BYU Professor Wiley   1 comment

Dear Professor Wiley,

I read your article in the Deseret News, extolling Common Core.

http://www.deseretnews.com/user/comments/765571454/Utah-should-adopt-the-Common-Core.html

I must respond.

I’m a BYU alum, too.  B.A. in English, M.A. in Communications.  I’m also a teacher (Cal State San Bernardino K-12 credential) and have been an adjunct professor (UVU, English).

A few questions on Common Core:

1.  Do you know that all over Utah, school boards are deleting parental consent laws to accomodate federal easy access to student data because of Common Core’s goals?

This week, our local Wasatch school board deleted parental consent laws in favor of federal access to student academic and personal data without encouraging or allowing, any parent to voice a comment about it. (The Wasatch school board’s ruling is attached).  They bypassed protective FERPA laws to accomodate Common Core and its testing requirements.

On pg. 288 of the RTTT grant application, Utah agreed to “address” any state laws and “remove barriers” that might stand in the way of Common Core’s goals.

2.  Do you know that the longitudinal databases about kids that our Common Core Initiative requires make us a lot like countries without freedom?  You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary .  When federal governments know everything about everyone, from diapers to grave, they tend to abuse that power.  It’s historic.  Look at China, mandating abortions because the feds know best about overpopulation.  Look at Germany, sending intellectuals to concentration camps because their feds knew better than the intellectuals how to value Jews. While there is no guarantee the U.S. feds would abuse similar power, there’s also no guarantee they would not. We have given away those guarantees because we have been blinded by the pretty promises of Common Core.

3.  Do you realize that our U.S. states have built massive, longitudinal database systems, according to federally dictated standards, to qualify for ARRA stimulus money?  The feds incentivized it, and now, all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students. Utah was praised for having a database that met all ten essential components for the database, outlined by the federal government.

The information to be gathered by the U.S.O.E. and passed on to the executive branch is more than academic test scores. 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, bus stop times and more. This is not just student information, but information on families, too.

4.  Have you read how Common Core and its FERPA-deleting mandates, also delete state authority over education and parental authority over children’s data?

When Utah signed up for Common Core, part of the application, mandated (page 288 of RTTT application) that Utah must “identify and implement a plan to address barriers in State law, statute, regulation, or policy to implementing the proposed assessment system and to addressing any such barriers prior to full implementation of the summative assessment components of the system.”   As long as Utah’s bound to Common Core, we’re going to change state laws that stand in the way of the federal data collection goal.  FERPA laws are sacred laws.  They protect families.  They protect children.  Common Core does not respect FERPA, families, or children’s rights to privacy and freedom from federal control.

I do not want my child’s private or academic information to be accessible by the federal government for any reason.  Schools need to know academic information about children, but they have no business giving out that information to the federal government, especially without parental consent.

The Utah FERPA laws protected family and student privacy, but the newly rewritten federal FERPA laws do not.  They take privacy away.  Our local school board unfortunately believes federal laws have more clout than state FERPA laws do, based on their statements that “We can’t not pass this law,” at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law, educational decisions are in the hands of states, not the federal government. But for now, until our school board reinstates the constitutional sovereignty of Utah over federal FERPA law, and parental sovereignty over the privacy of children’s data, my kids will not be taking state-collected, federally accessible standardized tests.

5.  Have you read the “Cooperative Agreement Between the U.S. Dept. of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium” for yourself?  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

The U.S.O.E.’s lead lawyer, Carol Lear, had not even read it until I provided the PDF for her.  Nobody is watching Utah’s back, constitutionally, on the Common Core’s intrusions on freedom.

That document triangulates data “across consortia” under the supervision of the U.S. Dept of Education, which mandates telephone conferences, status updates, synchronized testing, and centralization of data for federal perusal.

6.  Have you realized that Utah’s current Core will be irrelevant by 2015?  I wrote to WestEd myself, asking for an explanation as to how the test developer would address differences in states’ own standards.  They wrote back to say that it’s not helpful to have two sets of standards.  The federal set, CCSS, would do.  (Letter in WestEd attachment.)  What teacher, motivated by merit pay and high student scores, will teach to any other set of standards.

7.  Do you realize that while the Utah Core can be amended by the state school board’s majority vote, the CCSS standards have no provision for amendment by Utah?  We have no voice.  The federal standards can change, sending any wicked teaching down the pike, and we have to teach it and be tested on it.  This is as true as I’m sitting here typing to you.

8.  Did you know that there’s was no legislative discussion, no cost analysis, no legal analysis, and not even any educational analysis of Common Core before Utah joined in 2009?  The standards were released in 2010.  We are stuck with so much expense, so much that’s mandated, and so many freedoms stolen away, because we married before we dated Common Core.  In the words of Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina, “we sold our educational birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”

9.  Did you know that Common Core is in the public domain?  So any good that anyone likes from Common Core, we can keep and use, under our own sovereign Utah educational rights.  No teacher needs to cry when we cut ties to the CC Initiative.

10.  Did you know that a famous, retired Utah Judge has reviewed the legally binding documents of Utah’s arrangement with Common Core, and has stated that Utah is not free under Common Core?  Are any educational benefits meaningful without political freedom?

I would truly appreciate a response to these questions.  Thank you.

Christel Swasey

Posted April 26, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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