ESEA, a huge bill about data and federal roles in local education, is being rammed through in the dark. The vote is in a week and there’s no access to the final bill yet. Senator Lee is right. This process is wrong.
Don’t let a handful of people decide for the entire elected Congress and the entire population of the US what education, testing, standards, and data privacy should be, without debate, and without reading the bill. The political careers of those who are ramming through this anti-freedom legislation in the dark without debate are going to be over once America wakes up and figures out what they have done to us.
I sat down and wrote out what I wanted to say this blog-video. It’s posted here, for those who don’t want to sit through twenty minutes of talking. Sorry that I had to read much of it rather than making eye contact all of the time. I just needed to get it said right.)
Happy Thanksgiving Week!
My name is Christel Swasey, and I am a teacher and a mother living in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Today is November 24, 2015. In less than one week a handful of secretive congressmen are expecting to pass a bill called ESEA, or the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, without our informed consent or the informed consent of our elected representatives.
The final bill has not even been released yet but the vote is in a week. It won’t be read by turkey-gobbling Congressmen when it is released in a few days. But they’ll be forced to vote on Tuesday, uninformed or misinformed because all they’ll read is a sheet of talking points put out by the bill’s lobbyists. This will have a disasterous, long term effect on liberty in America.
I am asking you to help #STOPESEA by calling Congress at 202-224-3121. Tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA based on what’s slated to be in it, and maybe more importantly, based on the corrupt, un-American process of passing it without giving time to read and debate about it.
I’m a big fan of a phrase in the Declaration of Independence: THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED”.
The Declaration explains that to secure our God-given rights, we the people instituted government: “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
So government has no just powers outside of consent by the governed, and so my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and yours, are not secure when government is operating outside the informed consent of the governed. I am telling you that it is happening right now.
My own Senator, Mike Lee, has been an inspiration this week as he’s spoken out about this corrupt process and explained how it’s operating. He said that how the conference process is supposed to work is not how is has been conducted. Quote: “from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to, but beneath the surface, we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few members of Congress working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny. And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult if not impossible for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.” Senator Lee said, “Because process influences policy… the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work—policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.” Then Senator Lee named a few of those bad policies, such as “the discredited common core approach” and the centrally planned, failed model of federal preschool which the bill will use $250 million to promote. There are many more terrible policies that ESEA will cement. I will list more later on in this video.
My own representative, Jason Chaffetz, has also been in the Congressional spotlight this week, shedding light on what the federal government, via the Dept. of Education, is doing to American privacy. I watched him in a video leading a congressional hearing on the improper practices of the Dept of Education in its student data collection and data mining programs. The hearing revealed that the federal Dept of Education has somewhere between one and two hundred ways that it collects data about your child and mine, but the Department only admits to having three because it contracts out the rest of the systems. As if that’s better. The hearing revealed that the Dept of Education received negative scores across every category of data security, and Rep Chaffetz gave the Dept. an “F”—calling it “a monster, an absolute monster”.
This is the same federal Dept of Education that is pushing, through the current ESEA bill, additional methods of mining student data.
But the things that Sen. Lee and Rep. Chaffetz oppose are not the only things that the ESEA bill will foist on us. I predict that the final version of the ESEA bill will contain many more grants to promote more “voluntary” data mining in addition to the compulsory data collection that’s already taking place; more federal preschools, more psychological profiling of teachers, students and families inside and outside of public schools under the banner of the kindly nanny state’s data-driven decision making, more career tracking, more longitudinal citizen stalking via college student and graduate reporting, more assessments or more deeply embedded forms of stealth assessments, and a subtle undermining of parental authority, teacher creativity and student autonomy from the community-centric, workforce-focused, data-focused initiatives in this bill. (We’ll see this week, won’t we?)
A group of over two hundred grassroots organizations representing most of the states in the United States signed an open letter to Congress opposing this ESEA bill. The letter outlines four things that are strong reasons to oppose ESEA. I’m summarizing. The first is–
- COMMON CORE – the letter calls common core “academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically manipulative and privately copyrighted Common Core Standards…” End quote. Now, in my opinion, the talking points that will be used to promote the bill will likely say that it’s common-core free, or at least, the bill will avoid using the phrases “common core” or “common data standards”. The bill will rely very deceptively on the fact that most people don’t know that there is an official federal definition of common core. That other phrase that the bill WILL include, repeatedly, is: “career and college ready standards” or “career and college readiness”. Do an internet search for the federal definition of “college and career ready”. You’ll find that the phrase is officially defined by the federal Dept. of Education as “standards common to a significant number of states” which can only be the common core.
The second reason that the grassroots letter asks Congress to oppose ESEA is its push for:
- ASSESSMENTS THAT PROFILE CITIZENS – the letter calls an over-reliance on tests never independently validated, high-stakes standardized tests supervised by the federal government , tests that are psychologically profiling our children more than assessing their academic knowledge…a problem. The third reason to oppose ESEA is:
- SLDS – State Longitudinal Database Systems (stalking of kids by the government) and the massive increase in state and federal gathering of private family, education and psychological data … without consent. The fourth reason:
- CAREER TRACKING – Career tracking, which undermines self-determination by means of unconstitutional profiling…”
Some people don’t understand why it’s a bad thing for the government to centrally manage and guide (or control) citizens into different career tracks; some think that’s helpful for the individual and good for the collective economy.
But I think of a quote from my favorite Disney movie, “Prince of Egypt” where Moses says, “No kingdom should be made on the backs of slaves”.
Since student self-determination is undermined by the dictates of the government’s workforce needs, even if it is data-driven dictatorship, and since a student’s interests won’t be judged as equally important to a student’s capabilities when the collective workforce or the government is the main determiner of what that student’s career path should be, we are creating a system for our children where they are not free. Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that education reforms are aiming to build a global kingdom on the backs of children without their consent; but I think, in the long run, maybe not.
The four points outlined by the grassroots organizations’ letter, in my opinion boil, down to this:
Either you believe that parents are the God-given authority over a child, or you believe that children’s lives should be managed by the government and its “data driven decision making,” for the building up of the government’s economy– in the style of countries without freedom, like China.
Either you support the continued tracking and nonconsensual stalking of your child and family, using local schools as the data collection pawns in a federal system that tracks children and families for life, –or you believe in freedom, self-determination and privacy.
Either you believe that individuals should control their own lives despite the risks that freedom allows, or you believe that the government should control the lives of the people, because of the risks that freedom allows. If you are getting sucked into believing the latter, please remember this: we the people created government. We own it; it did not create us and it does not own us. It cannot boss us without our consent. Anytime government does a thing without the full, informed consent of the governed, it is unjust and it is dangerous.
But government can and does get away with bossing and bullying –when we let go of our own power. I am asking you to use your power to call and stop ESEA this week.
Because Congress isn’t being given time to read or debate the bill prior to a vote, the bill’s promoters will pass out a sheet of biased talking points for the rest of Congress to read before they vote (this is how they got the Student Success Act passed) –and these talking points will sound so good. But they will be full of lies.
I know this because I saw the last set of talking points when they passed the house and senate versions of this monster bill. They had things that successfully deceived almost all of our elected conservatives, such as: “this bill will reduce the federal footprint” and “this bill restores power to the states and localities”—these things weren’t true.
Rather than restoring power to the localities, the bill assigned enforcement of federal priorities to the localities. Think about that: there’s a big difference between assigning federal priority enforcement and implementation to states, and actually restoring freedom to states. The new bill will likely use many phrases conservatives love while it also intrudes on basic rights and institutions, for example, on private schools and home schools by offering them attractive grants or services –in exchange for student, teacher and family data. It’s all about data—it’s all about reducing citizen privacy, because information is power.
And the bill won’t be written in clear language that is accessible to the average person. You will have to really study it and find out what its words and phrases mean in definitions outside the bill itself, to understand what is being traded.
The bill and its talking points will likely use language to appeal to the compassionate person, but it will force the federal concept — a parent-replacing definition– of government compassion. It will promote parent-neutralizing, nanny-state enabling concepts and programs, including increased data mining –to identify (quote) ”academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health and other needs of students, families, and community residents.” The last bill promoted “Full Service Community Schools” and “student needs” and “wraparound services” and extended learning time that make school, not family or church, the central hub of a child’s life.
202-224-3121. Memorize that number or put it in your speed dial. Ask Congress to vote NO on ESEA.
It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the partnership of federal and corporate forces take away our authority by changing who gets to define and enforce what learning means and what will be learned –taking this authority from the parent and teacher; and reassigning it to the government;
It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government narrows academic freedom by dicating a communistic, workforce-centered vision of what academic success is for;
It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements into federal law the common core standards.
It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements processes built on student-stalking common data standards and interoperable state databases that report to the federal edfacts data exchange, tracking children’s academic and psychological data, without consent;
It is wrong for you and I to allow any kind of assessments to be mandated upon us by federal forces, whether in the form of formal, standardized tests or stealthy, embedded tests that are quietly woven into the daily curriculum and assignments of students. These tests lock us into a federal definition of what academic excellence looks like and will narrow academic creativity in classrooms that are built on one standard and one set of data tags and tests. They certainly make things more efficient, but at the expense of a teacher’s professional judgment and her curricular liberty.
It is wrong for you and I to sit by while a few members of Congress ram a bill through, mostly in the dark, without allowing any space for analysis or debate. It is truly a dark and un-American process.
Fight for freedom with your telephone.
These freedoms, once lost, won’t come back easily: the freedom to define with our own conscience and intellect what education should look like; the freedom from invasion of privacy; the freedom from being centrally managed and tracked without consent. These are not small things.
I’m asking you to call 202-224-3121 and tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA.
Update: Additional #STOPESEA videos here: