Archive for the ‘Parents’ Rights’ Category

#STOPSETRA – Congress! Protect the Psychological Privacy of Children   1 comment

cry

 

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…”

stealth eye two

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.

crying stopesea

 

HB 358: Protecting Student Privacy Rights in Utah   2 comments

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.

Updated: Protect Children’s Privacy: UT Legislature MUST Support HB0358   4 comments

Update 3/10/16:  Utah’s legislative session has passed, but HB 358, the student privacy bill, has not been funded.  And so we are stuck, at least for another year, without proper protections for our children.  (If you don’t know why that’s bad, begin by reading a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, by Jane Robbins, on why Georgia is considering a student privacy bill):

Robbins explains,  “…parents have heard glowing claims that ‘digital’ or ‘personalized’ learning will transform education, but they may not understand exactly what this means…[I]nteractive programs, marketed by private ventors, frequently use sophisticated software that collects massive amounts of highly personal information about the student’s behaviors, mindsets and attitudes”. She mentions the fact that the U.S. Department of Education is gung-ho on slurping up that personal, psychological information about beliefs and attitudes, as evidenced in its own published draft  reports.  (Must-reads!)  Robbins makes the real point when she writes,  “The issue here goes far beyond data security.  It is whether the government and private companies have any right to collect this highly sensitive data in the first place.”

Not passing/funding the Utah HB 358 privacy bill, while passing and funding HB 277, the digital education bill, was crazy.  It was the worst mistake of this entire legislative year.

Does the legislature not know that data is the new gold rush, and that education vendors are behaving as if this is the old wild west, without solid laws to govern student data sharing and partnering and selling?  Does the legislature not know that to the federal government, also, data is the new gold rush as well, and that our own Congressman Jason Chaffetz held recent hearings against the Department of Education for its data insecure practices– and gave the Dept. an “F”?

Think of it this way:  legislators just barely bought the children and teachers of Utah the trendiest, shiniest $15 million vehicle (HB 277) while saying, “We are unable –or unwilling — to pay for seat belts and air bags” –though the safety features would have cost a tiny, tiny fraction (one-sixteenth) of what the vehicle cost.

Where are their brains?

That digital vehicle, HB277 is worthless, at least to this mom, without the seat belts for the kids.  I, for one, will not allow my own children to get into that wild, glittering ride.

 

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Original post:

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HB 358 is here.  It is no small miracle.

If it does not pass (and get funded) tomorrow, the Utah legislature is silently informing us that privacy protections for children’s data do not really matter, and that citizens should not have rights to personal ownership over their personal data.

Even though HB 358 is scheduled for a hearing today at the Capitol:  Tuesday, March 8th, at 5:00 p.m., the bill is in trouble because the executive appropriations committee did not fund it.  That’s almost the same thing as killing the bill.   (The appropriations committee needs to hear from MANY of us, as fast as possible.  See below for contact information.)

I have been head-bangingly furious about the lack of proper privacy protections for my children since 2012, when I found out that there was such a thing as a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)– here and in every other state–and when I then asked to opt out of SLDS tracking, I just received the State School Board’s official “no” letter.

In America, land of the free!  In Utah, land of family-friendly liberty.  Here, I was told that I was not allowed to opt my child out of  SLDS, so that being tagged, tracked, and longitudinally stalked, from day one in school until my child was a working adult and beyond, was a mandate.

I also found out that:

1-  Although it starts with the word “State,” the SLDS is federally paid-for and is aligned to federal data standards and is federally interoperable;

2.  Those who house Utah’s SLDS have zero legislative oversight.  Incredibly, when SLDS began in 2009, there was zero vote-taking; SLDS came because of a grant application filled out by a clerk at the state office of education simply asking for a federal SLDS grant, and then it was implemented without voter approval.  Yet SLDS is 100% applied to all school children, non-consensually.

4.  FERPA (federal privacy law) was altered in 2009 by the Department of Education to become almost meaningless.  Despite a huge law suit, FERPA stayed in its altered, privacy-harming state.   So:  in-state or beyond, proper privacy protections do not exist.  (For more on that, see the recent hearings of Rep. Jason Chaffetz against the U.S. Dept. of Education)

5.  SLDS interfaces with many other state agencies in the Utah Data Alliance, so there is no guarantee that a student’s private data, collected by a school, won’t end up in the data silo of another agency totally unrelated to education.  SLDS has the ability, if state policy allows, to also interface with federal agencies’ data, other states’ and even other nations’ data collections.

 

This situation has literally kept me up at night, many nights, including tonight.

Along with countless other moms and dads, lawyers, think tanks, and legislators, I’ve done a lot of research and writing and speaking and pleading on this subject.  See some of what I learned and shared in the past four years, here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here.

I tell you all this in case you are new to this issue so that you’ll understand how INCREDIBLY important passing  HB 358 is.

House Bill 358 ought to be treated as one of the very most, if not the most, important bill at the Capitol this year.  But the legislature is saying that there isn’t enough money to pass the privacy bill, which has an implementation price tag of $800,000.  Oddly, the legislature has agreed to fund the FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLAR technology grant program, HB 277, but that technology bill is meaningless without privacy protections for students’ data.

Is the “no funding for HB 358” decision truly a budgeting pinch decision, or is it a matter of the legislators not caring enough about the rights of students to have privacy?

Here are a few of the lines in the bill that I really appreciate:

Line 463 says:   “A student owns the student’s personally identifiable student data”.

Lines 494-503 say that schools have to give disclosure statements to parents, promising not to share certain types of data with out a data authorization.

Lines 775-792 prohibit psychiatric or psychological tests or analysis without prior written consent of parents, and specifically protect data collection about sexual orientation and behavior, mental problems, religious beliefs, self-incriminating behavior, appraisals of individuals with whom the student has a close family relationship; income, etc, and that written consent is required in all grades, kindergarten through 12th.

The bill designates three different types of data that schools may collect:  necessary, optional, and prohibited.

Even though the “necessary” list seems too long, at least it limits data collection.  It will collect data “required by state statute or federal law to conduct the regular activities of an education entity” such as name, date of birth, sex, parent contact information, student i.d., test results or exceptions from taking tests, transcript information, immunization record or exception from an immunization record, drop out data, race, etc.

Line 346-351    The “optional” list includes IEP information, biometric information, and information that is required for a student to participate in federal data gathering programs.

Lines 356 – 376  The bill also defines “personally identifiable student data” as data that cannot be legally disaggregated (identified by a particular student)  (See lines 224-227 for disaggregation language):

356          (i) a student’s first and last name;
357          (ii) the name of a student’s family member;
358          (iii) a student’s or a student’s family’s home or physical address;
359          (iv) a student’s email address or online contact information;
360          (v) a student’s telephone number;
361          (vi) a student’s social security number;
362          (vii) a student’s biometric identifier;
363          (viii) a student’s health or disability data;
364          (ix) a student’s education entity student identification number;
365          (x) a student’s social media login or alias;
366          (xi) a student’s persistent identifier, if the identifier is associated with personally


367     identifiable student data, including:
368          (A) a customer number held in a cookie; or
369          (B) a processor serial number;
370          (xii) a combination of a student’s last name or photograph with other information that
371     together permits a person to contact the student online;
372          (xiii) information about a student or a student’s family that a person collects online and
373     combines with other personally identifiable student data to identify the student; and
374          (xiv) other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific
375     student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have
376     first-hand knowledge of the student, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.

We need to protect our kids!  This bill NEEDS to pass!

If you’ve ever read 1984 and remember Big Brother; if good old-fashioned history books have taught you that tyranny has been far more dominant than liberty throughout world history (with the exception of a freedom experienced in the U.S. under the Constitution for a few 200+ years) –or if you’ve been paying attention to the recent struggle between big-data and individual rights–  then you know:  allowing any person or government –unfettered–  to track individuals without their consent, for virtually the duration of their entire lives, is a very bad idea.

We need as many emails and phone calls or texts as we can muster before 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8,  to the following representatives, and especially to Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and President Niederhauser:

Representative (Speaker) Hughes  greghughes@le.utah.gov

Senator (President) Niederhauser   wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Senator Sanpei       dsanpei@le.utah.gov

Senator Hillyard  lhillyard@le.utah.gov

Senator Dunnigan  jdunnigan@le.utah.gov

Senator Adams  jsadams@le.utah.gov

Representative Gibson  fgibson@le.utah.gov

Senator Okerlund  rokerlund@le.utah.gov

Here they are, ready to cut and paste into your email:     dsanpei@le.utah.gov lhillyard@le.utah.gov jdunnigan@le.utah.gov jsadams@le.utah.gov  fgibson@le.utah.gov  rokerlund@le.utah.gov  greghughes@le.utah.gov   wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

 

Thank you.

 

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/bills/static/HB0358.html

 

PARENTAL RIGHTS ON THE LINE: Come at 4:00 Today – Capitol Building: HB164 and HB264   4 comments

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.

POWELK

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.

 

Also:

brian king

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?”

sex standards

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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.

Email:

To: blast@le.utah.gov,”V. Lowry Snow” <vlsnow@le.utah.gov>,LaVar Christensen <lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov>,kimcoleman@le.utah.gov,brucecutler@le.utah.gov,seliason@le.utah.gov,justinfawson@le.utah.gov,Francis Gibson <fgibson@le.utah.gov>,ehutchings@le.utah.gov,dlifferth@le.utah.gov,dmccay@le.utah.gov,csmoss@le.utah.gov,mnoel@kanab.net,mariepoulson@le.utah.gov

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.
Best regards;

 

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
gary
Accompanying letter:

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.”

Respectfully Submitted;

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: drgary@earlylifepsych.com Website: www.earlylifepsych.com

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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 blast@le.utah.gov
Rep. Lowry Snow vlsnow@utah.le.gov 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman kimcoleman@le.utah.gov 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler brucecutler@le.utah.gov 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason seliason@le.utah.gov 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson justinfawson@le.utah.gov 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson fgibson@le.utah.gov
Rep. Eric Hutchings ehutchings@le.utah.gov
Rep. David Lifferth dlifferth@le.utah.gov 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay dmccay@le.utah.gov 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel mnoel@kanab.net 435-616-5603

Thanks for your support of children’s innocence, parental authority, and children’s future liberty.

 

THANK YOU, UTAH REPS, FOR STOPPING HB 164, FORCED-TESTING BILL   2 comments

Update:  The bill has been resurrected.  HB164 will have another vote Monday. Please email and call/text legislators, asking them to vote “No” again.  If this passes, Utah has set a precedent that says that parents do not know best, that they are not the resident experts of their own children; that the government’s SAGE/AIR tests are to be forced on children throughout the year in formative, interim and other tests; that data collected via these tests will be owned by the state, not by the individual; and that students who opt out and fail the class as a result, should blame themselves, and not the ridiculous, top-heavy system that has stymied freedom of education and freedom from unwelcome privacy invasion under the pretense that Common Core tests and standards are valid and helpful and harmless.
Emails:
Rep. Brad Last blast@le.utah.gov
Rep. Lowry Snow vlsnow@utah.le.gov 435-703-3688435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov 801-808-5105801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman kimcoleman@le.utah.gov 801-865-8970801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler brucecutler@le.utah.gov 801-556-4600801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason seliason@le.utah.gov 801-673-4748801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson justinfawson@le.utah.gov 801-781-0016801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson fgibson@le.utah.gov
Rep. Eric Hutchings ehutchings@le.utah.gov
Rep. David Lifferth dlifferth@le.utah.gov 801-358-9124801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay dmccay@le.utah.gov 801-810-4110801-810-4110
Rep. Carol Moss – D csmoss@le.utah.gov 801-647-8764801-647-8764
Rep. Michael Noel mnoel@kanab.net 435-616-5603435-616-5603
Rep. Marie Poulson – D mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
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What I wrote earlier:
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Dear Representatives,
Thank you so much for not allowing HB164 to pass.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am, both as a parent and as a teacher.
It would have been immoral to prevent children from graduating if they didn’t take yearlong, secretive, standardized tests; even more so, when that test, SAGE/AIR, had never been validated (it had never been shown to accurately test what it claimed to test).
The vote against this bill also honored multiple  laws that hold parents as primary decision makers over the education of their children, with the state in a supporting role.
I honor you for this.  Thank you.
Christel Swasey
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It’s Not Just Sex Ed. #StopHB0246 – Common Core of Sex Values.   32 comments

brian king

Currently in the Utah legislature, poised to become law, is HB 0246.

I read, in the Tribune, that Representative Brian King felt that the bill was important because, “Knowledge is power,” and “I don’t believe in keeping our kids ignorant.”

They certainly won’t be ignorant– nor innocent; not a chance.

With this bill, we meet its parent:  the Common Sexuality Education Standards movement.  Slightly more twisted than the other sets of common standards, it has hit Utah through HB 0246, Rep. Brian King’s bill– oddly titled “Reproductive Health Amendments”.

Now, along with CCSS (Common Core for English/Math) and along with NGSS (common science standards) and along with AP US History (common un-history standards) –here are common, national, sexuality education standards.  Like the “common standards” predecessors, this set is twisted ethically, is “progressive” politically, and is anti-local-control.

Be clear, because I wasn’t until today:  “Sexuality Education,” which this bill offers us, is not the same thing as “Sex Education”.  At all.  Old fashioned sex ed can be compared to a civics class that teaches kids that there is such a thing as voting, while “Sexuality Ed” is like a civics class that teaches kids which political party to join.  National Sexuality Standards are here to change beliefs and values about sex, not to teach the biology or the consequences of sex.

The Sexuality Information and Education Council (SIECUS, co-promoter of common sexuality standards –as well as a top promoter of abortion) defines it thus:

Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values.”

Sex ed was about the science of reproduction; legitimate, academically.  Sexuality education is actually a new religion– it forms beliefs and values.

sad child i

 

This bill gives Utah “comprehensive sexuality education” starting with children about nine years old.

Before we read what’s in the bill– first, let’s look at what was taken out of Utah’s previous sex education law.

You see a lot of crossed out words.   These used to be in the law and won’t be, if HB0246 passes.  Read them.

Why were these struck out?

  [(A) the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage, and fidelity
106     after marriage, as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases; and]
107          [(B) personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.]
108          [(ii) (A) At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous
109     questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the
110     violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.]

Am I reading this correctly?  Will Utah teachers be forbidden  from teaching fidelity and abstinence as viable methods for preventing communicable diseases?  And, are Utah teachers no longer forbidden from providing instruction that might encourage violation of laws?

What illegal acts will we be teaching, then?  Are these words referring to abortion-related laws, or pedophilia, or what?  There was some reason why were these lines were removed, and the law altered.  I want to know what that was.

Here’s more that got removed from Utah’s previous standard:

 [emphasizing
156     abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in:];
157          [(I) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;]
158          [(II) the advocacy of homosexuality;]
159          [(III) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices;
160     or]
161          [(IV) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage;]

It appears that Utah teachers are no longer prohibited from teaching students the “intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage“.  They can “teach” all of it, if the bill passes; nothing says they can’t.

sex standards

I have to say, with a grain of gratitude, that this bill does look slightly less horrific than the National Sexuality Standards in full, in one way:  the Utah bill delays comprehensive sexuality classes until after third grade.  The National Sex Standards begin several years earlier, in kindergarten.

Otherwise, they are in synch.  The language and intent matches, and the Utah bill is patterned after the national sex standards, as part of the Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE).   –For example, if you click on the FoSE link, as with the SIECUS link, it uses and defines “comprehensive sexuality education,” the term that the Utah bill also uses 12 times.

3rd-5th graders

The Utah bill plans to start sex ed after grade three, so know this:  the National Sexuality Education Standards for grades 3-5 include: being able to describe male and female reproductive anatomy and functions; being able to describe the changes of puberty; and being able to “define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.”

Do you feel fine about forcing –on children as young as nine years old– “lessons” on genital anatomy, reproduction, puberty and both hetero- and homosexuality?  At what point is this not science, not biology, not decent?  At what young age do sexual education lessons cross the line, becoming something other than teaching truth?

At what point would any statement about sex be declared by decent people to be improper, perverted, deviant, and emotionally abusive?  For me, that time is right now.

A term I see getting flashed around a lot in FoSE and HB0246 is “age-appropriate”.  Age-appropriate– by whose definition?  By whose values? ( Before you answer, before you research the people behind the national initiative, let me stop you:  Laughably, the Utah bill prohibits political doctrine –as well as religious or other) from being taught.  See lines 67, 205.  So none of these lessons or standards are, in any way, political, we are to convince ourselves.)

Reading the bill and reading the national sex standards initiative’s documents, I think:  never have I understood more clearly the idea that there are no such thing as age appropriate standards. Every child is different.  Every developmental stage is different. What one child asks about, and is ready to learn at an early age, another child is horrified to speak of until a decade later.  Being insensitive to that fact, by promoting one-sized set of national standards, top-down, on a topic as sensitive and potentially damaging to a child as personal morality and sexuality, is child abuse.

 

6th-8th graders

By 6th-8th grade, the national sex standards have children defining sexual intercourse; differentiating between gender identity, sexual expression, and gender expression; explaining “the range of gender roles”; and defining sexual abstinence only as it relates to pregnancy prevention.

In the Utah bill, “abstinence” is explained using words that I find to be pornographic, especially in the context of having a sixth grader (eleven year old) read it. See line 95-96.

95          (f) “Sexual abstinence” means not engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse or
96     genital skin-to-skin contact.

WHAT?

There should be a whole bill written prohibiting the exposure of an innocent mind to that sentence.  That’s not the curriculum or the test; that’s just the legislation about it.  And it seems at cross-purposes to define the term that is no longer to be part of the message.  (Abstinence is out, they said.)

9th-12th graders

The National Sex Standards have high school students analyzing the influences that impact when and whether they engage in sexual behaviors; differentiating between biological sex and sexual orientation; demonstrating ways to communicate about when and whether to engage in sexual behaviors; oddly, at this point there is little to no scientific or reproductive aspect of sex education– it’s about activity and engagement.

Notice, in HB 0246, that students will be:

129   reducing the number of sexual partners

The bill also pushes “day-after” contraception/abortion:

138          (ix) provide instruction about the health benefits and potential side effects of using
139     contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent pregnancy, including instruction regarding
140     emergency contraception and the availability of contraceptive methods.

That’s all I’m going to say about the bill itself.  Read it, and tell your legislators what you think about it.

Some people are afraid of being labeled as conservatives, as believers in God, or as morally strict.  Please don’t let the promoters of this bill intimidate you by calling you a backwoodsy, out of touch, prudish, fearful, religious, whatever.  This bill, and these standards, are way beyond anything academically or ethically reasonable.

This fight in front of us, Utahns, is about protecting our children, unmuddied by SIECUS’s extreme political agenda.

It is an agenda of zero morality.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Pretending that sexuality education can be taught without reference to conscience, modesty, or morality, is a lie.  There is such a thing as human conscience, and right and wrong, especially where sexuality is concerned.

(I keep thinking about the lesson from last Sunday, in church:  “The Body is a Temple“.  The body  is so much more than an object for pleasure.  Every body is holy, housing a spirit child of God.  Procreation is how God’s millions of beautiful children form physical families.  That matters– how it happens, when and with whom it happens, all matters– almost more than anything else that the body can do.  Yes, human sexuality is good and right, but steering it is not a free-for-all.  It is not without a governing morality.)

That’s where the national sex standards, and HB 0246, are wrong.  They pretend that human beings are without morality, without a sense of right and wrong, and that there is no unhappy consequence beyond disease or unplanned pregnancy that could result from acting out sexually, in any way, and at any age.  Those are lies.

One of the main tests of life is “Will my body rule over my spirit, or will my spirit rule over my body? Will I yield to the natural or to the eternal?” We get to choose.  These standards say that, in essence, there is only a body, no spirit; and there is no reason to restrain whims.

I’m not suggesting that Utah–or any state– should teach denominational religious doctrine in public schools.  Of course not.

I am saying that it is wrong to promote and teach a prescribed, “new” morality (in my mind, the same, old fashioned, immorality).  It is  so wrong to teach little ones, nine years old, heterosexuality and homosexuality, in a school setting.  It is wrong to teach that there is no such thing as perversion, nor anything wrong with sex obsession, or gender reversals.  It is wrong to include so many  teachings about deviant and degrading sexual behaviors as if they were normal and good, while excluding fidelity and chastity from the conversation.

 

sad

 

(For future reference, some organizations,  listed as promoting the  National Sexuality Education Standards, are: the National Education Association, the American School Health Association,  the American Association of Health Education, the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, the Future of Sex Education Initiative, The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) and Advocates for Youth.  Consultants listed include: Planned Parenthood; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Netword (GLSEN) and many more.  Utah’s standardized test provider, American Institutes for Research, (AIR) is openly on board with the National Sexuality Education Standards and its values, too.)

“User Profiling” by Department of Ed #StopSETRA   5 comments

stealth assessment baby

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.

 

grit

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.

 

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