Archive for the ‘Teachers’ Rights’ Category

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.

 

 

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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   3 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

Big Data Control Freaks, Don’t Tread on Me #StopFEPA #STOPCTA #StopKGIS #StopKBYG   2 comments

How much bleeding out of freedom do we need before we take action –to demand from  Congress an end to the privacy erosion that’s going on in multiple big-data bills right now?  (To track what’s going on in Congress, click here).

Taking liberty, including privacy, for granted is a lazy, dangerous luxury.   We suppose that freedom is as forthcoming as sunlight, but Constitutional norms of freedom are the new kid on the block historically, and both intentionally and unintentionally, Congress –and initiatives of the U.N. promoted in our Congress, are running away with our rights today.

So what?  Still not moved?  Please, then, take a moment for the real “why” factor:  remember what life looks like when freedom gets fully eroded.

Remember the 1600’s  – People who read the Bible in England were burned at the stake  by their own government.  This was a catalyst for pilgrims to leave, to establish this country’s liberty.

How many of those pilgrims would have made it to Plymouth Rock alive, if the English government had had a data sharing system like the one proposed in S.2046 (FEPA) where every government agency can and must share data on individuals, with every other government agency?

Remember the 1930’s – Innocent millions in the Soviet Union were intentionally starved to death under Stalin’s communism.  There were no Constitutional norms for those people to point to, before their lands were eminent-domained (collectivized) by their governments, prior to the extermination of the people.  I recommend reading Execution by Hunger, by a survivor of that time.

Remember the 1940’s – Throughout Europe, led by Hitler, governments killed millions in  state-sponsored death.  The yellow star that Jews were forced to sew onto their clothes to mark them as enemies of the government would be much more easily removed than digitized social security numbers, names and family information that FEPA and CTA  will hand to the federal government through individuals’ data collected by FAFSA, SLDS, IRS, Census, statistical agencies, and more.  Soon after this, in 1948, George Orwell wrote 1984, which I wish everyone voting for big data bills in Congress would read.

Remember 1958-62 – In China, about 45 million were killed under Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” initiative.  You can learn a lot about the erosion of freedom by reading the remarkable history Life and Death in Shanghai, written by a survivor of that murderous time.

(And today, in China, there is no privacy and no digital freedom:  everyone is inventoried, everyone is watched;  everyone is punished or rewarded according to the government’s value system.)

Remember the 1970’s – In Cambodia, millions were killed by Khmer Rouge communists who had control of Cambodia.  The government, unleashed from any Constitutional principles, turned on its own citizens in a way that was not predictable.

Remember the 1990’s – In Rwanda, Africa, close to a million were killed by their government.  (Rwandan I.D. cards had people’s ethnic groups listed on them, making it easy for the government’s military, with lists of ethnic data, to find individuals labeled “government opponents”.  Note:  this is historical fact, not fake news, not fearmongering.  This is an example of modern, governmentally-organized,  data-mining-related, genocide.

All of these abominations  happened because:

1) government had amassed power, including at least some personal data about victims, upon which to base punishing decisions, and:

2) leaders were evil.

But the dead!  These were real people– with nicknames, with holidays, with faith, with families.  They might have had friends in the government whom they liked, whom they trusted– but without a Constitutional fortress in place, good intentions are nothing.

Individuals can’t punish or kill others unless they amass power over them.  Why is eroding freedom not a clear and present danger to Congress?   Why do we keep writing big-data bills and passing them into law, which authorize more and more power of one set of individuals over others?  I have two theories: 1) big money influencing big votes and  2) a pop culture that celebrates conformity, dependency, obsession, victimhood and socialism instead of self-reliance, choice and accountability, virtue, individual worth and freedom.

Ask yourselves this, Big Money and Pop Culture:  “Are control freaks, bullies, and liars things of the past, things of distant places?  Is communism nowadays going to lead to happiness and wealth, even though in the past it has always led to piles of dead bodies?  Is there nothing historically sacred to defend?”

The thing that the man or woman in the concentration camp or the killing field would have done anything to reclaim– freedom– is without question dying as bills authorize unelected bureaucrats and unelected researchers full access to your personal data.  It seems that congressional bills value constitutional principles (that would have kept  control freaks and bullies in check) like used kleenex.

Is it too big a leap for us to say that giving away the average American’s personal power over his or her data is a path toward misery and loss?  I guess so, because so many legislators and citizens  even in supposedly conservative Utah all now sway to the tune of tech-justified, big-data justified socialism — the same Americans who cry patriotic tears when they see the flag pass by in a parade and who campaign with, “God Bless America.”  They don’t seem to get it anymore.

It’s not the left wing leading the pack.  Did you know who was involved in big data pushing now?  Trey Gowdy? Orrin Hatch?  Paul Ryan? Marco Rubio?   What was of such great value that it rose above sacred Constitutional principles of CONSENT and privacy and personal liberty, to these supposed conservatives who are pushing the big-data bills?

Meanwhile, patriotic Americans who read these bills and voice their concerns are being ignored or rebutted by Congress.

Names like Jane Robbins, Joy Pullman,  Jakell Sullivan, Cheri Kiesecker,  Lynne Taylor, Peter Greene, Emmett McGroarty, and so many, many, many others are  exposing and challenging the erosion of data privacy and autonomy.  But they aren’t making headlines.  Please read them anyway.

Some of their brand new work is linked or excerpted below, especially concerning these big-data bills:  FEPA – S.2046, Keeping Girls in School Act S.1171, College Transparency Act S.1121, HR 3157 The Student Privacy Protection Act, and Know Before You Go Act of 2017.

JANE ROBBINS

Jane Robbins, at Truth in American Education, writes about FEPA, “Senators, do you want your children’s and your families’ highly sensitive data shared across the federal government without your knowledge and consent, for purposes you never agreed to?  Do you want researchers or private corporations to have access to it?”

Robbins lists the 108 types of data stored in one agency (Dept of Ed, via FAFSA) and asks senators to consider the insanity of opening up all agencies’ data to share with one another and with private “research” entities.  From name and social security number of students, parents and stepparents, to how much money parents spend on food and housing, to the parents’ net worth of investments, the 108 items are only a tip of the data-sharing iceberg.  She asks senators to stop #FEPA (which already passed the House and will soon be up for a Senate vote; read the full bill — S.2046 here.)

JOY PULLMAN

Joy Pullman, at The Federalist, offers “12 Reasons Congress Shouldn’t Make Lifelong Surveillance the Price of Citizenship”:

  1. Personal Data is Private Property
  2. These Bills Kill Informed Consent
  3. Informed Consent is Key to Social Science Ethics
  4. It’s Wrong to Exploit Americans Unable to Object
  5. Kids Do Stupid Things More Often
  6. The Bigger the Database, the Bigger the Bait
  7. Federal Data Security is Awful
  8. Big Data is Prone to Prejudice and Political Manipulation
  9. No Research or Experience Justifies Sweeping Data Collection on Citizens
  10. Government Doesn’t Use Well the Data it Already Has
  11. Data Collection is Not About Improving Education, But Increasing Control
  12. Americans Are Citizens, Not Cattle or Widgets

She concludes here article:  “In the United States, government is supposed to represent and function at the behest of the people, and solely for the protection of our few, enumerated, natural rights. Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are the sovereigns, and government functions at our pleasure. It is supposed to function by our consent and be restrained by invoilable laws and principles that restrain bureaucrats’ plans for our lives. These include the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. National surveillance systems violate all of these.”

Read Joy Pullman’s full article,  here.

 

JAKELL SULLIVAN

 

Jakell Sullivan has been researching and writing for nearly a decade about education reforms and data reforms that harm liberty.  This recent talk, given at an education conference at Agency Based Education, reveals the corporate-government partnershipping strategy to undermine local values, including religious freedom, which necessitates big-data bills to that align schools globally to UN-centric, data-bound values.

 

CHERI KIESECKER

 

 

When Cheri Kiesecker was cited as one who had falsely attacked these big-data bills, and was rebutted in a handout given to Congress from Congressional staffers, you might have known she had hit on truth.  Why would Congressional staff take the time to research and write a rebuttal to a simple mom writing at Missouri Education Watchdog?!  Read her analysis of the big-data bills here.  Read her rebuttal to Congress here.

She wrote, “I am a mom. My special interests are my children.  I write as a parent, because like many parent advocates, blogging is the only (small) way to be heard.  And No.  My concern DOES NOT “arise from a misunderstanding of what the bill does to the personal data that the government already has”…  

MY CONCERN IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS CITIZENS’ AND ESPECIALLY SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN’S PERSONAL DATA, WITHOUT PERMISSION…AND IS EXPANDING ACCESS, ANALYSIS OF THIS DATA, AGAIN WITHOUT PERMISSION.

It’s not your data. Data belongs to the individual.  Data is identity and data is currency.   Collecting someone’s personal data without consent is theft. (When hackers took Equifax data, that was illegal. When the government takes data… no different.)

If you support parental rights, you should not support HR4174 or its sister bill S2046. “

 

Dear Readers:

Like Cheri, Jakell, Joy, Jane and countless others, we can each do one small thing for liberty.  You could talk to your kids or grandkids about the founding of the USA.   You could help a friend register to vote.  You could call your senators and tell them to vote no on each of these big-data bills that DO NOT protect privacy as they claim that they can. Write an email.  Call a radio station talk show.  Write an op-ed.  Do it even though we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle.  (Actually, do it especially because we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle, which is when the dark side of Congress always counts on not being watched as it passes bad bills.)

I’m asking you to sacrifice a little time or maybe just your own insecurity, to join the writers and speakers whom I’ve highlighted above, to make your own voice heard, for liberty’s sake.  Here is that number to the switchboard at Congress:  (202) 224-3121.

Even if we don’t turn the Titanic away from the iceberg, even if freedom keeps eroding away, we can live or die with the failure, knowing that we honestly valued freedom enough to try.

If Many Agree to Participate in Stealing, is it Still Stealing? Stop #FEPA in the Senate: S.2046   5 comments

Knowing that the history of liberty is “the history of the limitation of government power,” I ask you to take action to stop the bills known as FEPA (HR4174/S.2046) and CTA (S.1121).  This post will focus on the first bill, which is already teetering on the edge of passing into law.

FEPA is a pompous euphemism that stands for Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking.  But “evidence based policymaking” means that they’ll redefine data theft and stalking by calling it “evidence-based research”.  Because if agencies and organizations on the state and federal level  participate in the data-looting act together, it doesn’t feel quite like looting or stealing, as it would if just one well-intentioned, evidence-collecting creep stole data by himself.

All the fancy commissions and all the big-data infatuations in the world cannot change a wrong principle into a good one.  I’d love to ask the CEP leaders face to face whether big data is so important that freedom basics should be made obsolete.  Do we no longer worry about having our personal personal power limited– in consequence of personal data being taken?  No big deal?

I used to think that while all Democrats pushed for increased government, all Republicans sought limited government.  Not now:  Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and even Trey Gowdy are supersizing government to empower big-data goals in their current bills– without any informed consent from the individuals whose data will be confiscated.

Representative Paul Ryan’s baby, the 2017 Commmission on Evidence-Based Policy, birthed this uglier baby,  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEPA HR4174)  that passed the U.S. House of Representatives without debate or a roll call vote, this month.

Unless the Senate ditches it next week, which is extremely unlikely, it will become national law.  But do you know what’s emerging in the bill?  Does your senator know?

The news media haven’t covered it, and Congress hasn’t debated it.  In fact, the House of Representatives suspended its rules to pass the House version super quickly, without a normal roll call vote: because it was supposedly so uncontroversial that there was no reason to have a real debate nor a recorded vote.

Yet it is highly controversial to those Americans who are passionate about a thing called human freedom.  We watched and listened to the CEP’s year-long hearings and submitted public comment and read the CEP’s final report.

Unpaid moms at Missouri Education Watchdog and expert lawyers at American Principles Project each recently published important warnings about the FEPA bill.   But proponents of FEPA rebutted those moms and lawyers.  What followed were brilliant, unarguable rebuttals to that rebuttal.  If truth and liberty were prime concerns to Congress, then FEPA would, following the study of these rebuttals, surely be gone.  But no.

 

 

You see, a lot of people are  counting on this particular set of claims to make them wealthy or powerful.

I am having what I wish was only deja vu.

Do you remember another Thanksgiving week, with freedom-harming bills slimeing their secretive way through Congress without debate, while most of us were too busy eating cranberries and turkey to pay attention?  Remember, after the ESSA bill passed, that then-Secretary Duncan boasted about the secretive nature of passing the ESSA bill into law.

He said, “We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed. . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff”.

Now it’s 2017.

Not surprisingly, proponents of FEPA (HR4174/S2046)  say that FEPA is so harmless and uncontroversial as to require zero debate– but in the same week, proponents released a myths-vs-facts sheet to Congressmen, rebutting the controversies outlined by the American Principles Project and by the Missouri Education Watchdog.   Hmm.

Additionally, although the majority of the public commenters who wrote to the CEP said that they were opposed to the data-sharing of student records without consent, FEPA does direct agencies to ignore their concerns.

FEPA says that agencies must report “statutory restrictions to accessing relevant data”–in other words, muggle bureaucrats must find ways to overcome people’s privacy rights.

FEPA gives no provisions for data security, while encouraging and enabling unlimited data swapping between government agencies.

FEPA  creates a “National Secure Data Service” with such extensive data sharing that creation of one central housing agency would be completely redundant.

There is much more.  You can read the bill.

The American Principles Project produced a rebuttal to the rebuttal of FEPA.  I am reposting just a piece of it.

 

RESPONSE TO HOUSE MAJORITY STAFF’S ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF FEPA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Claim: FEPA doesn’t create a centralized data repository.

Rebuttal: FEPA moves toward the recommendation of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (Commission) to create a “National Secure Data Service” by 1) requiring each agency to create an evidence- building plan; 2) requiring the OMB Director to unify those plans across the entire federal government; 3) creating a “federal data catalog” and a “national data inventory”; and 4) requiring various councils to recommend how to vastly increase data linking and sharing among federal agencies, with states, and with public and private research entities.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t authorize any new data collection or data analysis.

Rebuttal: Regardless of whether FEPA expressly authorizes new data collection, it 1) incentivizes agency heads to expand, not maintain or minimize, data collection; 2) creates new sources of data for agencies by allowing unfettered access to other agencies’ data; 3) creates a process whereby public and private organizations can access non-public government data; 4) allows the OMB Director to expand the universe of statistical agencies and units; and 5) allows one person, the OMB director, to decide via post-enactment “guidance” what if any data will be exempt from sharing as too private or confidential.

Claim: FEPA “does not overturn an existing student unit record ban, which prohibits the establishment of a database with data on all students,” so parents need not worry about their children’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Rebuttal: FEPA doesn’t overturn this ban – that will almost certainly come later. But its extensive data-linking and data-sharing mandates create a de facto national database, whereby the data stays “housed” within the collecting agency but can be accessed by all. Title III specifically authorizes data “accessed” by federal agencies to be shared. This will threaten the security of not only the student data already maintained by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), but also the data in the states’ longitudinal data systems.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t repeal CIPSEA but rather strengthens it.

Rebuttal: FEPA strengthens nothing. It merely reiterates the same penalties (fine and jail term) in existence since 2002 that have rarely or never been enforced. Worse, FEPA increases threats to privacy and data security by mandating increased access to confidential data and metadata and encouraging unlimited data-swapping with no provisions for data security.

Claim: FEPA “does not respond to the Commission’s recommendations to repeal any ban on the collection or consolidation of data.”

Rebuttal: FEPA directs agency heads to identify and report “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data . . . ” Because the entire thrust of the bill is to use more and more data for “evidence-building,” the inevitable next step will be to implement the Commission’s recommendation of repealing these pesky statutory obstacles to acquiring “relevant” data.

Claim:  FEPA will make better use of existing data.

Rebuttal:  The federal government has reams of data showing the uselessness or harm of existing programs. When the government continues to fund those programs despite this data (see Head Start and manifestly ineffective programs under ESEA), there’s no reason -none- to assume it will change its behavior with even more data.

 

The following list of contact information is supplied by Missouri Education Watchdog Cheri Kiesecker.  Please don’t just share this on social media; actually call, yourself.  Actually tweet, yourself.  Others may not be doing their part.  Please, do yours and a few extra calls, if you can.

The Senate version of the bill (S2046) has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members.

The message is: vote no.  We don’t want information about private citizens shared at the national level, without any individual consent.

NO on  S.2046   NO on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (FEPA).

(And, coming up soon:  No on S.1121 – College Transparency Act – for the same reason: student privacy.)

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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