Last year, on behalf of Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center, Dr. Gary Thompson offered $100,000.00 to the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) for validity reports for Utah’s SAGE Common Core test.
He made the offer after Associate Superintendent Judy Park made a public statement regarding the validity of SAGE which Dr. Thompson knew to be false. He knew that test makers such as American Institutes for Research (AIR) or Pearson routinely provide validity reports to psychologists in the private sector, because by law and ethics, they know the tests can’t be used otherwise.
Dr. Thompson gave the USOE a 24-hour deadline to forward to his clinic some certified copies of industry-standard validity reports prepared by AIR. Such reports would show the test’s construct validity, criterion validity, content validity, concurrent validity, and predictive validity.
In exchange for copies of the reports, Early Life Corp would donate $50,000.00 to a public school of USOE’s choice, plus an additional $50,000.00 to the 2014-15 Utah Public School Teacher of the Year. He sent the offer directly to Dr. Judy Park and to some of the Utah State School Board members; he also posted the offer on his personal Facebook page, the clinic’s Facebook page, and on the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook page.
The offer was quickly big news among those who follow the Common Core Initiative’s unfolding saga nationwide. Six clinicians and partners of Early Life, including the CEO who happens to be Dr. Thompson’s wife, were not happy about the offer. That night was a sleepless one for them and Dr. Thompson was consigned to the couch for the night by the CEO. Still, Dr. Thompson slept like a baby. Why?
Here’s a little bit of history:
Right after his appearance on the Glenn Beck TV show, where Dr. Thompson had exposed the Common Core/SAGE test’s assault on student privacy and its unanswered validity questions, Dr. Thompson had been summoned to the offices of then-Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove and Associate Superintendent Brenda Hales. He accepted the invitation, bringing along his clinic’s lawyer and his best friend, Edward D. Flint.
During the two and a half hour meeting, Dr. Thompson and Ed Flint first sat and listened to “Brenda Hales’ hour-long lecture about ‘the Standards'”. Dr. Thompson finally explained, when she was finished speaking, that academic standards were not Thompson/Flint’s area of expertise and that the subject was of no interest to them on any level.
Next, Menlove/Hales listened to Thompson/Flint. The doctor and the lawyer explained the fundamentals of test validity issues and data gathering, and expressed their concerns about privacy and testing issues, laying out a careful analysis of how easily potential violations could occur under Common Core’s tests.
Menlove/Hales dismissed their concerns as “conspiracy theories” and requested that Thompson/Flint “stop bringing fear into our community via social media”. Thompson and Flint promised to cease speaking of their concerns if Menlove and Hales would agree to contact AIR to provide documentation that the concerns were unwarranted.
Dr. Menlove agreed.
Weeks later, still having seen no validity reports, Dr. Thompson finally received a phone call –from a parent, who had noticed an AIR letter posted on the USOE webpage. The letter was directed to Dr. Menlove from AIR Vice President Jon Cohen; it purported to address the concerns of Mr. Flint and Dr. Thompson, using their names.
AIR Vice President Jon Cohen failed to actually respond to the pointed, specific concerns that had been submitted in writing to Dr. Menlove. (Read those here.)
What he did do is attempt to give AIR a pat on the back by sharing a link to what was meant to go to a national nonprofit disabilities organization, one that would vouch for the test verbally (not with any validity studies or reports). Yet –incredibly– when one click’s on the AIR Vice President’s link, one is linked to a vacation spot on Catalina Island.
It’s been two years since AIR’s defense of validity letter was posted on the USOE website, and still no correction has been made.
Why haven’t the newspapers reported that the validity of Utah’s SAGE test is proved with a link to a Catalina Island website? This singular error (I’m assuming, hoping it was an error) and it’s now two-year uncorrected status speaks tragic volumes about the lack of professionalism of the SAGE, the USOE and the AIR Corporation. (AIR has received at least $39 million so far for its testing service, from Utah taxpayers.)
Dr. Thompson was not amused by AIR’s error. He shared this story in multiple, filmed presentations in four different states. Audiences and parents were stunned.
This is news. Why is it not in the papers? When AIR had the perfect opportunity to silence “misinformed” critics by putting the issue to rest with actual validity tests, the company produced no reports of any tests, just a short letter that said nothing.
Multiple calls to Dr. Menlove’s office and to his personal cell phone were never returned. Months later both Dr. Menlove and Brenda Hales abruptly resigned with no explanations given.
It had become clear to Dr. Thompson that the SAGE test was designed to assess both academic and psychological constructs. Dr. Thompson knew from his direct doctoral residency experience and from his academic training in assessment that no test of this kind had ever been devised in the history of clinical psychology. With knowledge of the extreme experimental nature of the test it was his logical assumption that AIR’s efforts were devoted to the construction of the test and could not have concurrently designed an entirely new method of measuring validity; providing validity reports is a time-consuming and extremely expensive task. (He notes that AIR and other Common Core test makers must have been thrilled to oblige when “client” Secretary Arne Duncan gave them the opportunity to devise a huge test without requiring the normally expensive and very time-consuming validity tests.)
It’s common knowledge, thanks to the USOE, that AIR was the only company that was federally approved; thus, the only company Utah could have chosen once it dumped its SBAC membership. The USOE has explained, “AIR is currently the only vendor who produces a summative adaptive assessment that has received federal approval.”
No one really knows– outside of the few AIR psychometricians and V.P. Jon Cohen– exactly what the Utah SAGE test (which is now also used outside Utah) measures. After two years of studying the issue, Dr. Thompson surmises that AIR has devised one of the most complex, accurate measures of personality characteristics ever made. Dr. Thompson believes that behavioral testing was AIR’s contractual goal and that SAGE reached that goal.
Support for Dr. Thompson’s conclusion is easy to find. As one example, scan the federal report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance“. It openly promotes schools’ collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via behavioral assessment. (See page 44 to view biometric data collection device photos: student mood meters, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors, etc.) Utah’s own documents, such as the grant application for the State Longitudinal Database System, reveal that noncognitive assessment, including psychometric census-taking of Utah students, were part of the state’s agreement with the federal government even before the Common Core Initiative had come to our state.
As for the SAGE test’s academics, Dr. Thompson points out that barring independent, peer-reviewed documentation, it is not possible to honestly claim that SAGE measures what it claims to measure– academics– in a valid manner. Dr. Thompson puts it this way: “There is no way in hell that the AIR-produced SAGE/Common Core test measures academic achievement in a valid manner, and quite probably, does not measure academics at all.”
Dr. Gary Thompson and his family
Postscript: For more opt-out-of-SAGE-tests motivation please read the testimonies of parents who served on Utah’s SAGE “validation committee”. They read the SAGE questions last year and are now speaking out.
The State School Board of Utah meets tomorrow and will discuss SB 235 (bad bill) and HB 360 (great bill). They apparently want the good one vetoed. Too much liberty for teachers; too much distance between Utah and Common Core. It’s an open meeting; come and see.
The board doesn’t like this freedom-saving bill. But the Utah legislature did like it; HB 360 passed both houses and should be signed into law by the governor next week. Unless he vetoes, swayed by the school board…
Please email them: Board@schools.utah.gov
Dear State School Board,
Here’s the link for Governor Herbert’s electronic messages to ask for that SB 235 veto: http://www.utah.gov/governor/contact/
Here are the Utah Representatives. Ask them to contact the Governor too: (write more than just your own rep.)
|District||Representative||Party||Counties Represented||Contact Info|
|1||Sandall, Scott D.||R||Box Elder, Cachefirstname.lastname@example.org
|2||Lifferth, David E.||R||Utahemail@example.com
|3||Draxler, Jack R.||R||Cachefirstname.lastname@example.org
|4||Redd, Edward H.||R||Cacheemail@example.com
|5||Webb, R. Curt||R||Cachefirstname.lastname@example.org
|6||Anderegg, Jacob L.||R||Utahemail@example.com
|7||Fawson, Justin L.||R||Weberfirstname.lastname@example.org
|9||Peterson, Jeremy A.||R||Weberemail@example.com
|10||Pitcher, Dixon M.||R||Weberfirstname.lastname@example.org
|11||Dee, Brad L.||R||Davis, Weberemail@example.com
|12||Schultz, Mike||R||Davis, Weberfirstname.lastname@example.org
|15||Wilson, Brad R.||R||Davisemail@example.com
|16||Handy, Stephen G.||R||Davisfirstname.lastname@example.org
|18||Hawkes, Timothy D.||R||Davisemail@example.com
|19||Ward, Raymond P.||R||Davisfirstname.lastname@example.org
|20||Edwards, Rebecca P.||R||Davisemail@example.com
|21||Sagers, Douglas V.||R||Tooelefirstname.lastname@example.org
|22||Duckworth, Susan||D||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|23||Hollins, Sandra||D||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|24||Chavez-Houck, Rebecca||D||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|25||Briscoe, Joel K.||D||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|26||Romero, Angela||D||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|27||Kennedy, Michael S.||R||Utahfirstname.lastname@example.org
|28||King, Brian S.||D||Salt Lake, Summitemail@example.com
|29||Perry, Lee B.||R||Box Elder, Weberfirstname.lastname@example.org
|30||Cox, Fred C.||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|31||DiCaro, Sophia M.||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|32||Christensen, LaVar||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|33||Hall, Craig||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|34||Anderson, Johnny||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|35||Wheatley, Mark A.||D||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|36||Arent, Patrice M.||D||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|37||Moss, Carol Spackman||D||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|38||Hutchings, Eric K.||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|39||Dunnigan, James A.||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|40||Miller, Justin J.||D||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|41||McCay, Daniel||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|42||Coleman, Kim||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|43||Tanner, Earl D.||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|44||Cutler, Bruce R.||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|45||Eliason, Steve||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|46||Poulson, Marie H.||D||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|47||Ivory, Ken||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|48||Stratton, Keven J.||R||Utahemail@example.com
|49||Spendlove, Robert M.||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|50||Cunningham, Rich||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|51||Hughes, Gregory H.||R||Salt Lakefirstname.lastname@example.org
|52||Knotwell, John||R||Salt Lakeemail@example.com
|53||Brown, Melvin R.||R||Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich, Summitfirstname.lastname@example.org
|54||Powell, Kraig||R||Summit, Wasatchemail@example.com
|55||Chew, Scott H.||R||Duchesne, Uintahfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|56||Christofferson, Kay J.||R||Utahemail@example.com
|57||Greene, Brian M.||R||Utahfirstname.lastname@example.org
|58||Cox, Jon||R||Juab, Sanpeteemail@example.com
|59||Peterson, Val L.||R||Utahfirstname.lastname@example.org
|60||Daw, Brad M.||R||Utahemail@example.com
|62||Stanard, Jon E.||R||Washingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org
|64||Thurston, Norman K||R||Utahemail@example.com
|65||Gibson, Francis D.||R||Utahfirstname.lastname@example.org
|66||McKell, Mike K.||R||Utahemail@example.com
|67||Roberts, Marc K.||R||Utahfirstname.lastname@example.org
|68||Nelson, Merrill F.||R||Beaver, Juab, Millard, Tooele, Utahemail@example.com
|69||King, Brad||D||Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grandfirstname.lastname@example.org
|70||McIff, Kay L.||R||Emery, Grand, Sanpete, Sevieremail@example.com
|71||Last, Bradley G.||R||Iron, Washingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org
|72||Westwood, John R.||R||Ironemail@example.com
|73||Noel, Michael E.||R||Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Waynefirstname.lastname@example.org
|74||Snow, V. Lowry||R||Washingtonemail@example.com
|75||Ipson, Don L.||R||Washingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the Utah Senators (write more than just your own senator):
|1||Escamilla, Luz (D)||email@example.com||Salt Lake|
|2||Dabakis, Jim (D)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Salt Lake|
|3||Davis, Gene (D)||email@example.com||Salt Lake|
|4||Iwamoto, Jani (D)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Salt Lake|
|5||Mayne, Karen (D)||email@example.com||Salt Lake|
|6||Harper, Wayne A. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Salt Lake|
|7||Henderson, Deidre M. (R)||email@example.com||Utah|
|8||Shiozawa, Brian E. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Salt Lake|
|9||Niederhauser, Wayne L. (R)||email@example.com||Salt Lake|
|10||Osmond, Aaron (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Salt Lake|
|11||Stephenson, Howard A. (R)||email@example.com||Salt Lake, Utah|
|12||Thatcher, Daniel W. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Salt Lake, Tooele|
|13||Madsen, Mark B. (R)||email@example.com||Salt Lake, Utah|
|14||Jackson, Alvin B. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Utah|
|15||Dayton, Margaret (R)||email@example.com||Utah|
|16||Bramble, Curtis S. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Utah, Wasatch|
|17||Knudson, Peter C. (R)||email@example.com||Box Elder, Cache, Tooele|
|18||Millner, Ann (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Davis, Morgan, Weber|
|19||Christensen, Allen M. (R)||email@example.com||Morgan, Summit, Weber|
|20||Jenkins, Scott K. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Davis, Weber|
|21||Stevenson, Jerry W. (R)||email@example.com||Davis|
|22||Adams, J. Stuart (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Davis|
|23||Weiler, Todd (R)||email@example.com||Davis, Salt Lake|
|24||Okerlund, Ralph (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Beaver, Garfield, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Utah, Wayne|
|25||Hillyard, Lyle W. (R)||email@example.com||Cache, Rich|
|26||Van Tassell, Kevin T. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Daggett, Duchesne, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch|
|27||Hinkins, David P. (R)||email@example.com||Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch|
|28||Vickers, Evan J. (R)||firstname.lastname@example.org||Beaver, Iron, Washington|
|29||Urquhart, Stephen H. (R)||email@example.com||Washington|
Please write or call! This is still America and not every legislator is bought by lobby money. Some actually do listen to constituents.We should act –even if we act alone. If we each act on conscience, rather than failing to act, for fear of failure, we might be winning many more battles.
A war over children’s lives and schooling and privacy rights is being waged, far under the radar of most people’s daily lives– but even those who know it’s going on, often fail to act. Keep acting, even if it appears there is no hope. Please join me if you can.
–And by the way, there is real hope!
Many people have written to the governor on this issue, pleading for a veto.
I sometimes think that we would be better off if we had an obvious wolf for a Governor.
If we had an obvious wolf, people would be paying very close attention to what he was doing. But Governor Herbert uses conservative language while he passes rascally progressive bills and initiatives and blocks conservative ones.
Most of Utah pays no real attention. Many assume that the conservative-sounding speech they heard him make on the campaign trail matches his actions today.
But this is not the case. He’s a key member of the Common Core creation team at NGA/CCSSO and he’s a proud promoter of Prosperity 2020, the cradle-to-workforce program that puts the economy first (not children) and puts businesses, not moms, dads and teachers, in positions of power over schools. He is not about to fight his own machine. The only thing he might fear is losing re-election. This is why I have a little bit of faith that letters asking him to veto SB 235 and asking him to pass HB 360, might, in great numbers, have influence on him –only for his re-election hopes. If he does just the opposite of what we are asking, and passes SB 235 and vetoes HB 360, let’s at least not let him do it too quietly and without pushback. We still have about a week until it’s too late to veto or to pass these bills into law.
How will President Obama’s multiple initiatives increase federal control over American technology and data mining –and how will these initiatives affect children?
There are several new initiatives to consider.
I. NET NEUTRALITY
Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Obama-approved definition of “Internet Neutrality.” Proponents made it sound as if “neutrality” meant openness and freedom for individuals, but the ruling increases federal power over the internet.
The notion that fairness and neutrality should be government-defined and government-enforced makes me roll my eyes. The term “net neutrality” sounds just like Harrison Bergeron, with the FCC playing the part of the Handicapper General to enforce equality by handicapping achievers and punishing success.
So now that the federal government has increased power to define and enforce its one definition of neutrality, how will this advance the goals of Obama’s ConnectED initiative? Will “neutrality” aim, like ConnectEd aims, to strap tax dollars and children’s destinies in education to Bill Gates’ philosophies and coffers? I ask this in light of Microsoft’s alignment with the FCC’s ruling, Microsoft’s celebrated discounting of common core-aligned ed tech products and Microsoft’s promotion of ConnectED. Add to that question this fact: Microsoft’s owner, Gates, funded the Role of Federal Policy report, which found (surprise, surprise) that the power of federal groups, to “research” children/education without restraint, should be increased using ESRA reauthorization. More on that below.
How does all of this work with the SETRA bill’s student data collection goals?
First, a quick ConnectEd review: Obama is bringing the now-neutralized internet to all schools while behaving very non-neutrally himself: he’s officially favoring and partnering with Microsoft/Bill Gates/Common Core so the uniform customer base (children) will only receive the One Correctly Aligned Education Product (and likely will thank Gates for what they see as kindness, deep discounts). Microsoft’s website explains: “Partnering with the White House’s ConnectED Initiative, we’re helping provide technology for education, at a fraction of the cost.” Pearson, Inc. is doing the same thing here and here and here to lay those near-irreversible foundations for the future.
What Microsoft, Pearson and ConnectEd are doing could be compared to offering free or discounted train tracks to your city. They’re fancy tracks, but customized to fit one sort of train only. By accepting the offer, you are automatically limited to using only the kinds of trains made to run on your new tracks.
States and schools ought to be saying “no, thanks” to Gates and Pearson if we want to have the freedom to later use education and ed technology that might be Common Core-free.
(As an important aside: one of the stated aims of Obama’s ConnectEd is to catch up to South Korea where “all schools are connected to the internet… all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.” I’ll never join the chorus of “Let die traditional, print books”. But ConnectED has. )
The Internet has been, until now, unregulated by the federal government. It’s been free. The controllistas think of free as “unfair,” however.
“The main excuse for implementing the new invasions is the statists’ favorite complaint: Internet service providers ‘discriminate’ …[F]acilitators seeking to benefit from less competition, such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix, ought to be beige in color, have identical horsepower, the same number of doors, and get the same gas mileage no matter how far or fast they may be driven” (from Bob Adelman, New American Magazine).
In the FCC’s ruling, Bob Adelmann pointed out, there’s been dramatic change without transparent vetting. Adelmann wrote, three days ago: “On Thursday consumers will finally be able to see and read the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) planned new rules to regulate the Internet. Deliberately hidden from public view, the 332-page document … [was] demanded by President Obama… he told FCC … to adopt the “strongest possible rules” in regulating the Internet.”
Why was Obama bent on getting the “strongest possible rules” to control the Internet– and why did he confuse people by calling this move one toward openness and freedom? I don’t know why.
The “why” is not so important.
What matters most now is that Americans recognize that he is, in fact, aiming for ever increasing control at the expense of our freedoms, and that he’s partnered with private corporations who share his aims. History teaches that many people seek to control other people; whether for kindly intentioned or malicious intentioned reasons, they always have and always will. That’s why our Constitution is so sacred. It protects individuals from others’ controlling tendencies by decentralizing power.
Government-imposed equality, or “neutrality,” is a theme Obama has promoted in many ways prior to yesterday’s “Net Neutrality” punch.
Match that to the speeches of Bill Gates about building the uniform customer base of students using Common Core.
In each of the Obama-promoted, standardizing measures, no one may soar. No one is allowed to meander into creative or superior or innovative paths because of that devoted mindset: no failure– not allowing anyone freedom, if that includes the freedom for some to fail. This commonizing of the masses under the banner of “fair and equal” once upon a time used to be called communism, but that’s not a politically correct term anymore. You can’t even call it socialism. Instead, the p.c. terms are “social justice” or “playing fair.” I call it theft. Legalized plunder.
And it’s never actually fair: There is nothing fair about elites centralizing power to take freedom from individuals. Also, for those who decide that they are above the law there are exceptions; the ruling elite still get to choose.
When I say, “elites centralize power to take freedom from individuals,” I don’t mean metaphorically or theoretically. It’s real. It’s no theory. The micromanagement of schools, children, teachers to minimize parental “interference” and parental “opportunity” is a large and extremely well oiled machine.
On its federal hand, there’s the Obama Administration’s “National Education Technology Plan“. On its private, corporate hand, there’s the Bill-Gates-led “Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research,” explained out a report written by Aspen Institute and funded by the Gates Foundation. It says, “there is a broad consensus that federal investment in education research, development, and dissemination is vital” and “the pending reauthorization of ESRA creates new opportunities to better harness the tremendous research capacity we have in America to turn broad consensus into broad benefit,” and even: “the Obama Administration has proposed to create a new unit of ED, called ARPA-ED, that would be analogous to the high-profile Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Department of Defense. ”
III. SETRA – The Reauthorization of ESRA
We need to study the “pending reauthorization of ESRA” that hopes to “harness” students’ data. The SETRA bill now on-deck, bill S227, is the data collection bill that American Principles Project warned America about in a press release. SETRA is a direct answer to what the both the Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research and the National Education Technology Plan had requested: more power to the federal government over student data.
The history of educational data collection by federal/private forces is very boring. I only bring this up because we need to see them for what they are: public-private-partnerships, with unclear dividing lines between federal and private controls. That means that we can’t easily un-elect them or influence the power that they wield. It’s data collection without representation. That’s not only unconstitutional; it’s also very creepy.
The boring but important history of these public-private-partnerships is detailed in the Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research report, as well as on websites from the REL/WestED groups. WestED, a now-nonprofit, explains: “The roots of WestEd go back to 1966, when Congress funded regional laboratories across the country to find practical ways to improve the education of our nation’s children. Charged with “bridging the gap between research and practice,” a number of the original Regional Educational Laboratories grew beyond their initial charge and developed into successful organizations. Two in particular—the Southwest Regional Educational Laboratory (SWRL) and the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development (FWL)—evolved beyond their laboratory roots, eventually merging in 1995 to form WestEd.”
Why it matters? Ask yourself this: How does a parent protect his/her child from data leaks, privacy breaches and unwanted government intrusion or “guidance” when the data collection machines are not run by elected representatives, and they are paid to run well by the unstoppable force of taxes?
How does a parent protect his/her child when federal FERPA (Family Ed Rights and Privacy Act) has been altered so that it’s no longer protective of parental rights and student privacy?
How does a parent protect his/her child when the new SETRA bill allows power to go to regional commissioners, rather than residing in local schools, districts, or even states? Regions take precedence over states under SETRA.
But the public does not know this because proponents of SETRA reveal what they want to reveal in their “pro-SETRA” talking points.
I hate talking points! Give me truth in the form of direct quotes and page numbers from a bill next time, Congressman Boener.
Proponents fail to reveal the details of the bill that alarm opponents of SETRA. I’ll share a few.
For example, page 28, section 132 reveals that data to be collected on students may: “include research on social and emotional learning“. Social and emotional learning means psychological testing! This is promoting the same creepy biometric data mining methods that the Dept. of Education was pushing two years ago in its “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” report of 2013 (see report pdf page 44).
This SETRA bill’s language empowers the government to create a profile on your child, psychologically (emotional learning) and politically (social learning).
I do not support allowing the government to keep psychological/political dossiers on children.
Reliance on a wet-noodle FERPA for privacy protection
But I have no power, they tell me, despite being a mom, a voter, and a taxpayer. Recall that there is no requirement under federal FERPA any longer to get parental consent over the gathering or sharing of student data.
Likewise, in Utah, there’s no protection for student data. The state longitudinal database system (SLDS) gathers data about each child from the moment he/she registers for kindergarten or preschool without parental consent.
The state has said that no Utah parent may opt an child out of SLDS and legislation to create protections for children’s privacy in Utah has not been successful.
Utah’s legislature and school board continues to allow the SLDS to run wild, unaccountable to parents or to anyone. Students’ data in Utah is unprotected by law. If the board or an administrator tells you differently, ask them to show you the law that provides protection in Utah. Then send it to me.
In fact, the Utah Data Alliance promotes the sharing of data between agencies such as schools, higher ed, workforce services, and other agencies. If the board or an administrator tells you differently, ask them to show you the law that provides protection in Utah. Then please send it to me.
Parental Rights Dismissed
Soon, if federal SETRA passes, student data will be even more unprotected. Zero parental rights over student academic data (thanks to shredded federal FERPA protections and wrongheaded Utah policies) will be joined by zero parental rights over student psychological data (thanks to power-hungry SETRA).
In section 208 (see page 107) the SETRA bill reauthorizes the federal government “to align statewide, longitudinal data systems [SLDS] from early education through postsecondary education (including pre-service preparation programs), and the workforce, consistent with privacy protections under section 183;’’
SLDS is the very set of databases that deny parents their rights to be the main authorities over their own children’s data. Do we want to reauthorize the federal government to use our tax dollars for that purpose, moms and dads?
“Privacy protections under section 183,” as we discussed above, equals no privacy at all. Why? There used to be confidentiality standards, such as those seen in the 2002 data privacy code. But all of that changed. Now, confidentiality and parental consent have been reduced to “best practice” status, and parental consent prior to sharing data is not required by federal FERPA.
REGIONAL EDUCATION LABS MAY SUPERCEDE STATE AGENCIES IN POWER
Under SETRA section 174, “REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL LABORATORIES FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, DISSEMINATION, AND EVALUATION” the power of the regional educational laboratories is expanded. This whole section is worth reading, but it’s hard to read because of the many interruptions where the bill alters definitions and phrases from the original ESRA bill. Try it.
I have to say that in this section, the repeated use of the term “laboratories,” in the context of “regional educational laboratories” gives me the creeps. Am I the only one? Our children as guinea pigs in laboratories of educational and now psychological experimentation –organized by region and not by state? No, thank you.
When Regions Rule, States Lose Constitutional Strength
Another important thought: how can states’ rights over education ever be defended and protected when education is being restructured to function in regional, not by states, divisions? Is this why the regional laboratories of educational research are growing to become more powerful than state boards?)
On page 57 of the pdf the R.E.L. Commissioner is given a lot of power. “Each eligible applicant desiring a contract grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this section shall submit an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner may reasonably require.” The Commissioner can deny funds, or give funds, to people who “shall seek input from State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the region that the award will serve”. Hmm. I see. People may seek input from state agencies, but the regional laboratory commissioner is The Man.
The Regions aim for that power.
I’m not finished with my SETRA analysis. I’m just sick of it right now.
I’ll be back.
Utahns Against Common Core is asking Utahns to sign a transparency in voting petition immediately. It will be seen on Capitol Hill tomorrow morning.
The issue is one of power. Should the Governor hold the power over who gets to sit on the state school board, or should Utah’s voters get to decide? This is such a foundational measure. If the people themselves cannot possibly get decision makers elected who think differently from the powerful elites who marry corporate and federal aims and remove local control, then we have no hope of ever getting free of things like Common Core or the forced use on children of the State Longitudinal Database System.
There are competing bills right now that push for more or less voter control of decision making; either the Governor gets even more power than he already has, in appointing the board; or else, voters get increased power because voting will be totally transparent, partisan, and run just like the elections for other elected representatives in our state.
Please sign the petition now. The opposition is circulating a petition to bring to the Capitol tomorrow as well.
It is so a no-brainer to those of us who believe in representative government and the voice of the people. But it’s not a sure thing at all.
Although it seems almost unthinkable that there are so many people in our supposedly conservative state who want the Governor to be able to appoint people rather than to have open, transparent, partisan elections, that is what is happening.
Even if you happen to like the current governor’s line of thinking, what happens years from now when you don’t?
Decision making power over our schools and our children’s lives should not be concentrated in one man. It’s unAmerican, dangerous, and stupid to allow the centralization of power. We have a greater likelihood of not corrupting our state when we allow the people to choose, and to debate, and to vote transparently.
For those who didn’t know– our current process for getting new state school board members is not okay. It is centralized and corrupt, already. But the opposition wants to make it more easily controlled by the elites.
This is how it currently works: a governor-appointed committee interviews candidates for state school board, giving them, among other things, a questionnaire that is biased to the governor’s aims. (It asks, among other things, if the candidate supports the Utah Core/Common Core). So people who think independently will never even make it to the interview. Then the committee interviews a narrowed group, further narrows it to three people; the governor chooses two of them, and passes those two names on to voters. Utah voters never get any transparency, and only get choice a or b. (This reminds me of the old Ford ads: You can have any color, as long as it’s black.)
Petition language – from Utahns Against Common Core:
We, the undersigned, support SB 104, Education Elections and Reporting Amendments, which uses partisan elections to vet candidates and allow locally elected delegates to narrow the voting field of candidates who appear on the ballot. Partisan elections are used with great success in all other major elections in Utah and it makes perfect sense to allow the same process to function in large scale elections for school board members. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial of 10-30-2014 stated that there is no reason to come up with a new method of electing school board members. They stated:
“Actually, they don’t need to invent a thing. All they have to do use the same system we use to choose other state office holders. The process that is good enough to elect governors, attorneys general and members of the Legislature… People who want to be on the state school board should go through the same process as people who want to serve in the Legislature… It’s good enough for legislators. It should be good enough for school board members.”
The current system is broken. It guarantees that a single political party comprised of the UEA, USBA, and other educator organizations, dominate the election of the people on school boards.
I further request that no bill be passed that involves empowering the governor to appoint board members. The 15 state school board members have control of half of the state’s budget. Empowering them to be appointed by the governor instead of through the caucus system that has produced the “best managed state” in the union would be folly and give too much power to one individual.