Wasatch School Board Overturns FERPA Parental Consent Law for Common Core Agenda   Leave a comment

Dear Editor:

Does the Wasatch School Board take into account the wishes of parents, teachers and taxpayers?  Few of us would have chosen what they chose for us Thursday night.

 As a taxpayer, mother and teacher, I motion that the local school board re-open the question of FERPA law revision –and leave it similarly open for each Common Core-related request for privacy and funding intrusion that will come– giving the public at least 30 days’ notice to deliberate and to advise the board.


Without so much as a one-minute discussion, the school board voted unanimously to adopt revisions to our protective FERPA laws, that now align Wasatch with the Common Core Initiative’s agenda. The carelessly made decision to change FERPA law deserves new discussion by  parents since it concerns the protection of student and family data from federal control.


“Well, we can’t not pass it,” said one board member. “It’s a federal law,” said another, two seconds before they passed it.  But revising FERPA was not a legal federal request.  Ironically, federal laws prohibit the federal government from making invasive requests to tighten control over educational testing by altering privacy laws.


Thomas Jefferson would not have been happy with that meeting.  He used to say that states themselves must defend “barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the General Government.”  But Wasatch caved to the improper request to change state law like butter under a hot knife.


The Common Core Initiative does suggest that states and districts alter laws and ignore Constitutional separations of powers that grant states the sole right to direct any and all aspects of education.  But we don’t have to cave to flawed requests.


The Common Core wants local laws to match its goals, not only to nationalize education, but to dramatically increase data collection and centralization. FERPA laws stand in its data-hungry way. So the board just “revised” FERPA.  If it’s anything like what Davis County recently revised, it waives the need for parental consent to access student data.


The board must be aware that federal control over state educational decisions carries zero authority; federal or consortia requests to alter Utah law are not permissable. 

–Unless, of course, a local school board deliberately hands over the keys to the feds like they did this week. 


FERPA laws are protective for student and family privacy rights, but since they do not match the goals of the Common Core Initiative, districts are asked to rewrite the protective laws.  Davis did it.  Now Wasatch has done it.  Yet under the Constitution and G.E.P.A. law, neither the federal arm (nor a federally-promoted consortium of states) is permitted to direct or control any aspect of state education –except as we drunkenly hand control away.


It is unthinkable that this board would not know that. It appeared that the School Board shrugged off the FERPA revision,  as if unaware that no outside force can mandate that locals change their laws.


The Common Core Initiative itself, which requested this invasion of privacy, repeatedly has claimed to be “state-led” and “not a federal initiative” in order to avoid the appearance of breaking laws that forbid the federal arm from imposing ideas about how families, districts and states should educate kids.


We can not blame our own weak willingness to give away local control, on the feds’ or anyone else’s unauthorized requests to have that control.


It is our fault, locally, that control is being lost.  It’s not just the Governor’s fault, or Superintendent Shumway’s, or the USOE’s.  It is ours.  It is our school board’s.  We are not defending ourselves.


One board member recently told me I was misinformed and insisted that “Under Common Core, we have local control.” Tonight, she ironically gave away even more local control, right in front of my eyes, at a request from those who had no authority to ask for it. Why?



Christel Swasey


Posted April 20, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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