Archive for the ‘Data Privacy is a Right Schools Must Not Violate’ Category
Governor Herbert surprised a lot of people this week, including me.
After spending the past six years promoting, marketing, and providing workforce alignment strategies to serve Common Core, and after rising to the throne of Common Core’s organization, National Governors Association, to become its chair, and after going out of his way to have the Utah Attorney General provide “proof” that Common Core supposedly represented local control– after all of this, Herbert has now turned his back on the Common Core and has written a letter to the State School Board, asking it to move away from Common Core.
The media in Utah say that they are “puzzled” and confused. Not me. I’m doing the happy dance!
Regardless of the Governor’s motives in this election year, regardless of the possibility that Utah might just endure a wasteful rebranding effort that could redeliver Common Core under a new name (as many other states, have done and done and done) –I still see this letter from Governor Herbert as a home run for the freedom team.
Read it. The letter admits that Common Core is not an example of local control, that it is the federal will, and that it damages local control –of testing, data collection, curriculum and instruction.
The letter asks the board to keep these principles in mind while it moves away from Common Core: 1) maintain high academic standards; 2) keep the federal government out of educational decisions in Utah; and 3) preserve local control of curriculum, testing, data collection and instruction.
It also says, “Just as important as the actual educational standards is the process by which we arrive at those standards. This should be a Utah process with public comment and discourse.” It continues, “…[W]e all understand the shortcomings of a one-size-fits-all approach. It is imperative that any new standards are flexible enough to allow a wide variety of curricular decisions by individual school districts …I believe that our teachers need more freedom to be creative in the classroom.”
Well, those words are a surprise, and a miracle, to me.
Some people are suspicious because the governor’s in the middle of his re-election campaign, while his challenger, has been extremely successful with voting delegates because of his staunchly anti-Common Core stand. I was there when the governor got booed by a crowd over well over 1,000 delegates at the Utah County GOP Convention last month, when he spoke about Common Core; I know he is under campaign pressure, but he didn’t have to do this! He knew it would make him look like a fair-weather politician. He knew that most of those who are already voting for the more-conservative Johnson won’t change their minds and that those who already support Herbert won’t likely change their minds. So why did he really do it?
Maybe a key to why the governor wrote this letter is in its closing paragraph. His own children and grandchildren do not like the Common Core. The letter says, “I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I have seen firsthand the frustration they and their parents have had…”
What grandfather can stand up to his own grandchildren’s lobbying efforts against the Common Core? So he caved, in a good way. He’s publically admitted that Common Core is academically miserable and politically for socialists.
I cannot see this letter as anything but great news.
So what’s next? What will the Utah State School Board do?
I don’t think it can get away with yet another meaningless rebranding job. The now-somewhat-savvy Utah public won’t stand for that, knowing what so recently happened to Utah’s previously-good science standards, or knowing what happened when Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, Tennessee, Indiana, and other states passed Common Core repeal laws that resulted in nothing better, but common core 2.0 (under new names). To the dismay of those who actually wanted freedom and autonomy beyond the federal 15% no-change alignment “suggestion”, better standards didn’t actually mean, better standards. But we have the advantage of other states’ errors to learn from today.
The letter didn’t spell out every problem with education reform. For example, it didn’t say, “Let’s finally permit parents to opt children out of the federal/state data data monitoring system SLDS“.
But I don’t see the federal SLDS (Utah’s federally-provided student data mining system, which came to Utah alongside Common Core) very much longer reading “long life and happiness” in its fortune cookie. Why? Too many Utahns are aware that common data standards and common academic standards were a package deal from day one. Utah legislators recently passed bills that took protective action on student data privacy– taking a stand against the opposition’s national data-mining-and-monitoring movement. The governor will not be able to sidestep SLDS, even if he wants to. SLDS didn’t need to be in the letter because it’s on everyone’s mind.
One of my happiest thoughts, after seeing this letter, has been thinking about the countless Utah teachers and administrators who have previously not felt free to speak their minds about Common Core. The governor’s letter, in many ways (and unintentionally, perhaps) helps to reclaim freedom of speech to Utah educators. While educators opposed to Common Core have mostly remained quiet or anonymous, some of those who have not, have been bypassed, mistreated or branded as “insubordinate” for speaking out– for refusing to pretend to like Common Core –either academically or politically. Some have even been pushed to resign.
But now, if even the reigning governor is saying he’s not happy about the Common Core –academically nor in terms of lost local control– then finally, perhaps, any teacher or principal can pipe up, too.
So, this letter is very good news.
Thanks, Governor Herbert.
Here’s a must-read, new article at Townhall.com (here) by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Why Does Your Congressman Want to Psychologically Profile Your Children?”
The article begins:
“If the GOP-led Congress had not done enough damage to public education by passing the statist Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it’s poised to make things even worse. The new threat is theStrengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA). If SETRA passes in its current form, the federal government will be empowered to expand psychological profiling of our children. Parents must understand this threat so they can mobilize to stop it.”
It also states: “Section 132 of SETRA expands authorized research to include ‘research on social and emotional learning [SEL] . . . .’
“SEL is defined as ‘the process through which children . . . acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.’ SEL is all the rage in public education…”
“…SETRA would authorize the federal government to sponsor research on these social and emotional attributes. This means the government may analyze a child’s psychological makeup…”
Another important point:
“…even if there were real, measurable educational value in analyzing every child’s psyche, do members of Congress really believe government has any business doing this?… SETRA also allows the approved bureaucracy to ‘establish . . . cooperative education statistics systems for the purpose of producing and maintaining . . . data on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, adult education…‘”
The article concludes: “SETRA passed the Senate on a voice vote and now awaits action in the House. House members, take note: A vote for SETRA in its current form is a vote for psychological profiling of innocent children. It’s bad enough that so-called conservatives in Congress voted for ESSA; it will be unforgivable if they vote for SETRA.”
Read the entire article at Townhall.com.
Call US Congress at 202-224-3121 to influence your elected representatives.
Student privacy rights are improving in Utah! Utah HB 358 passed and was funded this legislative session.
This is very happy news for many who have been extremely concerned about the lack of proper privacy protections in our state and country. Although the bill does not provide any opt-out ability for any student from the State Longitudinal Database System, which we’ve been asking for, for four years straight, it it does take important steps in the right direction.
The bill imposes some important restrictions on how information collected by school/government systems about a student can be stored, shared, and used. It also makes the Utah law much more protective than federal FERPA (which, as you know, was deliberately damaged by the USDOE in 2009 so that it is not protective of student privacy as it had been when first written by Congress decades ago.)
In HB 358, line 472, the new law defines who owns the data. The student.
472 (1) (a) A student owns the student’s personally identifiable student data.
(Not the “village”.)
The bill also defines three types of personally identifiable data: necessary, optional, and prohibited.
For example, under “necessary” data, the bill names:
316 (a) name;
317 (b) date of birth;
318 (c) sex;
319 (d) parent contact information;
320 (e) custodial parent information;
321 (f) contact information;
322 (g) a student identification number;
323 (h) local, state, and national assessment results or an exception from taking a local,
324 state, or national assessment;
325 (i) courses taken and completed, credits earned, and other transcript information;
326 (j) course grades and grade point average;
327 (k) grade level and expected graduation date or graduation cohort;
328 (l) degree, diploma, credential attainment, and other school exit information;
329 (m) attendance and mobility;
330 (n) drop-out data;
331 (o) immunization record or an exception from an immunization record;
332 (p) race;
333 (q) ethnicity;
334 (r) tribal affiliation;
335 (s) remediation efforts;
336 (t) an exception from a vision screening required under Section 53A-11-203 or
337 information collected from a vision screening required under Section 53A-11-203;
Under “Prohibited data” which schools and third parties may not collect, the bill name:
806 …administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric
807 examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information… concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
811 (a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of
812 the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
813 (b) mental or psychological problems;
814 (c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
815 (d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
816 (e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close
817 family relationships;
818 (f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
819 (g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with
820 lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers…
Thank you, Representative Anderegg.
Read the rest of the bill here.
With my stomach in knots at two sickening bills that are poised to be slammed through today, I will go (hopefully alongside very many other moms and dads and teachers like me, along with our children) to make the drive, find the impossible parking, and attend the hearings today at 4:00 at the House Building in our State Capitol building.
POWELL – THE SPONSOR OF THE COMMON CORE-
BASED, FORCED YEARLONG TESTING BILL
We’ll hear legislative discussion and, if we’re lucky, will hear strong citizen testimony, on both HB 164 (that’s the “Let’s force SAGE/Common Core yearlong assessment on all kids without parental consent” bill) –now a very slightly altered version of what got voted down a few days ago, which has been unfortunately resurrected by the desperate Representatives Powell/Milner, likely egged on by equally desperate Governor Herbert and his USOE.
See lines 82-85: “providing that scores on the tests and assessments… may [not] be considered in determining:
84 (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course; or
85 (ii) whether a student may advance to the next grade level.”
By taking out “not” they have made it so that kids opting out of common core year-round tests may not pass the class or the grade, if this passes. That breaks many other laws that place parents as primary authority, schools as supporting authority, in a child’s education. How can parents truly have a say if the law says otherwise? Even more importantly, a yes vote on this bill is a yes vote for the common core itself, since it assumes that the tests based on those standards are valid. VOTE NO.
KING – SPONSOR OF HB264, THE ALIGNING UTAH WITH
COMMON SEX STANDARDS BILL
We’ll hear discussion on HB 264, the bill that alters Utah’s current sex education program, which is, or was, reasonably, actually about the medically correct facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that abstinence and fidelity are great tools to avoid trouble — but now, under HB 264, is to be replaced by the “common core” national standards for sex ed, which are code named “comprehensive sexuality education,” all about altering “values, beliefs and attitudes” about sex and gender identity, with no moral judgment of any kind allowed to be taught, and no such thing as deviant or perverted behaviors to be mentioned; such seem not to exist, under the common national sex standards, separately from healthy and moral sexual behavior.
As Wendy Hart, Alpine School Board member, pointed out: “We will be told [HB 264] is about knowledge. Here’s some evidence. CDC ranks Utah 47th for STDs compared to all of the other 50 states. According to the Guttmacher Institute Utah is rated 45th for teen pregnancy and 49th for teen abortions. States such as California and New York that teach comprehensive sex education are ranked in the top 10 states for all these teenage sexual activities. So, should Utah continue with its successful abstinence-based education program resulting in Utah students ranking an average of 47th out of all 50 states for teenage sexual activity or should we change to a failed comprehensive sex education program that has produced teen sexual activity rates in the top 10 of all states?”
With permission, I am posting the open email and letter now, from Dr. Gary Thompson, an African-American doctor of clinical psychology (who is also currently a candidate for District 10 in the battle for State School Board seats).
This letter was sent yesterday to the legislators, who will vote on HB164 today.
To: email@example.com,”V. Lowry Snow” <firstname.lastname@example.org>,LaVar Christensen <email@example.com>,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,Francis Gibson <firstname.lastname@example.org>,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Memo To House/Press Release RE: Objection to HR 164-2
Dear Honorable Members of the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee:
Please find attached, my formal objection to HR 164-2, which if passed, will mandate that all Utah students be subjected to a experimental, non validated test, regardless of parental, medical doctor or psychological doctor objections. I believe that this test is not only a experimentation on Utah’s children’s without informed written consent from parents, it is by its very design, discriminatory against African American, Latino, Gifted, Autistic, and Special Education Students in Utah public schools.
It is my understanding that this Bill will be up for a (re) vote sometime early this week. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, or need volumes of peer reviewed research which backs the contents of my letter.
I have been flooded with email and social media requests to address this issue from my perspective as a doctor of psychology, and father of five divergent learning, African American children.
I appreciate your civic service performed on behalf of the children in the State of Utah. Thank you very much for your attention.
February 21, 2016
Re: Objection to HB 164-2
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Utah State House of Representatives House Education Committee
Dear House Education Committee:
I am writing in regards to HB 164-2 on behalf of my five African-American children, as well as the hundreds of mothers who have graced the halls of the pediatric clinical/education child psychology clinic that I co-founded with my wife. This Bill will require all public school children in the State of Utah to take the SAGE assessment test, eliminate the option of parents to opt their children out of taking the test, and will mandate the usage of SAGE as a primary determinate for advancement in early elementary school grades, as well as graduation from Utah public high schools. The passage of this Bill will have far-reaching negative academic, psychological, ethical, economic, and legal consequences that will haunt our State for generations.
I have devoted my life to the research, study and ethical clinical usage of emotional, cognitive and academic achievement tests to assist parents, schools, and courts with making life-altering decisions for children. During my Doctoral Internship and Residency, I gained a intimate working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the incredible technology and psychometric qualities embedded in the algorithms of the computer adaptive tests that are now the foundational basis of the SAGE test at issue of this Bill.
The psychometric algorithms imbedded inside the SAGE test are remarkable, cutting edge, and unlike anything our generation has seen or experienced in our lifetime. As a local clinical community scientist, I have spent many hours enthusiastically reading peer reviewed studies from my colleagues over the past 8 years in anticipation of utilizing computer adaptive assessment of this nature for children in my community, as well as my own children.
I am a strong advocate for the ethical and prudent usage and inclusion of technology in efforts to assist ground level teachers with serving the academic needs of children in educational settings. The next 4 years will see innovations in this area that will be awe inspiring, as well as ground breaking in nature.
Despite my scientific enthusiasm and support for the inclusion and integration of psychometric tools, such as the SAGE test, in the academic lives of my children, and the children of my neighbors in my community, I beg you both as father, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, to never let this Bill see the light of day. My strong objection is not based on personal politics, and obviously has no basis in a “fear of technology”.
This Bill must not pass for one reason, and one reason only: It is still in its developmental/experimental phase, and has yet to be validated independently for its intended purpose. Without a shadow of a doubt, the corporation that the Utah State Office of Education chose as the vendor for the SAGE test (American Institute of Research), has launched the most expansive, massive, unethical experimentation on public school children ever witnessed in the history of Utah. Clinical psychology is replete with tragic, historical examples of the dire consequences associated with experimentation without the informed, written consent of its human participants. To pass a law which takes away the right of parents of protect their psychologically vulnerable children from the adverse, and well documented effects of high stakes, experimental assessment of any nature, is irresponsible, unethical, and dangerous.
One needs to look no further than the State of Florida to see the chaos, harm and damage associated with the AIR produced Common Core test currently being utilized for purposes of grade advancement, and teacher evaluations. In closing, on behalf of the parents of African American, Latino, Divergent Learning, Special Education, Gifted, Anxious, Depressed, Suicidal, ADHD, Autistic, and emotionally vulnerable children in the State of Utah, I respectfully request that the House not only allow parents to opt out of the SAGE test, but encourage them to withdraw their children when they witness excessive signs of distress associated with experimental, high stakes testing. In addition, I ask that no high stakes, experimental test produced by a corporate vendor, validated or not, ever be given the “respect” of being tied to grade advancement or high school graduation.
Using our kids as experimental laboratory rats, without the informed written consent of parents, to achieve “career and college readiness” is unethical by any professional standard, and is a direct affront to our God given and Constitutionally protected right as parents to protect, raise and nurture our children without invasive governmental interventions. Please vote “NO” on HB 164-2. “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Retired Father of Five Divergent Learning Children
2016 Candidate-Utah State Board of Education-District 10
Early Life – 10757 So. Riverfront Parkway Ste. #275 South Jordan, UT 84095
Tel: 385-900-4020 Email: email@example.com Website: www.earlylifepsych.com
If you can’t be at the capitol at 4:00 today, please text, email, and call the House Ed committee members:
Rep. Brad Last firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Lowry Snow email@example.com 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen firstname.lastname@example.org 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman email@example.com 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler firstname.lastname@example.org 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason email@example.com 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson firstname.lastname@example.org 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson email@example.com
Rep. Eric Hutchings firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David Lifferth email@example.com 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay firstname.lastname@example.org 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel email@example.com 435-616-5603
Thanks for your support of children’s innocence, parental authority, and children’s future liberty.
Buried deep in a 2012 report on “Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics,” the US Department of Education states that one of the key applications of educational data mining is “user profiling” (page 25).
The paragraph says: “These application areas are (1) modeling of user knowledge, user behavior, and user experience; (2) user profiling; (3) modeling of key concepts in a domain and modeling a domain’s knowledge components, (4) and trend analysis.”
Later on, in Exhibit 1, we see a flow chart. It shows “student learning data” flowing into the “predictive model,” the “intervention engine” and then into the “adaptation engine.” Clearly, the goal is government-directed behavior modification following student psychological profiling.
This is sad, because “users” now include even babies, since the Department of Education has successfully pushed ESSA into law, with its “early childhood education” programs that are included in the citizen data mining venture.
The Educational Data Mining report of 2012 is not the only such report from the U.S. Department of Education. Related is its 2013 report, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance” which contained more of the same psychological data gathering goals.
The “Promoting Grit” report included pictures of biometric sensory devices: pressure mouse sensors, posture analysis seats, facial expression cameras, and wireless skin conductance sensors, which would mine student psychological elements, including “grit,” “tenacity,” “perseverance” and more.
In SETRA (the Strengthening Education Through Research Act, currently in the US House of Representatives, having somehow passed the Senate) we find that the federal research programs will be strengthened and enlarged so that more data, including “social and emotional learning” will be gathered for federal use.
Philosophical and constitutional questions need to be hotly debated by the House of Representatives. More importantly, these need discussion at the dinner table, by moms and dads and teachers and principals and school board members:
- Will American children grow up free– as self-governing, free agents, with intellectual and moral privacy and the accompanying power to soar outside any box, as well as the power to fail? How, if even their thoughts and beliefs are monitored and subjected to “intervention”?
- Do Americans want students to be profiled, centrally managed, and nudged in a predetermined, government-and-workforce approved direction –constantly monitored and told what to do? If so, what qualifies central planners to trump individuals’ and families’ desires?
- Does widespread societal faith in “experts” relegate personal privacy and real autonomy to historical artifact? Should personal data be studied and behavior “intervened” by unsupervised central planners? Will this really keep us “safe,” as cogs in a centrally managed, economy-focused collective? Do we want to be a government-branded herd, or free, individual, human beings?
Here come the practical questions for how all this profiling may pan out.
- If we allow government to keep psychological profiles (not just on students– since the P-20 Workforce Pipeline means preschool through workforce citizens get tagged) –then, what happens if a thirty year-old wants to buy a gun, and his background check comes back negatively because when he was in 5th grade, his data was interpreted to mean future depressed individual? And what if his 5th grade data was incorrect?
- What if “at-risk academically” is redefined and applied to a student for attending a private, religious, or home school?
- What if “mentally unstable” is applied to anyone who does not agree with what is being taught in school?
- What if “socially deviant” is applied to anyone who disagrees, or is bored with, collectivist groupthink and group work? –The “what if” list could be endless.
We don’t want to see any “what if”s come to pass. We can put proper protections in place. Legislators, write bills and voters, actively push to get them passed –laws that will deny researchers, school systems and governments access to psychologically profiling, via tests, curricula, and standards without informed, written consent.
The fact that “profiling’s already here” is no excuse. We can begin where we are, and take a stand today. It is true that our students are already being psychologically profiled, to some degree, by the government and schools, already: look at the math standard for Common Core that requires a student to be tagged for presence or absence of “perseverance”. That’s not about math; that’s about psychology and character.
The perseverance tag and others like it will certainly be on the SAGE (Common Core, CEDS aligned) tests; notably in Utah and Florida, which use tests created and scored by the behavioral research company AIR (American Institutes for Research).
For additional evidence of current psychological profiling, look at Utah’s “Student Strengths Inventory,” which gathers nonacademic data on high schoolers.
But none of that is any excuse.
If rain is leaking through a hole in the kitchen, that does not mean we can innocently stand by while someone pokes holes in our living room roof and the bedroom ceiling, and makes plans for the removal of the roof.
The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, said that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. To that I add, if governments and corporations were angels, no privacy protections would be necessary; student data would be consensually collected, analyzed, and used to bless the lives and enlarge the opportunities of every student. But men, governments, and corporations are not angels. That’s why We, the People, need to stop invasive bills like federal SETRA; it’s why we need to write and pass good, protective laws locally.
Take action today.
Write a letter. Make a phone call. Meet with a legislator. Pray with great faith; miracles of knowledge and understanding and miracles within political workings are needed, to awaken an asleep populace and to build up protections for our children’s minds, hearts, and freedoms.