It isn’t every day that one of the original #StopCommonCore moms runs for U.S. Congress.
America, please support this mom; if every one who read this donated even five or ten dollars, that would buy many thousands of signs or mailings for Sheri Few’s important, but financially limited campaign.
The article below is a guest post by Sheri Few.
I want to thank Christel for the opportunity to explain why I am running for Congress and why my election is so important for those of us concerned about education in America today.
All my children attended public schools and I could see firsthand the problems in education, from proposed standards for sexuality education to anti-American and pro-Communist propaganda in geography and history books. I decided to get active and fight for change.
I formed South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE) in 2000 and began a newsletter informing parents and taxpayers about public education instruction problems, from teaching children they evolved from apes to teaching young children to put condoms on bananas, to anti-Christian/anti-American rhetoric.
Like many of you, I’ve been attending Donna Hearne’s Educational Policy Conference in St. Louis for many years, where I’ve learned so much more about the intentional agenda in public schools to transform our country’s government through the minds of our children – hearing all along about Common Core forerunners: Goals 2000, Outcome-based Education, School-to-Work, and No Child Left Behind.
Around the same time, I became politically active; joined my local Republican Party and was soon the Chairman and member of the State GOP Executive Committee. This provided a platform for the changes I saw necessary in public education. The work of SCPIE writing newsletters turned to educating lawmakers and advocating for and against education policy. I also became active in the Tea Party movement.
Although I knew what was being taught, I mistakenly left my children in public schools, thinking I would no longer have a voice if I withdrew them to homeschool. Now, to my chagrin, my oldest son has rejected his Christian faith because of what he learned in public schools. He also believes the climate change hoax and has adopted many other liberal philosophies. I now never recommend that anyone put their children in public schools.
Six years ago, Jane Robbins from the American Principles Project approached me to help expose the Common Core Standards in South Carolina.
I created a PowerPoint and began traveling my state, making presentations to audiences in nearly every county about the problems with Common Core and the data-mining tests.
Three years of work resulted in the bi-partisan, unanimous passage of a legislation rescinding our agreement with the Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium and a requirement for the State Department of Education to rewrite the English and Math standards.
In 2014, I ran in the Republican Primary for State Superintendent of Education in a field of nine candidates. narrowly missing the runoff by less than 2 points (in South Carolina, if one candidate does not receive 50 percent plus one, the top two vote-getters enter a runoff election).
The new Superintendent was charged with rewriting the English and Math standards, but to no one’s surprise, my state ended up with Common Core rebranded as South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards.
Even our state’s Education Oversight Committee did a comparison and found the standards to be 91 percent aligned to Common Core and they would have been more like 98 percent aligned if there hadn’t been a separate law passed the year prior mandating the return to memorization of Math facts and cursive writing.
SCPIE expanded in 2015 into a national organization adding a Leadership Team of colleagues from around the country who led the fight against Common Core in their state.
We had conference calls twice a month, and as we shared our very similar experiences with Common Core, we agreed that the problems originated with and are perpetuated by the federal government, so we set our goal to end the U.S. Department of Education and all federal education mandates.
Our movement grew quickly and thirty state chapters have been created, coupled with an exemplary Advisory Board of national leaders.
United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) still has twice-a-month calls with PIE state presidents and is very engaged in implementing strategies to obtain our goal.
President Trump’s decision to name my Congressman, Mick Mulvaney, to lead the Office of Management and Budget, created a vacancy for his seat. I prayed about running, talked about it with my husband, made several calls to people in the District who supported my run for State Superintendent of Education, and talked to national Common Core leaders about a possible run.
Everyone I spoke with agreed that there is no one in the U.S. Congress that fully understands the problems in public education. I also analyzed the returns from my 2014 Superintendent’s race and found that I had finished FIRST in the Fifth District, winning by more than 3,000 votes over my eight competitors.
I announced my candidacy in the Republican Primary for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District in mid-January, and as of this writing, there are seven other Republicans who have filed with the Federal Election Commission.
This is where I stand out from my opponents in this very conservative district that President Trump won by nearly twenty points. Most are “establishment” Republicans who have raised taxes, supported Common Core or sat silent on issues of political correctness.
And none of the others in this race have a clue about education policy and the ongoing problems with Common Core and the data-mining tests that are used to enforce the standards.
I am writing my story to urge you to help me win this election and be our voice in Congress.
I am determined to win and am working 24/7 to do all I can to make that happen, but I need to raise a lot of cash to get my message out to this sprawling district. Several of my opponents are wealthy and can self-fund their campaign, but I am just a mom activist who has volunteered and spent personal resources most of my adult life to fight for the children of this country and to maintain our free Constitutional Republic.
I took a trip to D.C. recently to meet with political action committees, hoping to gain endorsements and financial support. Many of them said they will see how much money I can raise on my own first, and they will be looking at the financial disclosures due the end of this month to gauge who they might support.
I talked to them about the importance of our issue and explained that what is being taught in public schools is fundamental to many of the problems our country faces politically. I explained the intentional agenda to change our form of government through the liberal indoctrination of our country’s children and pointed to the evidence of the fact that most young Americans wanted the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders for their President. We must stop allowing our tax dollars to fund this agenda.
Please help this mom activist go to Washington D.C. to be our voice. Seize the moment with me while we have a Republican-led Congress, and a bold president who does what he said he would do. Time is of the essence if we are to preserve our Constitutional Republic. I need your help.
Please donate any amount to my campaign, but please give a lot of thought to contributing $250 or more right away, so I can list your name on my FEC report as one of my strongest supporters. Alternatively, would you consider a weekly pledge of $10, $20, $50 or $100 for the remaining nine weeks of the campaign?
Many of you have never contributed to a candidate before. I hope you will consider making your first contribution to help me win this seat.
This election is too important to lose, because with President Trump’s election and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, it’s time to seize the moment and work as aggressively as possible to move our conservative agenda as fast and as far as we can.
I’m planning to run an aggressive campaign, and I have no fear of calling out my opponents for enabling those who are taking away our freedoms. Too many conservatives lose elections because they are afraid to stand up when the left attacks. I welcome it.
I am working twelve to sixteen hours a day, making calls to raise money, speaking at events and issuing press statements, because I know I can win this race. I need your help and support from others across America who are concerned about our nation’s future. Please do what you can today.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, for considering my candidacy, and for all the work you do to take back our schools.
Nationwide Coalition letter
linked at Florida’s Stop Common Core Coalition here.
January 9, 2017
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
428 Senate Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Members of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee,
We, the undersigned leaders of a nationwide coalition of grassroots parent groups, wish to raise significant concerns about Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, and request that you ask her these questions about education, standards, privacy and autonomy issues:
1) We understand that your website statement right after your appointment that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core was meant to reassure activists that you oppose the standards and will honor Mr. Trump’s promise to get rid of Common Core.
Please list your efforts during your extensive period of education activism and philanthropy to fight the implementation of the standards.
2) In your November 23 website statement you mention “high standards,” and in the Trump Transition Team readout of your November 19th meeting with the president-elect, you reportedly discussed “higher national standards.”
Please explain how this is different from Common Core. Also, please justify this stand in light of the lack of constitutional and statutory authority for the federal government to involve itself in standards, and in light of Mr. Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, make education local, and scale back or abolish the U.S. Department of Education.
3) Would you please reconcile your website statement that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core with your record of education advocacy in Michigan and elsewhere – specifically, when you have, either individually or through your organizations (especially the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) that you founded and chaired, and of which your family foundation is still the majority funder):
Been described as supporting Common Core by Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation in the Detroit News?
Actively worked to block a bill that would have repealed and replaced Michigan’s Common Core standards with the Massachusetts standards, arguably the best in the nation?
Actively lobbied for continued implementation of Common Core in Michigan?
Financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan?
Funded Alabama pro-Common Core state school board candidates?
Threatened the grassroots parent organization Stop Common Core in Michigan with legal action for showing the link between GLEP endorsement and Common Core support?
4) The Indiana voucher law that you and your organization, the American Federation for Children (AFC), strongly supported and funded requires voucher recipient schools to administer the public school Common Core-aligned tests and submit to the grading system based on those same Common Core-aligned tests. The tests determine what is taught, which means that this law is imposing Common Core on private schools. Indiana “is the secondworst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy” according to the Center for Education Reform because of that and other onerous requirements, and the state received an F grade on the Education Liberty Watch School Choice Freedom Grading Scale.
Do you support imposing public-school standards, curriculum and tests on private and or home schools?
5) Through Excel in Ed and the American Federation for Children, you have influenced legislation that has made Florida a “leader” in school choice, yet the majority of students, especially those in rural areas, in states like Florida, still chooses to attend traditional public schools. Public school advocates in Florida complain that expanded school choice has negatively affected their traditional public schools, even in previously high performing districts.
As Secretary of Education, how will you support the rights of parents and communities whose first choice is their community’s traditional public school?
6) You and AFC have been strong supporters of federal Title I portability. As Secretary of Education, would you require the same public school, Common Core tests and the rest of the federal regulations for private schools under a Title I portability program as Jeb Bush recommended for Mitt Romney in 2012 (p. 24)? If yes, please cite the constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in regulating schools, including private schools, and explain how this policy squares with Mr. Trump’s promise to reduce the federal education footprint.
7) The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires secretarial approval of state education plans for standards, tests and accountability. Will you support state sovereignty by approving the state plans in line with Mr. Trump’s vision of decreasing the federal role in education, or will you exercise federal control by secretarial veto power over these plans?
8) The Philanthropy Roundtable group that you chaired published a report on charter schools, but did not mention the Hillsdale classical charter schools, even though they are in your home state of Michigan and Hillsdale is nationally renowned for its classical and constitutional teaching and for not taking federal funding. Have you or any of your organizations done anything substantive to support the Hillsdale model aside from a few brief mentions on your websites? If not, do you want all charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere to only teach Common Core-aligned standards, curriculum and tests?
9) During the primary campaign, President-elect Trump indicated that he strongly supported student privacy by closing the loopholes in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), saying the following to a parent activist:
I would close all of it,” Trump replied. “You have to have privacy. You have to have privacy. So I’d close all of it. But, most of all, I’d get everything out of Washington, ‘cause that’s where it’s all emanating from.
Will you commit to reversing the Obama administration’s regulatory gutting of FERPA and to updating that statute to better protect student privacy in the digital age?
10) We are sure you are aware of serious parental concerns about corporate collection and mining of highly sensitive student data through digital platforms, without parental knowledge or consent. But the Philanthropy Roundtable, which you chaired, published a report called Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching that lauds the Dream Box software that “records 50,000 data points per student per hour” and does not contain a single use of the words “privacy,” “transparency” [as in who receives that data and how it is used to make life-changing decision for children], or “consent.”
Will you continue to promote the corporate data-mining efforts of enterprises such as Dream Box and Knewton, whose CEO bragged about collecting “5-10 million data points per user per day,” described in your organization’s report?
11) Related to Questions 9 and 10 above, there is currently a federal commission, the Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking, which is discussing lifting the federal prohibition on the creation of a student unit-record system. If that prohibition is removed, the federal government would be allowed to maintain a database linking student data from preschool through the workforce. That idea is strongly opposed by parent groups and privacy organizations.
Will you commit to protecting student privacy by recommending to the Commission on EvidenceBased Policymaking that this prohibition be left in place?
12) As outlined in a letter from Liberty Counsel that was co-signed by dozens of parent groups across the nation, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) plans to add subjective, invasive, illegal, and unconstitutional survey or test mindset questions to the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
What will you do to rein in NAGB and protect the psychological privacy and freedom of conscience of American students?
13) Through commissions, programs, federally funded groups, the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act, and other entities, there has been an explosion of effort to expand invasive, subjective social emotional learning (SEL) standards, curricula and assessment.
What is your view of SEL and what will you do to protect student psychological privacy and freedom of conscience?
Thank you for your willingness to hear and address the concerns of hundreds of thousands of parents across this nation.
Should you need any further detail on any of these issues, I am acting as point of contact for this coalition.
Karen R. Effrem, MD President – Education Liberty Watch
National Organizations and Education Policy Leaders
Karen R. Effrem, MD – President, Education Liberty Watch
Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education emerita, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas
Eunie Smith, Acting President & Mary Potter Summa, National Issues Chair – Eagle Forum
Angela Davidson Weinzinger – Leader, Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards
Donna G. Garner, Retired Teacher and EdViews.org Policy Commentator
Christel Swasey – Advisory Board Member, United States Parents Involved in Education
Shane Vander Hart – Caffeinated Thoughts
Teri Sasseville – Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Twitter Stop Federal Education Mandates in the U.S
Gudrun & Tim Hinderberger – Founding Administrators & Michelle Earle, Co-administrator, Americans Against Common Core Group
Alice Linahan, Vice-President – Women on the Wall
Teri Sasseville – Stop Early Childhood Common Core
Lynne M Taylor – Common Core Diva, education researcher and activist
State Organizations and Education Policy Leaders
Betty Peters – Member, Alabama State Board of Education
Jennifer Helms, PhD, RN – President, Arkansans for Education Freedom
Orlean Koehle – President, California Eagle Forum
Orlean Koehle – Director, Californians United Against Common Core
Karen R. Effrem, MD – Executive Director, Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
Meredith Mears, Debbie Higgenbotham, Stacie Clark – FL Parents RISE Keith Flaugh – Florida Citizens Alliance
Janet O McDonald, M.Ed., LMT, Neurodevelopmental Specialist & Instructor – Member, Flagler County School Board, District 2
Catherine Baer – Chairwoman, The Tea Party Network
Suzette Lopez – Accountabaloney
Sue Woltanski – Minimize Testing Maximize Learning
Beth Overholt, MSW – Chair, Opt Out Leon County
Deb Gerry Herbage – Founder, Exposed Blog
Lamarre Notargiacomo – Indian River Coalition 4 Educational Freedom
Charlotte Greenbarg – President, Independent Voices for Better Education
Teri Sasseville – Georgians to Stop Common Core
Stephanie Froerer Zimmerman – Founder, Idahoans for Local Education
Donald Bauder – V.P Hamilton County Grassroots Conservatives
Shane Vander Hart and Leslie Beck – Iowa RestoreEd
Lisa Huesers, Courtney Rankin, Rosy Schmidt – Kansans Against Common Core
Shirley Daniels – Kentucky Eagle Forum
Dr. Elizabeth Meyers, Dr. Anna Arthurs, Mrs. Mary Kass, Mrs. Terri Temmcke – Stop Common Core in Louisiana
Deborah DeBacker, Tamara Carlone, Melanie Kurdys , & Karen Braun – Stop Common Core in Michigan
Linda Bell, founder; Kerstin Hardley-Schulz, & Chris Daniels – Minnesota Advocates and Champions for Children
Jennifer Black-Allen and Anne Taylor – MACC Refuse the Tests
Karen Briske – Stop Common Core in Nevada
Ken Eyring – Member, Windham School Board
Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Stop Common Core and Federal Education Mandates in the Fingerlakes, NY
Alphonsine Englerth – Advocate & Founder, Flo’s Advocacy for Better Education in NYS
Heidi Huber – Ohioans for Local Control
Oklahoma Jenni White – Education Director, Restore Oklahoma Parental Empowerment
Karen Bracken – President/Founder, Tennessee Against Common Core Bobbie Patray – President, Tennessee Eagle Forum
Lynn Davenport – Parents Encouraging A Classical Education (PEACE)
Mellany Lamb – Texans Against Common Core
Meg Bakich – Leader, Truth in Texas Education
A. Patrick Huff – Adjunct Professor, University of St. Thomas
Utah Michelle Boulter – Member, Utah State Board of Education, District 15, as an individual
Wendy K. Hart – Member, Alpine School District Board of Education, ASD2, as an individual
Oak Norton – Executive Director, Agency Based Education
Gayle Ruzicka – President, Utah Eagle Forum
Oak Norton and Christel Swasey – Co-Founders, Utahns Against Common Core
Dr. Gary Thompson – Founder, Early Life Psychology, Inc.
Angela Summers – WV Against Common Core
JR Wilson – Stop Common Core in Washington State
Leah Huck, Karen W. Larsen, and Breann Treffry, Administrators – Washington State Against Common Core
Jeffrey Horn – Stop Common Core in Wisconsin
I am so annoyed. Those words actually came out of the mouth of the CEP Commission leader: “Ripping the Band-Aid (of data privacy and control) probably would not fly.” But pulling it off using (in his words) “baby steps” is the CEP’s plan, he said in the video of yesterday’s meeting.
Four-hour federal meetings posted on YouTube are not fun to watch. These arrogant –and, let me remind you, unelected CEP members, who we cannot possibly fire (they’re appointed) –spout blah-blah-blah that can consistently be summarized as something like: “… I feel great about the way we persuade the elite and rob Americans of privacy –without widespread knowledge and completely without consent.”
Wait: Before I say one more word: TOMORROW, 12-14-16, is the deadline for public input on privacy v. fed authority over data —here’s the comment link.
Please comment, even if all you write is something very short and very simple: “I believe in informed consent. I oppose non-consensual data mining. Stop this madness.” Do it, please: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003
You and I both suspect that zero consideration will be taken by the CEP of the comments from the public. Do it anyway. Don’t let them think nobody sees or opposes this assault on personal data privacy. And yes, it’s about disaggregated data. See the quotes below, repeatedly speaking about PII. (Personally Identifiable Information as defined in federal FERPA includes so much, even biometric information: behavioral data, DNA samples, nicknames, bus stop times, family history, academic history, fingerprints, blood samples, etc.)
Since CEP has disabled embedding of its public meeting, I’m embedding a video that suffices as a metaphor for the whole thing, before I tell you what went on in the meeting itself.
See how this carnivorous sundew plant injests this insect? It illustrates the stealthy federal hunger for individuals’ data. As individuals (the insects) are drawn to the sweet federal dollars (nectar) coming from the hungry plant (federal government) the tentacles of the plant (federal data mining; SLDS and CEDS) become more and more attached until the insect finally loses all autonomy.
Here’s one where a carnivorous plant lures and later digests a mouse.
If state legislators and administrators would exercise some self-reliance, tighten their financial belts, turn to ourselves (localities) to fund schools and other agencies instead of using federal funds or national, corporate lobby cash, which only give money in exchange for data– then the federal and global data mining traps would fail.
States are stupidly giving away our vital liberties, addicted to the sweet, sticky money that we’ve been lapping at federal troughs.
I am longing to see evidence that our friends in freedom (in D.C. or here in Utah) are making the smallest peep to protect our children from this ongoing, slow-motion, tsunami-like data grab. Maybe it’s happening behind the scenes. I pray at least that that is so.
So, unembedded, if you want to hear the federal “Let’s Take Student Data Without Consent” Commission (aka CEP Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking) is saying, check out this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXasJLAWgtc
Ironically, CEP disabled the video‘s embedding function (it’s a public meeting) but if you look at this link, at hour 1:25 to 1:31 you’ll hear this question from an attendee, followed by a CEP response that summarizes the event:
“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question, and I don’t expect you to be able to answer it, but maybe we can start a conversation that could be useful to us. So, I see census as having made a lot of steps to move in the kinds of directions that are suggested or anticipated by the Commission bill, in that you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have, into the — you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together. What are the ways that you could expand those efforts? Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about? What kinds of things have you thought about? What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”
The response at 1:29 from the CEP:
“…One of the biggest constraints that everybody involved in this sort of endeavor faces is the different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc– had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a state; versus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”
Summary: the CEP just said that “ripping the band-aid” of privacy off the arm of the American people will “probably not fly”; so the CEP has got to “do it in sort of baby steps.”
I don’t think I’m going to watch the rest of this dog and pony show. I’m going to write again to Mia, Jason, Mike and Gary.
What are you going to do? Send CEP a comment? Email your legislators? Say a prayer for the privacy of American people? Re-read 1984 to motivate yourself to care?
You can attend the CEP’s next public meetings in various places across the nation by visiting the CEP federal site here.