So Who Cares If The Feds Have My Kids’ Data? FERPA – Part II   Leave a comment

For those who are still asking, “Who cares if the federal government has access to my kids’ data without my parental consent?”

–please view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary  to see what kinds of data they will be collecting– it is unbelievable.

See the rules of the game:  read the “assurances” here:

and read with awe of all the intense federal controls http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf  over the testing and data collection, coordinating “across consortia” and synchronizing efforts nationally, all mandated by one man, without authority under the Constitution: Secretary Arne Duncan.

The Department of Education had no right to make changes that only Congress was constitutionally permitted to make.  Yet the Dept. of Education implemented changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and overrode the privacy protections Congress had included in FERPA, the Competes Act, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The changes allow access to any of the information in the databases.

While we have no reason to suspiciously assume that the federal government would abuse the power of knowing practically everything about practically everyone, we also have no guarantees that they would not abuse that power.

I’m thinking about China, where tiny kids who happen to be good at a sport get taken away from their families in order to train for the Olympics.  I’m thinking about countries in which it is mandated that women have abortions to align with federal agendas of low population growth.   Could bad grades, bad health, or behavioral problems documented in elementary school keep someone from getting a scholarship or a job many years later?

I’m wondering how these foreign federal agencies would ever have been able to enforce such things if they didn’t know so much about everybody from diapers to grave.  Knowledge is power and privacy is a sacred freedom.

I take very seriously the fact that our local school board deleted parental consent authority over kids’ data this week.  I wrote a letter to my son’s wonderful teacher and principal today, explaining why I will not allow him to take this year’s standardized test, even though it’s not the Common Core SBAC test.  (It’s state-collected and will be federally accessible now.)

April 25, 2012

Dear Ms. Marshall and Mr. Brown,

Thank you for all you do.  You are wonderful teacher/principals, and my son adores you both.

I am writing to let you know that during the testing times of April 30 and May 3, 7, & 9, I will be checking my son out of class.  Please let me know the exact times of the tests so I know what time I should come.  I will return him as soon as the testing is over.

I have never allowed my children skip testing before.  But this week, our local 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).

I’ve recently become aware of the longitudinal databases about kids that our Common Core Initiative requires. States built database systems, according to federally dictated standards, to qualify for ARRA stimulus money. 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.

You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary .  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.

The only choice I can make right now to ensure my child’s privacy from what I now see as federal illegality, is to opt out of standardized tests for my kids.

I do not want my son’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, Axel will not be taking state-collected, federally accessible standardized tests.

I hope you understand.  Thank you sincerely for all you do for my son.

Christel Swasey

 

Posted April 26, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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