The story of Common Core and data mining begins as most stories do, with a huge, unmet need.
Self-appointed “stakeholder” know-it-alls at the federal level (also at state, corporate, and even university levels) determined that they had the right, and the need, for open access to personal student data– more so than they already had.
They needed state school systems to voluntarily agree to common data core standards AND to common learning standards to make data comparisons easy. They didn’t care what the standards were, as teachers and parents and students do; they only cared that the standards would be the same across the nation.
So, without waiting around for a proper vote, they did it. The CEDS (Common Education Data Standards) were created by the same people who created and copyrighted Common Core: the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). No surprise.
Because the federal “need” to control schools and data was and is illegal and unconstitutional –the federal government “needed” to do (and did) at least six sneaky things.
SIX SNEAKY THINGS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY:
1. Sneaky Thing Number One: It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This act created a virtual national database.
These SLDS’s had to be interoperable within states and outside states with a State Interoperability Framework. Utah, for example, accepted $9.6 million to create Utah’s SLDS. Think about it. All states have an SLDS, and they are built to be interoperable. How is this not a de facto national database?
2. Sneaky Thing Number Two: It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”.
So now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.
For more information on this, study the lawsuit against the Department of Education by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC).
The Department of Ed also altered FERPA’s definitions of terms, including what would be defined as “personally identifiable information”.
So personally identifiable, shareable information now includes biometric information, (which is behavioral and biological information) collected via testing, palm scanning or iris scanning, or any other means. Schools have not been told that the information they submit to the state SLDS systems are vulnerable to federal and corporate perusal. Legislators write bills that call for the testing of behavioral indicators— but have they considered how this can damage a student’s lifelong need for, and right to, privacy?
The Department of Education openly promotes schools collecting data about students’ personalities and beliefs in the report called “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.” This document promotes the use of facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors and other measures of students’ beliefs and emotions. See page 44.
3. Sneaky Thing Number Three: The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers —copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.
The CCSSO, or “Superintendents’ Club” as I like to call it, is a private group with no accountability to voters. This makes it in-valid and un-American, as far as governance goes. The CCSSO has a stated mission: to disaggregate student data. Disaggregate means to take away anonymity.
The CCSSO states that it has a mission to collect data nationally in partnership with the US Dept of Ed: “The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.
The CCSSO site states that its data collection effort is a USDOE partnership: “The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United Staes Department of Education.”
(Do you recall voting for this arrangement, anyone? Anyone? –Me neither! )
4. Sneaky Thing Number Four: It used private-public partnerships to promote data linking among agencies. The Data Quality Campaign is one example. The National Data Collection Model is another example. The Common Educational Data Standards is another example.
What do these “models” really model?
Example one: from the Data Quality Campaign: “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 Federal-to-CCSSO partnership. So nothing will be kept from any governmental agency; nothing is to be sacred or private if it is known by an SLDS serving entity (any state-funded, state-accountable school).
Example two: from the National Data Collection Model:
your child’s name
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
nonschool activity involvement
maternal last name
– and even cause of death.
Proponents point out that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; not yet. But it’s a federally partnered data model and many states are following it.
5. Sneaky Thing Number Five: The Department of Ed created grants for Common Core testing and then mandated that those testing groups synchronize their tests, report fully and often to the U.S. Department of Education, share student-level data, and produce “all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department”.
So federally funded Common Core tests require Common data interoperability standards.
Check out that Cooperative Agreement document here.
But, do you think this “Agreement” information does not apply to you because your state dropped its SBAC or PARCC membership –as several states have? Think again. There is an incestuous, horrific pool of private and public organizations, all of which are VOLUNTARILY agreeing to Common Core based, technological interoperability and data collection standards!
The Data Quality Campaign lists as its partners dozens of groups– not only the CCSSO and NGA (Common Core creators), not only the College Board –which is now run by the lead architect of Common Core, David Coleman; –not only Achieve, Inc., the group that contracted with CCSSO/NGO to write the Common Core, but even the School Interoperability Framework Association, the Pell Institute (Pell Grants), Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, American Institutes for Research (Utah’s Common Core testing provider) and many other Common Core product-providing organizations.
So virtually everyone’s doing data the same way whether they’re privately or publically funded. This should freak anybody out. It really should. We the People, individuals, are losing personal power to these public-private partnerships that cannot be un-elected and that are not subject to the transparency laws of elected offices.
6. Sneaky Thing Number Six: The Department of Education directly lied to the American Society of News Editors. In a June 2013 speech given to the American Society of News Editors, Secretary Duncan mocked the concerns of parents and educators who are fighting Common Core and its related student data mining:
“A new set of standards — rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs — are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important… They make.. 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. And 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.”
Despite what the state school board and the federal Department of Education claim, corporations do know that Common Core and student data mining are interdependent.
CEO of Escholar Shawn Bay spoke at a recent White House event called “Datapalooza.” He said (see his speech on this video, at about minute 9:15) that Common Core “is the glue that actually ties everything together” for student data collection.
And President Obama himself has called his educational and data related reforms so huge that they are “cradle to career” -affecting reforms. Secretary Duncan now refers to the reforms not as “K-12″ but as “p-12″ meaning preschool/prenatal. These reforms affect the most vulnerable, but not in a positive way, and certainly not with voters’ knowledge and consent.
The sneakiness and the privacy invasion isn’t just a federal wrong; there’s state-level invasion of local control, too: to be specific, our state’s robbing parents of the right to fully govern their own children.
When I asked my state school board how to opt out of having my children tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System, I was told that the answer was no. There was no way to opt out, they said: all children registered in any state school system (charters, online schools, homeschool-state hybrid programs) are tracked by the SLDS. Here’s that letter.
Despite Constitutional and G.E.P.A.-law prohibitions, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted that “The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more”. Duncan also said, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.” (Yes, it’s been so quiet that the people governed by it weren’t asked about this revolution.)
Yet, federal speeches, and scholarly research conferences and corporate marketers now openly push for common standards and common data systems. From the official White House website to federal educational grant applications to federally partnered corporate sites, to Secretary Duncan’s speeches, there are countless examples to show that the priorities of the federal government are these four things: 1) standards 2) staff 3) “robust” national data systems 4) labeling certain schools as low-achieving.
And the data product sales companies couldn’t agree more.
Common Core proponents insist that Common Core has nothing to do with data mining. But the federal government always bundles the common standards and the data systems, always. This federal push for common data standards and common education standards ought to be household knowledge. That is step number one, seeing the federal patterns and federal pushes for what they are.
So, what difference does it make? I hear people say that since they have nothing to hide, they’re unconcerned about who’s tracking their children or their families without consent.
I say our founding fathers didn’t write the Constitution without inspiration.
The Constitution describes the God-given right to privacy:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
How easy will it be for those with access to the national databases to label a person as behaviorally unstable and therefore, unworthy of passing a background check for a job or for a gun purchase? How easy will it be for those with access to the databases to search and seize anything at all that they deem inappropriate, that they deem threatening, that they deem theirs?
Privacy is not properly protected by our state school systems and those who ought to know this, don’t. It’s not their fault; the truth has been carefully, quietly hidden. But widespread knowledge of the facts can –and must-– alter these facts.
Postscript: About Control
State school boards tell citizens to give them feedback on the Common Core Standards, and not to discuss anything else related to Common Core or its governance structures.
But citizens have the right to determine what will be discussed; this is America. And any discussion of the standards themselves can only be very temporarily relevant.
Why is academic argument about Common Core only temporarily relevant?
Because two private D.C. trade groups, the NGA (Governors’ club) and the CCSSO (Superintendents’ club) own the standards and have copyrighted them. They alone control the standards. The states do not; nor do the voters in the states.
Inside the state: We can alter the standards only by 15%, according to federal mandates and the writings of the private trade groups that created the standards.
Outside the state: We have no voice in future alterations to the standards. There is no written amendment process outlined for states to have a voice in “their” standards. There is no representative process. That’s why Common Core is unAmerican.
This is why we call Common Core education without representation. It is also accurate to call the education reform package citizen surveillance without warrant, as detailed above.
For a 15-minute crash-course on the connection between Common Core and student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:
Utah’s State Office of Education appears to be, once again, quite secretively rubber-stamping controversial and politically loaded national standards and calling them Utah’s own standards– this time, for science.
The English and math deception happened a few years ago when the USOE did the same thing with the adoption of Common Core’s math and English national standards, calling them “Utah Core Standards”.
This week, when the Utah State School Board meets, it will discuss statewide changes to science standards. They do not openly admit that in fact the Utah draft mirrors the controversial NGSS standards. In fact, the official statement from the State Office of Education states nothing about Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) but the new “Utah” science standards drafts have now been exposed as the very same as the NGSS Standards– by multiple parents who serve on the Utah parent committee for science standards.
Vincent Newmeyer, one of the parents who serves on the parent committee, has given permission to share his response to the revised standards. He says that he is alarmed at the errors and unfitness of these standards for Utah students as well as the deceptiveness of the rewriting committee.
He explains that the Utah rewriting committee appears to be attempting to hide, by renumbering or rearranging, the truth that the new Utah standards are just NGSS standards. He notes:
“Utah’s science standards rewriting committee has removed all but the performance expectations [from national NGSS] and renumbered them. A few performance expectation sequences have been rearranged and one new NGSS standard was inserted. The Performance Expectations are essentially identical to what they were in the previous draft. Again, in the introductory material it is still claimed to be Utah grown standards, perhaps because Brett Moulding from Utah is the chair of the NGSS writing committee. These performance expectations as prepared are only one word different from the published NGSS Performance Expectations –yet again there is no attribution to NGSS.”
He points to the NGSS national science standards guidelines which state: “States… that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright notice provision of this license.” Newmeyer points out that Utah is either in the process of adopting national science standards in whole, or are infringing on copyright. –So, which is it?
Newmeyer goes on: “Though we are just looking at grades 6-8, it is inconceivable that our state would adopt 6-8 (even if slightly modified) and then settle on a totally different standard for other grades, especially when you consider the desire to have a cohesive and progressively building program. So in fact we are not just looking at grades 6-8. We are laying a precedent for the adoption of NGSS for all grades with additional material not even considered.”
Why must we as parents, teachers and scientists, oppose it?
1. Control. Our state loses local control of teaching students what we accept as scientifically important and true, when we adopt NGSS standards rather than using standards we have researched and studied and compiled on our own. We further lose control when we then test students using these national science standards that are aligned to the philosophies (and data mining structures) of the federal agenda.
2. Content. Vincent Newmeyer explains that some of the standards are based on recognized fallacies, and others on controversial assumptions. Failing to properly research and vet these standards publically is unethical and unscientific.
For example, Newmeyer asks us to look at “the newly renumbered but present all along standard number 7.2.2 : “Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.” This leads students to favor the Darwinian Evolutionary view –which has solid counterpoints arguing precisely the opposite view. Newmeyer explains that although it is true that we can find similarities in embryos, still “if studied in detail we find differences that completely undermine the whole premise of why they inserted this performance expectation. In the standard they are not looking at the differences.”
Even those who actively defend the Darwinian view of common ancestry who have looked at the data see the weakness of the argument, says Newmeyer. He questions why we want to teach it in Utah as if it were settled science. There are also standards that promote the controversial global warming paradigm, and there are other content problems in the NGSS standards.
Utah’s already using the standardized test developed by American Institutes for Research (SAGE) which includes science, English and math standards aligned to the nationally pushed agenda. So the USOE is not going to want to go in another direction. But it must. If enough parents, teachers and scientists pelter the Utah State School Board and Utah State Office of Education and legislature with firm “NO to NGSS” emails, phone calls and personal visits, they can’t get away with this like they did with Common Core.
A few months ago, a concerned Utah State School Board member contacted every single one of the science teachers who were in her constituency district, asking them how they felt about NGSS. She reported that every single one of them said that they wanted to keep Utah’s current science standards and they rejected NGSS. Every last teacher.
South Carolina rejected the national science standards. So did Wyoming. Kansas is fighting a law suit about it. Are we going to do nothing in Utah to defend scientific objectivity and neutrality, not to mention defending the power and right to local control?
There will be a 90-day comment period. You can also attend and speak up (2 min max) at the state school board meetings if you request time in advance. Please participate.
Also, please share your passion with your legislators. Find your representatives here or click here for the state school board’s email address and all of the Utah senators and representatives.
You can’t blame people– even Congressmen themselves– for not wanting to get involved in the current rewrite of ESEA/NCLB. The hundreds of pages of bill language and amendments are intimidating –and boring.
But boring and intimidating or not, if we believe in “consent by the governed” then, as the governed, we must pay attention. If we ignore what D.C. –mostly without constituent knowledge or input –are rewriting for the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)– we may regret it.
ESEA/NCLB is such a mangled mess. HR5, this year’s earlier rewrite of NCLB/ESEA, was remarkably stopped in its tracks. But now I’m worried that the new rewrite may not be better. Here’s why.
1.) The U.S. Constitution never gives any authority to the federal government to boss states around in educational matters. Congress does not seem to remember this at all.
The premise of creating or altering a federal education law, in a country governed by the Constitution, is a hopelessly flawed premise. Each state is supposed to be each doing its own separate –not standardized, nor nationalized– education dance. Freedom thrives on distinction and variety and on spreading out the decision making power– not on top-down, heavy handed, one-law-fits-all sameness. So felt the Constitution writers.
Now, the distraction of a debate over NCLB/ESEA manipulates today’s debaters into forgetting that there shouldn’t even be a NCLB/ESEA.
For example, when my toddler doesn’t want to go to bed, I enforce my mandate by distracting his focus: I ask him for input on my mandate: “Do you want to read three stories or four?” “Should we read our bedtime stories in your room or my room?” “Which pajamas do you like the best?” Our family constitution says that parents know best. —Not so in the case of ESEA/NCLB. States are not toddlers and the federal government is not a nanny or a parent –unless we are states united under federal dictatorship rather than a constitutional republic of United States.
Should we actually stoop to discuss their questions such as this one? “Should Title I dollars follow low-income children to schools of their choice, or should they go to poor schools?” The taking and redistributing of state taxpayers’ money to education in the first place is unconstitutional, to me. Discussion about it seems wrong-headed since it’s falsely appropriated money. It’s unconstitutionally appropriated money. It’s “legalized” plunder by the government, at the people.
If you happen to approve of that– if there’s a socialist within you that can go along with it– know this: Obama’s blueprint for education reform shows his intent in a 2011 press release: “Under President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA], the Title I comparability provision would be revised to ensure that state and local funding levels are distributed equitably between Title I and non-Title I schools.” (Obama doesn’t seem to be the “charitable socialist” helping the poor but a noncharitable socialist bent on forcing the states to force equality, instead.) Please comment below if you see this differently.
Failure to remember and honor the rights and rules of the Constitution is one very serious problem. The second reason for the manged mess is also very sobering– it’s dishonesty (by some) and failure to detect and call out that dishonesty (by others).
2.) Dishonesty and deliberate lengthiness makes bill discussion difficult.
During this year’s first rewrite and push of NCLB/ESEA, called HR5, which failed recently, we saw honest-to-goodness grassroots conservatives, arms linked with grassroots liberals, saying NO to Congress’ HR5 and crying out: “The talking points aren’t true.”
Speaker Boehner’s HR5 talking points, “Ten Things You Should Know About the Student Success Act” made a great sounding sales pitch to the voters of Congress, but when grassroots researchers then pointed out to their reps that that Boehner’s points were false, the reps stopped HR5. Score!
Sadly, it seems that legislators really don’t make time for reading bills. True, bills and their amendments are as long as Dostoevsky novels minus the interesting dramas, yet legislators pass them (or not) only depending on other legislators or on lists of bill-talking-points to decide how they’ll vote. A misleading or outright dishonest set of talking points can get a bill passed. This madness must stop. It’s like taking a pill when even the pharmacists and doctors haven’t read the ingredient list.
Congressmen should be defending us with deep research –and with the knowledge that standing on the Constitution, they have power.
Congress should be standing up to the Executive Branch and standing up against the endless unconstitutional federal agencies.
I want NCLB/ESEA to be repealed entirely. But if it’s not repealed, then I want a SERIOUS rewrite.
I want to see and hear my Utah representatives, Mike Lee, Mia Love, Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, standing in ESEA discussion meetings in D.C. saying:
- “We just remembered that our nation’s supreme law for education is the U.S. Constitution and we’re sticking with that. So taxes for education will be staying inside the state. Utah won’t be complying with rules about, nor asking for, Title I monies –because our state taxpayers will be keeping the taxes locally, not sending them to D.C. and we’ll be deciding locally where our own tax dollars go.”
I want to hear them saying:
- “If we allow the writing of any federal education law at all, it will be only to reinforce Constitutional rights, to reclaim individual rights and to stop big government encroachment. “
I want to hear them saying:
- “Individual privacy matters. So we won’t allow the collective State Longitudinal Database System (created by all fifty states’ individuals SLDS’s) to be used by corporations partnered with the government, nor by the federal government itself in its Edfacts Data Exchange. We won’t allow national Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) nor SLDS systems to bind student privacy rights. We won’t use a national Common Core of standards nor data mining tags.”
I want to hear them saying:
- “Teachers are professionals. Government should keep its snoopy unwanted nose out of the business of professionals who are accountable to the parents and principals whom they serve, and to the local taxpayers who support them– not to Big Government.”
I want to hear them saying:
- “Under no condition will private schools, their standards or their data ever, ever be “accountable” to anyone other than the parents who pay for them and the teachers who work there. Period, end of story.”
I want to hear them saying:
- “Regional Educational Laboratories and Centers for School Turnaround, as branches of the federal network of an unconstitutional management of education, will no longer be funded by American tax dollars nor supported by federal government policy.”
I want to hear them saying:
- “Children and their parents are the most important core of society. They are not “human capital” to be inventoried, surveyed, tested, guided, used and controlled by a government nor its corporate partners. Every family has the right to opt out of government’s databases.”
Please contact your local and D.C. representatives. Tell them what you want in the ESEA/NCLB rewrite. Make your influence strong. Because we frankly outnumber them.
Florida’s Senators Tom Lee and Alan Hayes
This week in Florida, senators are speaking up against the Common Core testing and “accountability” systems.
In the video below, Florida’s Senator Lee’s states:
“I’m done with the testing program in the state of Florida; I’m done with the “accountability” system. Whoever those people are out there from whatever foundation they may be from, whatever testing groups they may be supporting: I’m over you. You’ve lost my confidence… You’re so married to this system, you don’t have a shred of common sense left…. As this has progressed, it has become a behemoth… We are now complicit in this problem… I hear the people supporting this system telling me that it’s so important to them that we maintain the bureaucracy that we hold this system up as so sacrosanct and so inflexible…
I just want to send a message… go find somebody else to talk to ’cause I’m done with you.
And I hope the folks over at the Dept. of Education understand that it takes a good long while to get me fed up, but I’m there. “
Senator Alan Hayes also stood up and spoke against the ed reform machine that’s hurting children. Senator Hayes’ admission here is that he realizes that he has been part of the problem, and now he regrets the mess that’s been made. He said that the intentions of ed reforms were honorable but the results are not good.
These short videos should be widely shared.
Tonight, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert will take questions on KBYU TV. The public may submit questions via Twitter, Facebook, phone or email. firstname.lastname@example.org is the email address. Click here for additional ways to submit questions.
Feel free to use my questions in your own words if you like.
1. Will you veto SB 235 the school turnaround bill now that you’ve received so much input, including official open letters asking you to do so from the unanimous boards of some Utah school districts, from the UEA and from Utahns Against Common Core? Why or why not?
2. We know that your initiative, Prosperity 2020 is aimed at improving the economy of Utah. Can you explain how it differs from China’s economic centralization of schools linked with the economy?
3. Why are you supporting the ban on citizens being allowed to burn wood in the their homes?
4. What influence do Utah citizens have in the National Governor’s Association; in other words, how does the Governor’s membership in NGA benefit Utah citizens’ constitutional rights to local autonomy?
5. Last year, you led a study of the new national standards used in Utah known as Common Core; critics said your study failed to address the governance and local control of the standards. Would you be willing to revisit this issue in more depth? Why or why not?
6. What is Utah’s State Longitudinal Database System, and how does it benefit individuals and families?
7. Some parents are calling for an opt out for the State Longitudinal Database System. Would you support giving parents this liberty? Why or why not?
8. Would you consider following the example of many other states in eliminating the income tax? Why or why not?
A few days ago, fifth grader Aaron Bencomo spoke to the Arizona Senate, explaining in his own words, using his own experience to express how bad the Common Core is. He quoted the Declaration of Independence. He talked about the pursuit of happiness. He described the “one size does not fit all,” boring, wasteful reviews of last year’s math in this year’s math. He talked about not every child being the same, but being treated as if they were the same, under Common Core. His speech was a beautiful example of how even a little child can be an agent for freedom and truth. Watch from minute 1:20 to 4:05.
Children do have great power.
Aaron is not the first child to speak out powerfully against the Common Core agenda’s destruction of individual freedoms. Teenager Patrick Richardson of Arkansas spoke out. Ethan Young of Tennessee spoke out. Sydney Lane of Connecticut spoke out. Please watch and share these videos if you haven’t already!
Freedom of speech is, of course, closely tied to freedom of religion; both are versions of free exercise of conscience and of free thought.
Inspired by Dallin Oaks’ article in this month’s Ensign Magazine, I reminded my children this week that they are not government employees living under rules that constrain religious speech in a school setting. In other words, children may say, write, report, and share their faith in God freely, including in a public school if they want to.
Elder Dallin Oaks reminded us that freedom of religion is not limited to the inside of a church. He wrote: “…oppose government officials and public policy advocates who suggest that the free exercise of religion is limited to “freedom of worship.” In the United States, for example, the guarantee of “free exercise” protects the right to come out of our private settings, including churches, synagogues, and mosques, to act upon our beliefs, subject only to the legitimate government powers necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Free exercise surely protects religious citizens in acting upon their beliefs in public policy debates...“
I also reminded my children of a well-loved story in the Book of Mormon about the “Army of Helaman.” In the story, adults with histories of evil had made promises not to take up their swords to kill again, but their innocent children were under no such obligation; when attacked by an enemy, the boys took up their swords and defended their own lives and the lives of their families. God preserved those young men, and helped their families, through them. (See Alma 56-58)
I tell my children never to assume they are under the same obligation as their public school teachers are. Children can speak positively about their religion. Children have great freedom of speech. If they feel they want to, they should speak and write about their beliefs, including belief in Constitutional liberty, and belief in God, wherever they are.
Hats off to those who are doing so.