. Moss asked, “Have these people even read the standards? Are they English teachers? Do they have Master’s Degrees?”
So, here are links to the local newspapers’ coverage of the event:
And here’s my version. Photos first, details follow.
Senator Howard Stephenson: he said if he were “the king of Utah,” he would follow the recommendation of the visiting education experts.
Representative Francis Gibson: he asked Stergios and Rebarber to clarify whether it was true that Massachusetts had had the highest educational standards in the nation [and had tested as an independent country, ranking in the top six internationally] before they dropped their standards to adopt Common Core. You could have heard a pin drop. Stergios answered: it was the very reason a Massachusetts scholar traveled to Utah to testify against Common Core.
Rebarber and Stergios: Why not brand Utah as the great state with courage to be independent of federal manipulation via Common Core?
Jim Stergios and Ted Rebarber have agreed to share written copies of their ten minute testimonies to the Utah legislature, but until I get a copy, here are a just few bullet points:
- The quality of the Common Core standards is mediocre. Cutting classic literature to make room for informational texts has been said by Dr. Sandra Stotsky to be weakening college prep, taking away from the richer and broader vocabulary of classic literature.
- The math standards are less rigorous; for example, they place Alg. I in high school rather than in middle school. Math lacks a coherent grade by grade progression. The Common Core experimental approach to teaching geometry has never been successfully piloted in the world.
- Stergios quoted Jason Zimba, math architect for Common Core, who said that passing the Common Core test in math will only show a student is prepared to enter a nonselective community college.
- Stergios said that CCSSO administrator Gene Wilhoit’s recent statement to the Utah School Board that “there’s no Common Core police,” is misleading. Stergios said that gentlemen’s agreements quickly become mandates, as the pattern of the Dept. of Education’s recent history shows. It is best to rely on what is in writing.
- Stergios mentioned the Race to the Top for DISTRICTS, which is brand new. This shows zero respect for state authority over education. There is a steady pattern of encroachment by the federal government on education.
- Common Core did not have adequate deliberation; after a 2 day approval and no public input, Utah adopted Common Core. Even Fordham Institute, a pro-common core think tank, rated Utah math standards higher prior to adoption of Common Core.
- Stergios said Utah should brand itself as independent, thus attracting more talent and economic growth by reversing the adoption of Common Core.
- Legislators hold the purse. There’s a separation of powers between the legislature and the State School Board, which holds the authority over determining standards. There’s also the Constitutional principle of checks and balances. The ESEA waiver shows the federal arm is tying funds to adoption of Common Core –or to a college program that the Dept. of Ed must approve. If legislators don’t approve of either the experimental, inferior aspect, or the federally-promoted aspect of the standards, they can withhold all Common Core funding. The school board will have to create independent standards.
- NAPE tests provide national results; SAT and ACT do not. They are only used by certain states, not all.
- SBAC’s passing scores are non-negotiable; the purpose is to define what proficient means. Utah can’t affect SBAC.
- Federal Dept of Education has herded states into a set of standards. The benefits for collaboration are over when all have the same standards, whether you call them Utah Core or Common Core. It is the same.
- Texas’ Robert Scott has said he would love to do collaborative work with other states, creating an item bank rather than exact common tests. There are other approaches and ways that don’t require everyone to be the very same.
- The legislature has a duty to protect the right of Utah citizens not to give up education to federal control. Protecting state sovereignty is a legitimate concern.
Of the nearly packed to capacity room, who spoke up or asked questions? Several lawmakers:
Rep. Ken Sumison:
Who spoke up from the Utah Data Alliance and NCES? One man:
And who spoke at lennnnggggth from the Utah State School Board?
Superintendent Larry Shumway
Assistant Superintendent Judy Park
(who used the word “thrilled” multiple times in the same sentence as “sharing with the Department of Education”)
–and Utah State School Board Chair Debra Roberts:
Chair Roberts said: “I don’t care what the federal government has to say…I will listen to Utah educators.” (But she refuses to speak for even five minutes to educators like me, who oppose Common Core. )
Others in the audience (non-speaking roles) included:
The Honorable Judge Norman Jackson: (who has thoroughly reviewed the legal aspects of Common Core and based on his assessment, recommended Utah reject Common Core)
Rep. Kraig Powell
who has been studying both sides of Common Core with interest
And the pro-freedom in education activist, Alisa Ellis, with many more citizens against Common Core restraints:
So, with the exception Aaron Osmond –who says he’s to the point of nausea because of how much he’s had to face Common Core controversy –most legislators and citizens and teachers still don’t understand what Common Core is. I make this judgement from having heard very important, basic questions asked by legislators.
Sen. Stephenson, Rep. Gibson, Rep. Nielsen, Rep. Moss, Rep. Christianson, Rep. Sumison and others asked good, probing questions and made clear, excellent points, such as Rep. Sumison’s “Whoever pays, makes the rules.” (He wasn’t referring to the fact that the legislators hold the Utah public purse, but to the fact that the federal government has financially incentivized Common Core.)
–I’ll get to the rest of the legislators in a minute.
First, all in the audience had to trudge through almost two hours of the Pro-Common Core Show led by Superintendent Larry Shumway and Judy Park.
Park reported on the No Child Left Behind waiver. Dr. Park bubbled and gushed about what she called her “thrill of sharing Utah’s work with the Department of ED” in applying for No Child Left Behind. She used the word “sharing” and “thrilled” multiple times. Superintendent Shumway said that he was “offended” that people “in this room” have implied that he gets something out of sitting on boards outside Utah other than providing a helpful service. He said he receives no pay for sitting on the board of CCSSO (The Council of Chief State School Officers). He did not mention another board he sits on, WestEd, which is the test writer for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
John Brandt and his staffer said the Utah Data Alliance is no threat to citizen privacy, although, he chuckled, ”there are no guarantees,” and he admitted that ”about 10 people will have clearance to access personally identifiable” citizen information.
The Q + A:
So: What did the legislators want to know? What did the pro and con answerers say?
When Rep. Moss asked her rhetorical questions and got “Yes!”es shouted out in response, Superintendent Shumway answered her, too: “Standards set a base line. Standards don’t set a cap.” (I thought: Really? What does the 15% speed limit on learning set by the Dept of Education, and copyrighted by NGA/CCSSO, do– if it does not cap our rights to educate as we see fit? Please.)
When Rep. Stephenson pointed to the academic reviews of Common Core that are unfavorable to the school board’s claims that the standards will increase rigor and strengthen legitimate college prep, Superintendent Shumway deflected the question. Waving aside official reviews by actual members of the only official national Common Core Validation Committee, professors who refused to sign off on the Common Core standards as being adequate, Superintendent Shumway said: “there’s no dearth of documents.” (The referenced reviews of Dr. Sandra Stotsky on English and by Dr. James Milgam on math are available in Exhibit A and B here:
and in many other places.
Rep. Christensen said he wants Utah to be independent and said, “Education is a local matter.” He was troubled by the”implicit recognition of federal supremacy,” illustrated by the majority of states having asked the federal government for waivers from No Child Left Behind. He added, “We’re going down a road” he is not happy about, illustrated by the fact he cited: a school board member said Utah had paid a $90,000 fine for noncompliance with No Child Left Behind.
In response, Superintendent Shumway said that there were various disclaimers in the No Child Left Behind application.
Rep. Nielsen asked if it was true that by 7th grade, under Common Core math, students would be two years behind world class standards. Jim Stergios responded that indeed, Common Core was a step backward for Utah, but it would be closer to one year behind. For other states, Common Core brings math standards back two years.
Rep. Nielsen stated concerns about local control, saying that the U.S. Dept of Education uses terms like “allows” this and “allows” that. Sup. Shumway responded that “We are navigating through compliated waters.”
Sen. Osmond and Sen. Stephenson asked cost-related questions: hadn’t Utah already borne the brunt of the online costs for technology to match Common Core? Ted Rebarber answered that the state should do a cost analysis as other states have done. Common Core requires transformative realignment to the national standards. Rebarber asked, “Why do it?” –Since the cost/benefit analysis shows Utah is giving away state authority while adding costs, for inferior standards or at best, very similar to previously held, state standards.
Sen. Stephenson asked about the “legitimate concerns about abandoning what districts are doing” concerning assessments. Sup. Shumway said, “We haven’t preselected any vendor [for testing]. We were careful not to create requirements that would exclude anyone.” Shumway invited any Utahn to go to schools.utah.gov and click on “popular links” and submit input on specific standards that Utahns find problematic. He said these must be academically central comments, not comments about state sovereignty over education.
Several legislators questioned the timing of simultaneously asking the public for feedback to change the standards when the test Request for Proposals (RFP) has already been written and the SBAC has long been in the test writing process. How could Utah’s changed standards match? (I would add, how do you think we’re going to get away with changing more than 15% of our standards when it’s copyrighted and the Dept. of Ed. is aiming for seamless commonality between states?)
Sup. Shumway said that the timetables are challenging.
Both Rep. Nielsen and Rep. Christensen were concerned with the costs of Common Core and the state longitudinal data system (SLDS), costs which have not been studied by Utah. The SLDS grant will run out in 2013.
Utah Technology Director John Brandt responded that he hoped the legislature would continue to fund SLDS, ”this valuable tool.”
Valuable tool for whom? Children? Parents? Freedom lovers? –Excuse me while I run screaming from the room and cross-stitch and frame in gold the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.
The SLDS and Data Alliance is either–
- What John Brandt and his team said it is, yesterday: a state network of data (never to be shared with federal agencies) –a way to share preschool-to-workforce data about Utahns, among six state agencies (Dept. of Workforce Services, Utah State Office of Education, and more). Brandt assured legislators that personally identifiable portions of this data would be only accessed by about ten people in the state, but countless people can access the nonidentifiable portions of the data.
This makes more sense since Brandt belongs to the Dept. of Education’s research arm, the NCES, and he also belongs to -and chairs– the group that developed and copyrighted the Common Core standards, the CCSSO or Council of Chief State School Officers. NCES has a long-standing “National Data Collection Model” you can view here:
So Brandt is a fed, along with being the Technology Director for the state of Utah.
Relevantly, the Dept. of Education’s Chief of Staff, Joanne Weiss, has recently said that she’s combining or “mashing” data systems of federal agencies and is “helping” states (Oh, thank you!) by writing reports to assist them in developing research partnerships. She has said, ”Politicians often warn of the law of unintended consequences—as if all unintended consequences are negative ones—but in the world of data, we should also be aware of the law of welcome surprises.” (Weiss at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) annual conference.
Thanks, Ms. Weiss. That makes me feel better.
I will keep this in mind while I continue to study exemplary progressive collectivism such as China’s Ministry of Public Security, as I recall the “data sharing” on citizens in Germany’s 1940s, or as I enjoy George Orwell’s immortal “1984″.
Utah, let’s keep our wits about us.
There’s a meeting, open to the public, to be held in room 30 in the House Building at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. This meeting will be important, as heavy hitters will be speaking about Common Core issues:
Dr. Larry Shumway, Utah Superintendent of Schools, John Brandt, Technology Director, and Dr. Judy Park, Associate Superintendent, will be speaking.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas, member of Common Core Validation Committee
–and Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, will be speaking.
A G E N D A
Education Interim Committee – Utah Legislature
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 • 2:00 p.m. • Room 30 House Building
1. Committee Business
2. Flexibility Waiver
Utah is among the 32 states granted a flexibility waiver to replace the federal accountability system created under No Child Left Behind with its own state accountability system. Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, schools will be evaluated based on a new state accountability system, and school performance reports will be issued this fall showing each school’s results under the new state accountability system. Committee members will receive a briefing on the flexibility waiver and the new state accountability system.
3. Utah Data Alliance and the State Longitudinal Data System
As a collaborative, multi-organizational partnership, the Utah Data Alliance seeks to enhance the quality of educational research and analysis in Utah regarding policies, practices, and programs by utilizing an integrated statewide longitudinal data system of individual, de-identified information. The Utah Data Alliance provides policy and decision makers research findings with the goal of improving education and workforce policy and practice. Committee members will receive a briefing on the Utah Data Alliance and the state longitudinal data system.
4. Report on Utah’s Core Standards and Participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
Dr. Shumway will report on a process for the State Board of Education to receive and consider proposed changes to Utah’s core standards for English language arts and mathematics. He will also report on State Board of Education action regarding Utah’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.
5. Common Core
Dr. Stotsky, a member of the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, will testify on the common core standards. Mr. Robert Scott, Commission of Education of Texas, a state that has not adopted the common core, will express his concerns with the common core.
• Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas
• Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education of Texas
6. Other Items/Adjourn
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.
(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.