Archive for the ‘Parents’ Rights’ Category

Privacy-Crushing FEPA Bill #HR4174: 10 Nitty Gritty Facts You Missed #VETO !   1 comment

 

History itself must be holding its breath to see what happens next.  H.R. 4174, Foundations of Evidence-Based Policy, a bad bill for liberty and privacy, awaits President Trump’s signature –or his veto.

I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not a data expert.  I’m pretty good with reading, though.

In reading, I noticed:

  1. The bill creates an inventory of citizens, their land, and their money. It includes indentifiable info (pii).
  2. It is actively hostile toward, and seeks to alter, policies and laws that uphold privacy rights.
  3. The bill allows the federal government to collect, archive and share personally identifiable information.
  4. The bill authorizes government to break confidentiality pledges and punish citizens based on the perceived accuracy of data citizens submit.
  5. The bill actively seeks to “convert” databases that don’t match its machine-interoperability standards. 
  6. An agent who shared/sold sensitive information from these databases might receive zero punishment.
  7. The bill forces agencies and instrumentalities to share data with other agencies.
  8. The bill empowers the Deep State, not allowing elections for data heads. Bureaucratic appointees only. 
  9. The bill authorizes federal agents to use private organizations and individuals to mine data.
  10. The bill replaces informed consent with (pointless) informed public comment.

Below this video is a detailed, language-focused, page-specific, quote-laden excavation of the bill.  It is more detailed than the video.

 

 

 

  • FACT #1: The bill creates an inventory of citizens, their land, and their money.  

The new, federal “comprehensive data inventory” will feed into a “federal data catalog” and it’s “statistical” data includes the whole, or relevant groups, or components within, the economy, society, or the natural environment” (page 17).  What else IS there on earth, that isn’t covered under people, money, and nature itself?

An interesting spot to detect this in action is on page 19, where an exception is granted to the Energy Information Administration:  “Data or information acquired by the Energy Information Administration under a pledge of confidentiality…shall not be disclosed in identifiable form” –meaning, obviously, that data acquired by agencies other than EIA –even under a pledge of confidentiality– CAN be disclosed in identifiable form!

  • FACT #2:  It is actively hostile to laws that uphold individual or local privacy rights.

The bill does not clearly forbid ANY type of data sharing, nor does it forbid anyone from at least requesting sensitive data access– and the bill treats privacy statues or policies as obstacles.

See page 2: “evidence-building plan… shall contain… a list of any challenges to developing evidence… including any statutory or other restrictions“. See page 22: “… Statutory constraints limit the ability of these agencies to share data...”  So state privacy laws are limiting the federal ability to share data?  This reminds me of The Princess Bride movie. It’s Prince Humperdink (this bill) trying to steal Princess Buttercup (students’ data) from Vizzini (state SLDS databases) “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen.”

And (not in the bill, but in the bill’s fact sheet and in the CEP’s report to Congress) we learn, shockingly, that the CEP views America’s privacy-protecting “student unit record” ban as “one potential ban that Congress may want to revisit“.

In the bill, neither the term nor the concept of “privacy rights” is ever mentioned.  Agencies are advised that the motivation for letting the public think agencies honor “pledges of  confidentiality” is that not doing so will affect data quality: “Declining trust of the public in the protection of information provided under a pledge of confidentiality… adversely affects both the accuracy and completeness of statistical analyses.”

 

  • FACT #3:  The bill allows the federal government to collect and archive and share personally identifiable information.

The bill redefines many terms so that the words don’t really work the way you might think that word would work.  This reminds me of The Princess Bride, too.

The bill doesn’t overtly lie, so much as it assumes you don’t know what it’s talking about, or that you won’t notice its fancy footwork.

The bill defines a “nonstatistical purpose” as “affecting the rights, privileges or benefits of a particular identifiable respondent“.  In contrast, the bill defines “statistical purpose” as “analysis…without identifying the individuals”.   However it’s not actually a contrast: in addition to “statistical purpose” it also defines “statistical ACTIVITIES” –as “components within the economy, society or the natural environment”. Notice that since statistical activities can be a “component within” society, it can be information about one person. which sure sounds like individuals are included. So both nonstatistical purposes and statistical activities in this bill do include personal information.

Also, the bill defines “evidence” as:“information produced as a result of statistical activities conducted for a statistical purpose.”  Note that the word “information” is adjective-free.  It didn’t say that evidence is only aggregated data, statistical-purposed data.  It’s anything-goes, collected information, collected while aiming to find statistical-purpose data.  So if, in the process of developing methods or resources (or anything, anything– they also mention sampling frames and models and other activities)  the researcher or bureaucrat happen sto stumble upon some unrelated information, well, that’s evidence. Evidence is any information gotten as a result of activities about “components” within society, or the economy, or nature.

  • FACT #4:  The bill authorizes the government to punish citizens based on the accuracy level of the data they submit.

The bill reveals that its agents plan to break confidentiality when citizens or organizations are accused of submitting false information (whatever that really means).  Such citizens will be punished in two ways: first, government pledges of confidentiality will be broken and the person or organization’s identifiable information will be used; second, the person or organization will be prosecuted by law enforcement. Page 20 says, “information collected…under a pledge of confidentiality may be provided…to a law enforcement agency for the prosecution of submissions… of false statistical information under statutes that authorize criminal penalties or civil penalties”. 

Who gets to define “false”?  Who will determine whether the information was really false?  Who ensures that information was really submitted by the very person being punished?  How does the government return confidentiality to the person if the accusation proves to be mistaken?

  • FACT #5: The bill actively seeks to “convert” databases that don’t match its machine-interoperability standards. 

Under “Guidance to make data open by default” (page 7)  Agencies are advised to convert data that are not machine-readable:  “ensure that any public data asset of the agency is machine-readable“.  Everything is to flow interoperably toward the three main designated agencies:  The Bureau of the Census, The Bureau of Labor, and The Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Those three form the new federal database.  (P.S. The Labor and Education Departments are poised to merge.)

It’s interesting to note that in the case of public education, states gullibly accepted the millions of “free”  federal grant dollars for their databases  when common data standards and common core came knocking.  Interoperability mandates of fed-paid, state databases set us up for this bad moment, when easily, the feds can now take what states should never have collected/shared beyond the walls of the school itself. That money came conditionally: the grant language said that state databases had to be nationally interoperable.  Agencies other than state school systems that don’t already have matching data standards will see this bill’s implementers try to convert them. (Don’t do it.)

  • FACT #6:  An agent who shared or sold sensitive information from these databases might receive zero punishment.

There is a little loophole under “Fines and Penalties”.  A person who deliberately shares or sells information could either get a punishment, or NO punishment.  On page 21, it says that an agent or employee who “willfully discloses the information in any manner to a person or agency not entitled to receive it, shall be guilty of a class E felony and imprisoned for NOT MORE THAN 5 years, or fined NOT MORE THAN $250,000, or both.”

Not more than five years could mean one day, or no days.  Not more than $250,000 could mean a penny, or nothing at all.   

  • FACT #7:  The bill forces agencies and instrumentalities to share data with other agencies.

Page 26 says, “Presumption of accessibility for statistical agencies and units:  …the head of an agency shall… make any data asset maintained by the agency available upon request to any statistical agency or unit“.  (P.S. “unit” is one, as in one department or one person.)

And when privacy is spoken of, it’s in suggestion-mode:  that agencies  “take into account” the “risks and restrictions related to the disclosure of personally identifiable information” and “take into account” any “security considerations“.  There’s a stark contrast from the bill’s forceful “shall” language concerning data mining.  “Shall” is used 116 times in the 29 page bill, but never regarding the protection of privacy rights.   Instead of what should have been written– something like “agencies shall not disclose personally identifiable information” the bill’s creators just asks agents to “take into account risks and restrictions“.  That’s a toothless and blind defense.  Over and over the bill gives “shall” mandates about data inventory like the one on page 10, which says that every agency head “shall to the maximum extent practicable, develop and maintain a comprehensive data inventory”.

  • FACT #8  The bill empowers the Deep State.  It weakens representation– our Constitutional right to representative governance.

The bill mandates that the top dogs in every one of the innumerable agencies must be be appointed  (page 3)  from among agencies’ “existing employees” (page 29) –meaning Deep State loyal bureaucrats, untouchable by any vote.  Additional authorized agents are defined as anyone with a pulse: consultants, contractors, employees of contractors, even self-employed researchers (page 16).

Because the bill redefines the word “agency” to mean “executive agency” –which means it includes not only the long list of household-knowledge executive agencies (like Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, etc.) but also all the departments and all instrumentalities of each federal agency– the bill uses and empowers the deep, unelected bureaucracy known as the “Deep State”.

  • FACT #9:  The bill authorizes the federal agents to use private organizations and individuals to help mine data.

On page 5, agencies are told to work on “interagency and private sector coordination”.  On page 9, the bill asks agents to “engage the public and calls for “hosting challenges, competitions, events or other initiatives designed to create additional value from public data assets”.

  • FACT #10:  The bill replaces informed consent with (pointless) informed public comment.

On page 24, it says: “Whenever a written agreement concerns data that respondents were required by law to report and the respondents were not informed that the data could be shared... the terms of such agreement shall be described in a public notice… a minimum of 60 days for public comment.”  Notice that there is no consequence or change that can happen due to the public comment; no mention of the data after comment time NOT being shared.

Now, let’s just reason together about this bill, and its facts.

The title is its own clue:  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking.  The bill is a punch in the gut to privacy and representative governance.  Evidence holders (bureaucrat councils) become the new policymakers. Where does evidence-based policymaking put power?  In the hands of whoever holds the evidence– not with We, the People.  Think about it:  policymaking will be done by those who hold the evidence, not by those from whom evidence has been collected.  Citizens are demoted to being data, and decisions will be made by those unelected policymakers who frame and interpret that data.  And this is a foundational bill;  more of the same is coming.

Do the “algebra” inside the bill.  (You have to solve for X, excavating definitions and then inserting them where the word surfaces).  Doing so shows the word-gaming going on to hide the power grab of this bill, with power going away from individuals and into the hands of a huge new system, not managed by the elected representatives.

If you’ve skimmed the bill, you might be thinking:  “The bill does include one privacy officer in the 23 officer federal board that will run the nationwide system, and it does mention privacy and confidentiality.”

Friends, it’s a game of words.

Only a fool would believe lip service about privacy that tinsels a bill, while it mandates so much authority and access to data for agents and agencies.  Please remember three things:

  • There is information that MUST stay secret, for reasons of national security and for individual Constitutional privacy rights.
  • If this bill were legitimate, such information would not only be clearly forbidden from being shared, but also nobody would be given power to share that information, ever.
  • This bill does not clearly forbid sharing of identifiable information, and, for certain agencies and agents, power exists to share it.

A person cannot serve opposing masters (Matthew 6:24) and a bill’s purposes cannot be traveling in two opposite directions at the same time.  This bill wants you to believe that a bird can simultaneously fly north and south.  While the “pledge of confidentiality” words pull one way, the data-sucking mandates of the bill pull the other way. The data-sharing “shall” mandates in this bill prevail, especially since the privacy-mentioning lines are weak and loop-hole-y.

The bill is grievous– indefensible.  The bill’s promoters are (whether they know it or not) real enemies to liberty. They (the CEP) deliberately  hid the truth from the public about this bill, and have done so for two years.   

They are obsessed with gathering data –at any cost.

The obsession may stem from sincere intentions about how data collecting might help society, but look at the cost.  It’s federal creation of a system (using pre-existing local databases) to create one river of citizens’ data– all mined by mandate, without informed consent of the individuals being data-mined.  We, the People under this bill’s full implementation will soon become prisoners of intimidation, cowering under lockstep policymaking, instead of directing our own government.

Data is not the enemy.  Data can be used for good or ill.  But individual rights will always matter more than efficiency.

As Jane Robbins pointed out to Congress:  “The problem arises when the subjects of the research and analysis are human beings [with rights!]  … The analyses contemplated by the commission go further than merely sharing discrete data points… they involve creating new information about individuals via matching data, drawing conclusions, and making predictions about those individuals, so in essence, the government would have information about a citizen even he or she doesn’t have.

Last year, I called Trey Gowdy’s office and talked with a staffer there, trying to understand why this patriot would promote the FEPA bill.  The staffer said that because veterans are suffering, due to corruption in their hospital systems and other systems, Trey Gowdy wanted to support them with more accountability by federal agencies to Congress.  The problem with this angle is that Congress is just one more entity that has to request access to all this federal data.  Creating this huge data mining system is not going to solve all the problems of corruption and mismanagement, and in the process of trying, it will harm liberty and privacy, or set up a system that can do so!

The moment is now.  What happens next?

If President Trump vetoes this bill, he sides with America’s right to privacy, as he promised he would on the campaign trail.  If he signs the bill into law, he sides with Big Control Via Big Data, as the Chinese government does.

Is that decision really clear to him?

Dear President, and Dear Congress, please take a second look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plead for President Trump to Veto HR 4174   5 comments

Even though Americans cannot call the White House today (the answering machine says it’s due to the shutdown) we can tweet @POTUS @WhiteHouse @RealDonaldTrump —or send an email. (Scroll to the bottom of this article for easy contact links).

Please alert (plead with) President Trump to veto this already passed bill, HR 4174, that Congress passed WITHOUT a hearing, so stealthily, during the Christmas break when supposedly none of us are paying attention.

—Except that some are!  Like the barking dogs who sent the alarm down the valley to alert others that Cruella DeVil was doing her evil, please join us and be a barking dog today.

If President Trump gets this message, he can veto.

Word of mouth, person to person, tends to be stronger than marketing initiatives.

Even if Trump doesn’t veto in time, Americans need to become aware quickly about what this bill will do. So bark!

HR 4174 doesn’t promote informed consent by individuals for agencies taking personally identifiable information for “sharing.” It promotes data sharing across federal agencies and between state and federal entities. HR 4174 will not make America great again! It will make America more like communist China, less like the America of liberty and justice for all, because its whole point is to collect EVIDENCE on you and me, and to create evidence-based policies, based on one-size-fits-all, federal moral values.

Do you want to give your own and your child’s and your neighbor’s privacy away —to public-private research partnerships, whom you never elected and cannot fire?  Do you want all agencies to alter their databases to make them all interoperable and therefore much more in danger of huge scale hacking?!

This bill comes from the CEP (Commission for Evidence Based Policy) which formed thanks to Patty Murray, Paul Ryan and Obama a few years ago with a mission to consolidate ALL data of ALL Americans from ALL sources into one “central clearinghouse”.

Now, the fact sheet on the bill denies that it’s creating a new, central, federal data repository.  This is on the surface of the words, true.  But linking thousands of federal and state agencies’ data interoperably IS creating a new system that actually operates as a new federal repository— of data not given by individual informed consent. That’s flat out theft— especially in the context of the CEP’s history and stated goals (such as getting rid of protective student unit record bans).

The title of the commission, and of this bill, sounds innocuous. Evidence based policy making.  But even back when the CEP was first organized, even though it came in part from Republican Paul Ryan, I was in full panic mode, and wrote about CEP’s goals and meetings, a lot. Search this blog.

Now the CEP’s privacy dismissing plot is to become US law (unless we see a veto from President Trump).

People won’t be able to ignore its effects.

When ALL data from ALL sources gets combined (for research purposes only, they promise us) into the de facto central clearinghouse, freedom can quickly go away.

The CEP wants access for officials and researchers to ALL DATA.  This is not anonymous data, but Pii (Personally Identifiable Information) on children and adults from everywhere—every US school, every test and tech based report or assignment, data from every document held by public private partnerships including preschools, hospitals, foster families, the social security department, criminal justice departments, both state and federal; the IRS, the CIA, the FBI, the EPA, the TSA, student loans, colleges, universities, including private corporations in public private partnerships, and much much more. When personal data is accessible to a “researcher” or bureaucrat, whether a legitimate policy maker or a nefarious hack, without YOUR informed consent, that’s very, very, exceptionally bad news.

Without revisiting too many historical CEP conference details —you can read those by searching CEP on this blog— just let me share one telling fact that has always stuck out in my mind…

(And yes, this is an appropriate time to be freaking out and taking action)—

This I can not forget:

One of the top dogs at the CEP said— during one of the endless, hours-long conferences that CEP held— that the CEP mustn’t  act too FAST in its research-based enthusiasm to take over Americans’ data. That, he said, would be “RIPPING OFF the band-aid” (of privacy)  from the American people. (Too obvious! Someone might notice.)

Well, some of us do notice.  President Trump, please notice!

Veto. Veto. Veto.

 

——

 

Here’s Dr. Effrem’s article for more information:

https://townhall.com/columnists/kareneffrem/2018/12/28/lameduck-congress-plays-grinch-to-citizens-by-passing-antiprivacy-database-bill-n2538151

 

ACTION:

Please tweet @POTUS @WhiteHouse @RealDonaldTrump to ask Pres. Trump to veto this bill.
The switchboard is not taking calls, but you can call your local congressional representative in-state, and send an email to Trump at www.whitehouse.gov/contact.
Please also send an email to Rep. Hice thanking him for his wisdom and courage in voting no. https://hice.house.gov/contact/

 


 

USBA Joins USDOE in Trying to Take Away Families’ Freedom to #OPTOUT: Common Core RISE same as Common Core SAGE   8 comments

Educational freedom needs defending.  Children need defending.  Parental rights need defending.

As its new legislative priority, the USBA lobby has set this bullying doozy:  forcing all students to take the Common Core tests and getting rid of the parental legal power to opt a child out of taking the tests, for any reason.

The Lehi Free Press reported that USBA passed a motion: “…every student that receives the benefit of state-funded education should participate in state created end-of-year assessments…”  While students are taught not to bully others,  the state may set the example of bullying both students and parents with this new priority.

Meanwhile, the state is also trying to convince parents and teachers that the much-hated Common Core SAGE tests are gone, so we should have no reason to opt out; trust the new Common Core RISE tests, they say.

This USOE video promoting Utah’s new, Common Core RISE test, which will replace Utah’s Common Core SAGE test for most grades, can do nothing to appease unhappy parents and teachers, because RISE is so similar to SAGE.  The film praises the things it shared in common with the SAGE test.  And that is like praising the rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Watching the promo film, I felt sad as lovely teachers, with beautiful things to say, each avoided speaking directly about the dark issues of the Common Core tests. The  issues with SAGE testing that caused about 10% of all Utah parents to opt their children out of the tests, are STILL THERE in the test called RISE.

If you watch the film to the end and are still wondering, “What specifically are these interviewees praising?  And what’s improved with RISE over SAGE?!” — just go to the Utah State Office of Education’s “Frequently Asked Questions” link.  It confirms that there’s no real difference, despite what the film implies.

Wendy Hart of Utah’s largest school district, Alpine District, has said of RISE, “It’s like saying that the city got a new library– because they replaced the catalog software.  But the building, the books and the patrons are the same.”

State Board members, local board members, and Utah teachers who oppose RISE (as they opposed SAGE) were of course not invited to participate in the filming of this taxpayer funded, RISE-promo film.

The facts are that as with SAGE, with RISE:  parents are still not in the loop, the tests are still secretive, the tests are still not local, are not coming from teachers of these students; the tests are still founded on controversial Common Core standards, not local charter standards or Utah-built standards, and the tests are still collecting academic and nonacademic data to share with corporate, federal and state entities (not just with the  teachers, as the film implies).   https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/04be9c35-71ea-41e2-8a78-2dc39195ad6f

The initiative to try to get Utahns to embrace RISE illustrates the new bullying hierarchy: the federal government is strong-arming the state government via ESSA, and so the state now has decided to strong-arm parents, asking them to strong-arm the students.

The RISE test promo-film is step one toward forcing the kids.  But the story really began with federal ESSA.  For backstory, read Utah State School Board member Michelle Boulter’s article at her campaign website, and Autumn Cook’s article published by The Federalist.  The Federalist article by Autumn Cook details the federal mandating drive for tests, that may soon quash Utah’s rights to opt children out of tests for any reason.  She raises many interesting questions, including this one: “Utah’s hightest opt-out rates occur among economically advantaged, non-minority student populations with highly involved parents… so will this agreement direct Title 1 money away from schools with higher financial needs and toward well-to-do schools with high opt out rates?  And what form with federal remediation of non-compliant local schools take?”

At stake are the following freedoms:  academic freedom within Utah schools; the freedom for a parent to opt a student out of testing– for any reason; freedom for a school to follow its own, foundational education charter (rather than veering toward new, test-centric curriculum– to avoid being labeled a failing school) the freedom for a school not to pressure students and parents to take Common Core tests, the freedom for schools to actually be different from one another; the freedom for parents or elected representatives, not the federal government, to determine which schools “need” remediation.

Please write or call your school boards, state board members (at Board@schools.utah.gov) and legislators:  https://le.utah.gov  

Tell them that you expect them to protect children from bullying at any level, and that you expect them to defend academic freedom, school freedom, parental rights, and student’s rights.

 

 

Will Utah Quash Families’ Opt-Out Rights?   4 comments

Many tens of thousands of public school students, whose parents regularly opt out of Common Core testing, may lose the right to do so.

When federal ESSA passed in 2015, it claimed veto power for the federal education department– over every state’s educational plan.  Utah humbly asked the feds for a waiver, so that Utah would remain free to opt out of federally promoted tests. (Until this time, Utahns were unquestionably protected by state law that claims primary authority for parents, with schools/state in a supporting role.) The federal department said no to Utah’s waiver request.

So, state school board and legislators are in a pickle:  will they honor state law and protect parental rights, or honor federal ESSA’s unconstitutional veto power, and force all parents to force all children to take Common Core tests?

The state school board is divided on this question.  –That’s interesting, since the Utah board was not even permitted by the state superintendent to vote on our new plan –which the federal government has now vetoed.

 

Michelle Boulter, Utah State School Board

 

Michelle Boulter of the state board says:

“…In short, the public was not given the chance to weigh in on the ESSA plan because those who were elected to represent them were never given the chance to see or to vote on the new plan. Instead, administration and a single board member presented a plan to the federal DOE that puts it in direct conflict with Utah State lawa state law which prohibits the violation of natural parental rights. In the end, after being denied repeatedly, Utah became fully compliant with Federal dictates, setting aside the promise of the state’s ability to forge their own educational path.

And now, thanks to further ESSA provisions, Utah must submit to federal “auditing” – an invasive probe to determine why so many parents are opting out of assessments, and thereby placing non-compliant schools in a status of “failure” or “remediation”, to be put under the purview of federal overseers.

… exactly what is the paltry amount of funding Utah receives from the federal government? Unfortunately, the answer will shock and anger you: a whopping 6% of our entire educational budget for the 2017-2018 school year. Of that, the amount Utah stands to lose if it stops playing this ridiculous game of “Mother May I” is significantly less (around 2% of Utah’s educational budget).

Utah parents, we are literally selling our birthright as the natural guardians of our children for a mess of pottage – and a pathetically meager mess of pottage at that. And why is the amount so small? Because any dollar that is sent to Washington naturally shrinks as it goes through its laundered process of paying the salaries, benefits, and pensions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. That dollar shrinks to practically nothing before it ever comes back to the states…

…This isn’t about opting out of a test; this is about where we believe our rights come from. Either our rights come from God or man. It should be unacceptable to all Utah parents that we must ask permission of the federal government concerning our children. I urge parents to contact their state legislators requiring them to come up with that 6% – by spending less somewhere else – so we can take back our children’s education. Please contact your State Board members [ Board@schools.utah.gov  ] and let them know that you expect them to defend your parental rights. This is an election year and we the people hold the power.”

After reading state school board member Michelle Boulter’s letter and local Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s comments on the subject, I wrote to the state board. Kathleen Riebe wrote back. Here is that exchange.  –And here is the email if you want to write, too: Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Letter one: 

Dear Board,
ESSA is pressuring Utah to subvert our state laws and parental rights. Please don’t do it.
I agree with state school board member Michelle Boulter, who wrote:
https://electmichelleboulter.com/2018/08/08/the-state-of-utah-is-negotiating-away-parental-rights
Similarly, ASD school board Wendy Hart said to the state board:
http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/08/essa-opt-out-denial-from-feds-my.html

Wendy Hart, Alpine District School Board

It’s a terrible idea to pit teachers against parents who opt out of Common core tests.  Caving to federal demands that the state quash testing opt outs does that.
The problem isn’t the parents opting kids out of Common Core testing, nor can we blame teachers/schools who, fearing mislabeling due to low scores resulting from opt outs, might pressure parents to opt in.
The problem is office of education bureaucrats who mindlessly swallow unconstitutional suggestions made by the federal DOE, and who misadvise state school board members, without respect for principles of local control, telling them to nod and sign.
Listen to the wisdom of elected officials who have spoken clearly on the ESSA situation: Michelle Boulter and Wendy Hart. They point out that we can and must protect the state’s liberties as well as relationships between parents and teachers.
As an opting-out parent  of children in public schools, and as a certified Utah teacher, thank you.
Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove
Response one:

Thank you for your concern.

As a parent, teacher and a taxpayer, I appreciate that my students have an opportunity to display their knowledge and that they were taught the content required. About 90% of our families share my feelings.

Transparency and accountability are major concerns of my constituents.

USBE has worked hard to find a solution with the federal government.  The board will follow the laws and work with the legislature to seek new funding to ensure the best opportunities for all our students.

Kathleen Riebe M.Ed.

State School Board Member

District 10

801-599-5753

Letter two:

Dear Kathleen,
Thank you for responding.
There are over 650,000 enrolled public school students in the state of Utah. If about 90 percent are opting to participate in Common Core testing, that leaves about 65,000 students, and 130,000 parents, who are opting out. That’s no small potatoes.
Does it feel right to you to eliminate the authority and conscience of 195,000  Utahns, especially considering the fact that Utah law places primary authority to parents, with the state/schools in a secondary, supporting role.
They’re opting out for a plethora of very valid, very important reasons. Some kids become anxious and depressed to the point of suicidal behaviors due to high-pressure testing. Some parents don’t approve of the secretive nature of the tests, and of the tests’ never having been tested or validated independently. Some parents oppose psychometric evaluation embedded in academic tests. Some parents recognize that these tests pressure schools and teachers, even against their school charters and their professional judgment, to redefine their curriculum and teaching traditions.
I implore you to support the rights of these people and the Utah law that puts parental / family authority first in education.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey

UT Senate Passes Ed-Dictatorship Bill; Will House Agree?   7 comments

Update 3/8/16  – Friends in Ohio and Florida have confirmed that this exact bill (elimination of elected school boards) is being pushed there.  Watch the “greedom-over-freedom” ed-tech lobbies, such as Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, Global Silicon Valley investment group, Bill Gates,  Marc Tucker’s National Center on Education and Economy, and Pearson, whose investments benefit  from the streamlined elimination of voter input.

The bill in Utah has passed the Senate and is being considered in the House with a (pointless) amendment that would add to the appointed dictator-superintendent, an appointed-not-elected board.  Several House members are opposing the bill right now.  One rare senator who voted against the bill said in an email, “I couldn’t believe this may pass with no input – I like that the voters will determine if this goes to the ballot, but it’s a lot to explain to voters.”  Yes, it is!

I’ve added contact emails for senators and representatives below.

 


 

SJR16, Senator Jim Dabakis’ bill to abolish the voice of voters in Utah education by abolishing the elected State School Board, passed the Utah Senate this week.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune states: “Dabakis argued that the change would empower voters”.

Dabakis’ claim is a ridiculous lie.  The very short bill  (SJR16) has only two elements, as it slashes at the Utah Constitution:  1) to eliminate the elected board, and 2) to have no election and no representation at all.  A solitary, governor-appointed superintendent would supervise all of Utah’s education system by him/herself.

This bill puts voters dead last, of course– because no vote will ever select the governor-appointed, solo-flying, unremovable superintendent.

An email from a Utah legislator who supports SJR16 argued:  “Think of the current state board as a school bus with fifteen different steering wheels all driving in different directions….if one person is in charge, it’s harder for them to pass the buck.”

If he applied that reasoning to his own seat in the legislature, then there should be no legislature, but a king instead.  And if the Senate gets the House to agree, and if the voters agree, then there will be an Education King of Utah.

It is up to the members of the House of Representatives to kill this awful bill  that the Senate has approved.  If they don’t, voters get one chance to end it. But will they?  Will we all take the time to look at the history surrounding this long-planned effort?

This bill may have been sponsored by the notorious Democrat Jim Dabakis, but he didn’t come up with the idea of eliminating elected school boards.  Blatant enemies of local control came up with the idea years ago and their ploy is ticking along even better than they’d planned.   See the GSV’s graphic below.  The “battle plan” of this investment company started with Common Core, and about ten years later, it planned to eliminate school boards. Utah’s leadership is listening to and acting on these plans —because of investment.  Because dollars speak more loudly than children do.

Look at two movers and shakers from outside Utah, who are shaping Utah policy in this direction.  One is a socialist and the other is a corporate hog.  Both are instrumental in changing Utah’s formerly representative system:  Meet Marc Tucker and Deborah Quazzo.

 

 

MARC TUCKER, THE SOCIALIST

To know Marc Tucker, simply peruse his report on Governing American Education, which says: “And the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education:  local control... much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.

You can also study his infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, which was made part of the U.S. Congressional Record. The letter outlined Tucker’s vision of a communist-styled pipeline of education and workforce that would control individuals from early childhood through life.

It is a vision indistinguishable from Communism.  It is a vision that Dabakis’ SJR16 consummates.

Tucker was invited recently by Utah legislators to speak in Utah at a statewide joint legislative/school board/USOE conference held at Southern Utah University.  He’s also spoken at countless national venues, some of which are radical left-wing institutions: the Annenberg Institute, the Public Education and Business Coalition, the Aspen Institute, and state education conferences in various states.

 

 

DEBORAH QUAZZO, CORPORATE HOG

Less that a year ago, Salt Lake City sponsored an education-tech conference  co-hosted by GSV Advisors (an investment group) with Arizona State University.   Bill Gates paid for it, of course.  Former USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan was a featured speaker.  Ms. Deborah Quazzo,  founder and CEO of GSV Advisors, headed the conference, and was listed as “a prolific angel investor” who “leverages technology in the global $4.9 trillion education and talent technology sectors”.

She charged people $2,795 per person to attend this conference– just to walk in the door.

Above, you saw the graphic of Quazzo’s “Strategic Battle Plan” for GSV (and Utah politics).  Keep in mind that Quazzo is an investor, not an educator.  Her battle plan has nothing to do with what you or I as teachers and parents know is best for our children.  It is her openly, repeatedly stated desire to eliminate  local control by eliminating elected school boards.  

[As an aside, here is some context:  Forbes christened Salt Lake City the “tech mecca” of America, so now, ambitious, hungry eyes are on Utah’s ed-tech industry and school system and taxpayers’ votes.  Those hungry eyes care deeply about whether Dabakis’ bill passes.  From their point of view, voters and teachers and parents and children are a necessary annoyance, but they feel that our elected school boards are not: so, if  Utah eliminates “messy” debate and gets rid of the old time-consuming elected representation business; if Utah streamlines decision-making for the entire state, we will have created an ed-tech dictatorship.  It’s so very profitable to those (inside and outside Utah) who invest in the Common Core-aligned education system that Tucker and Quazzo promote.  If it’s hard to wrap your brain around socialism now bedding with corporate America, or of socialism taking over the Utah legislature, just revisit how this “elimination of boards” policy –espoused by the GSV investment group that is repeatedly in our state preaching to legislators– perfectly matches the communist “human capital pipeline” agenda of Marc Tucker.  Utah’s not utterly clueless, either; remember that Tucker and Quazzo were invited to this state to advise the once conservative legislators and businesses of Utah.]

How many mecca attendees last spring had read Quazzo’s creepy GSV document, entitled American Revolution 2.0, which echoes Tucker’s call for the removal of local control  and local school boards?  How many agree with it now– other than virtually the entire Utah Senate?  The GSV calls for the promotion of Common Core and the elimination of elected school boards.  What a strange coincidence that the Tucker-featured SUU conference also called for the same things.

In the GSV document’s “Strategic Battle Plan” Quazzo and company say:  “We eliminate locally elected school boards, recognizing that the process by which they are elected doesn’t correspond with either strategic planning or longer term results.”

Strategic planning for whom?  Longer term results for whom?   WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?  And what about the taxpaying voters who are to foot the bill without a voice in it?  What about the reasons we fought the American Revolution 1.0?  We wanted representation.  We wanted a voice in our own lives, not dicatorship by Mother England.  Do we want a dictatorship led by Mother Quazzo or Mother Dickson or Father Gates?

This bill of Dabakis, the consummation of Quazzo’s  and Tucker’s long-term scheming, must be stopped.

Please, please, please contact the Utah House of Representatives immediately.

Immediately!

https://house.utah.gov/house-members/

UTAH STATE REPS:

bgreene@le.utah.gov
mroberts@le.utah.gov
mike@utahlegalteam.com
anderegg.jake@gmail.com
ssandall@le.utah.gov
jeffersonrmoss@gmail.com
jeffersonmoss@le.utah.gov
valpotter@le.utah.gov
curtwebb@le.utah.gov
eredd@le.utah.gov
justinfawson@le.utah.gov
corymaloy@le.utah.gov
sbarlow@le.utah.gov
gfroerer@le.utah.gov
vpeterson@le.utah.gov
jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
dpitcher@utah.gov
kmiles@le.utah.gov
pray@utah.gov
mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
karilisonbee@le.utah.gov
bradwilson@utah.gov
stevehandy@utah.gov
thawkes@le.utah.gov
beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
dougsagers@le.utah.gov
rayward@le.utah.gov
sduckworth@le.utah.gov
shollins@le.utah.gov
rchouck@le.utah.gov
jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
angelaromero@le.utah.gov
briansking@le.utah.gov
leeperry@le.utah.gov
mikewinder@le.utah.gov
lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
elizabethweight@le.utah.gov
chall@le.utah.gov
kkwan@le.utah.gov
parent@le.utah.gov
markwheatley@le.utah.gov
csmoss@le.utah.gov
ehutchings@utah.gov
jdunnigan@utah.gov
lhemingway@le.utah.gov
kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
cacton@le.utah.gov
seliason@le.utah.gov
mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
kstratton@le.utah.gov
rspendlove@le.utah.gov
greghughes@le.utah.gov
jknotwell@le.utah.gov
susanpulsipher@le.utah.gov
loganwilde@le.utah.gov
tquinn@le.utah.gov
scottchew@le.utah.gov
kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
derrinowens@le.utah.gov
brad@braddaw.com
keithgrover@le.utah.gov
tseegmiller@le.utah.gov
adamrobertson@le.utah.gov
normthurston64@gmail.com
fgibson@le.utah.gov,
mnelson@le.utah.gov
christinewatkins@le.utah.gov
carlalbrecht@le.utah.gov
blast@le.utah.gov
jwestwood@le.utah.gov
vlsnow@le.utah.gov
mnoel@kanab.net
wbrooks@le.utah.gov

UTAH STATE SENATORS:

lescamilla@le.utah.gov dipson@le.utah.gov,
evickers@le.utah.gov,
dhinkins@le.utah.gov
kvantassell@le.utah.gov
lhillyard@le.utah.gov
rokerlund@le.utah.gov
tweiler@le.utah.gov
jsadams@le.utah.gov
hstephenson@le.utah.gov,
jwstevenson@le.utah.gov,
achristensen@le.utah.gov,
gbuxton@le.utah.gov
pknudson@le.utah.gov, curt@cbramble.com
mdayton@le.utah.gov
janderegg@le.utah.gov
dthatcher@le.utah.gov
dhemmert@le.utah.gov
wniederhauser@le.utah.gov
lfillmore@le.utah.gov
bzehnder@le.utah.gov
dhenderson@le.utah.gov
wharper@le.utah.gov
kmayne@le.utah.gov
jiwamoto@le.utah.gov
gdavis@le.utah.gov

–and our endangered state school board:

Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Video: Jane Robbins’ Testimony to Congress: On Consent and Student Data Privacy   4 comments

On January 30, 2018, Jane Robbins, a lawyer with the American Principles Project, testified to Congress’s House Education and Workforce Committee.  She strongly opposed the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-based Policy (CEP) that there should be an expansion of federal agencies’ access to data collected on U.S. citizens, or that there should be permission given to researchers to access that data without citizens’ consent.

Robbins pointed out the immorality of the CEP’s recommendations and patiently explained the difference between researching objects and researching human beings.   Some highlights of her testimony have been transcribed below.

 

Robbins said (see minute 39:30):

“…The problem arises when the subjects of the research and analysis are human beings. Each American citizen is endowed with personal dignity and autonomy and therefore deserves respect and deference concerning his or her own personal data.

Allowing the government to vacuum mountains of such data and employ it for whatever purposes it deems useful, without the citizens’ consent or in some cases even his knowledge, conflicts deeply with this truth about the dignity of persons. Bear in mind that the analyses contemplated by the commission go further than merely sharing discrete data point among agencies, they involve creating new information about individuals via matching data, drawing conclusions, and making predictions about those individuals; so in essence the government would have information about a citizen even he or she doesn’t have.

Our founding principle, which enshrine consent of the governed, dictate that a citizen’s data belong to him rather than to the government. If the government or its allied researchers want to use it for purposes other than those for which it was submitted, they should get consent; and in the case or pre-k through 12, students’ parental consent. That’s how things should work in a free society.

Let’s consider a few specific problems. The commission’s recommendations to improve evidence building, while well intentions and couched in reasonable language, sometimes fails to realize that data turned over by citizens for one purpose can be misused for others.

It is always assumed that the data will be used in benevolent ways for the good of the individual who provides it. But especially with respect to the enormous scope of pre-k through college education data, that simply isn’t true. Literally everything can be linked to education. Data analysis might study the connection between one’s education and his employment, or his health, or his housing choices or the number of children he has, or his political activity, or whether his suspension from school in sixth grade foreshadows a life of crime.

Education technology innovators brag that predictive algorithms can be created and those algorithms could be used to steer students along some paths or close off others. And much of this education data is extraordinarily sensitive. For example, data about children’s attitudes, mindsets, and dispositions are currently being compiled, unfortunately, as part of so-called social-emotional learning (SEL). Do we really want this kind of sensitive data to be made more easily accessible for evidence building to which we as parents have not consented? The commission recommends that all this data be disclosed only with approval to authorized persons, but we should ask approval of whom, authorized by whom. There are myriad examples of government employees violating statute or policy by misusing or wrongfully disclosing data, and even if the custodians only have good intentions, what they consider appropriate use or disclosure may conflict diametrically with what the affected citizen considers appropriate.  Again, this illustrates the necessity for consent.

 We should take care to recognize the difference between two concepts that are somewhat conflated in the Commission’s report. Data security means whether the government can keep data systems from being breached, which the federal government in too many cases has been unable to do. Data privacy refers to whether the government has any right to collect and maintain such data in the first place.

The federal privacy act set out the fair information principle of data minimization, which is designed to increase security by increasing privacy: a hacker can’t steal what isn’t there.

Another problem with the evidence-building mindset is that it assumes an omniscient government will make better decisions than individuals can themselves. But what these analysis are likely to turn up are correlations between some facts and others; and correlations do not equal causations. So, for example, we might end up designing official government policies based on flawed assumptions to nudge students into pursuing studies or careers that they wouldn’t choose for themselves.

Human beings are not interchangeable. Our country has thrived for centuries without this kind of social engineering and it is deeply dangerous to change that now.

In closing, I reiterate my respect for the value of unbiased research as the foundation for policymaking, but speaking for the millions of parents with whom we work in various states whose concerns about education policy and data have been minimized by various levels of government for years, I urge you to maintain the protections against treating their children as subjects for research without their consent. This might happen in someplace such as China, but it should not happen here...”

 

 

 

If you don’t want to search through the entire hearing, you can just see Jane Robbins’ portion here:

 

 

 God bless Jane.

 

 

 

Open Letter to Utah Leadership: On Informed Consent in Science Education   5 comments

Screenshot_2017-12-30-11-26-28

Dear Superintendent Dickson, State School Board, Diana Suddreth, Rich Nye, Governor Herbert, Tami Pyfer, and Legislators,

To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?

I’m writing to clarify whether Utah has or has not adopted controversial, common science standards (NGSS) and whether we are using those non-approved standards in current or future tests for K-12 children, without proper vetting and fully informed public consent.

I’m trying to reconcile promises –made by multiple superintendents to the public and to the legislature, that common science standards would never happen because of political and “philosophical differences”– with the attached PDF from the board’s website. It says that a science MOU in common with other states is set to be approved this Wednesday.

Utah’s voting taxpayers strongly oppose common, nationalized standards; some because of content, and some because  nationalized programs work against intellectual freedom and local control.

Anti-Common standards sentiment was powerfully illustrated in Utah’s last gubernatorial election, when Governor Herbert was booed at conventions for his promotion of Common Core, and was beaten when GOP delegates voted. He very narrowly won the final vote after changing his speeches with sudden, fervent promises to repeal the Common Core.

Those promises lacked integrity and evaporated after the election, but the illustration makes clear that Utahans want the common standards gone.

It can be alarming when superintendents make promises that common science standards will never take over here, when no vote to approve common NGSS standards has happened, and yet the public can see that someone is furtively, gradually, replacing Utah’s traditional science standards with controversial NGSS standards.

On the Board’s PDF, we see that Utah is set to approve use of a common test bank for students’ science tests. Since tests are based on standards, and since Utah’s official policy is that we have our own science standards, not the common NGSS standards, how can Utah share a test bank with many other states?  Without using the common science standards that they use, or without making those states use our science standards, it doesn’t make sense.

Please clarify.

What makes sense, but won’t likely be admitted, is that the current Superintendent and her co-workers personally buy into the philosophies of the ed tech elite, inspired by the Pearson- Microsoft-Gates cartel. They admire Gates and NGSS.  Unlike many of their fellow Utahns, they love the common standards, so they are using their positions of power to guide the state in the direction to which they personally subscribe, against the will and without the knowledge of the people.

Shouldn’t these moves be transparent to the public?  It seems our top education officers give lip service to local control, but in actions, create the very opposite.

Students and taxpayers who value liberty and classic education standards deserve informed consent and open debate, prior to Utah’s use of any kind of additional common standards.

“Consent of the governed” is a crucial founding concept, one of the best phrases ever penned, one I hope this group will ponder before moving further away from local control.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove

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