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.

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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.

 

Please Call to Stop Student Privacy-Torching Bills Now   4 comments

It’s a good day to call Congress.

It’s a good week to call repeatedly.

I hope thousands will pick up their phones to call (202-224-3121) to halt the student/citizen privacy-torching bills that are now up for a vote.

 

Here’s why.

Bills that destroy privacy in the name of research are right now, quite incomprehensibly, being sponsored by Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and Trey Goudy, as well as Democrat Patty Murray.

Even though public comment was overwhelmingly AGAINST the formation of a federal database on individual citizens, the bills are moving, without debate.

Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out:

“There was tremendous public opposition to the CEP Commission’s proposal to create a national student record, as stated on page 30 of the CEP report:

Nearly two-thirds of the comments received in response to the Commission’s Request for Comments raised concerns about student records, with the majority of those comments in opposition to overturning the student unit record ban or otherwise enabling the Federal government to compile records about individual students.’ ”  

Bless the dear soul of the CEP clerk who was honest enough to publish that important tidbit in the CEP’s report of public comment.  But still, the CEP ignored the public’s wishes, and now, Paul Ryan and friends plan to continue to ignore the American people and to skip the debate process that Congress is supposed to follow.

Here are the bills:

In both cases, the promotion byte for passage of the bills is the government’s desire to do “transparent” research on the people, for the people’s own good.  Congress calls this “evidence-based policymaking“.

But a stalker could call his studies evidence-gathering, too.  Without informed consent, there is no justification for evidence-gathering on individuals.  I honestly keep scratching my head as to why these representatives and senators don’t get it.  Is someone paying them to give away Americans’ rights?  Do they honestly, in their heart of hearts, not see that this is theft?

Many trustworthy sources are in a panic about this, as am I.  Read what Missouri Ed Watchdog, Education Liberty Watch, and McGroarty/Robbins have written about this:  here and here and here 
Months ago, I wrote about Ryan’s precursor, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policy (CEP) and its designs– here.
I recorded the core of what the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was doing, after I’d painfully viewed hours of Ryan’s CEP Commission’s public meetings that promoted the benefits (to researchers and to the government) of creating a federal database of personally identifiable, individual information.  –By the way, no mention was ever made of gaining informed consent from citizens, prior to creating that database.  Lip service was given to the idea of “ensuring” that no unauthorized citizen could hack the federal database (an impossible thing to ensure).  At the time of the Commission’s posting of that video and my writing about it, I complained that their video was not embeddable.   Today, their video’s not even there.   Still, I do have an exchange, which I had typed up on that day:
The question was asked of the Commission:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question …  you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have…  you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together.  What are the ways that you could expand those efforts?  Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about?…  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“… different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc–  had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a stateversus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”

 

 

 

So, months ago, Ryan’s CEP  admitted  that what it was doing would be considered unacceptable, so unacceptable that it “would probably not fly” so they ought to carefully trick the American people by moving toward such a centralized database in “baby steps”.

Yet, this week,  Ryan’s CEP has skipped its own recommended baby steps,  and is about to openly rip off more than just a band aid from the American people.

Congress is about to vote to rip off American privacy rights.

Pro-citizen-tracking Republicans and data-desperate researchers are making a bet that the American people are so asleep or confused or unconcerned, that we will say nothing while they make the theft of individual privacy justified, under new laws.

The CEP and Paul Ryan are undoubtedly good folks with research-driven intentions, butno good intention can supercede the vital importance of this basic American right: to keep personal privacy– to not be tracked, as an innocent citizen, without reason or warrant, by the government.

 

Please call and stop these bills.

Call Congress– 202-224-3121.  Or check the directory here. 

If you don’t know what to say, use this simple truth: that without individuals’ informed consent, it is theft to collect and store an innocent citizen’s personally identifiable information.  If an individual does this to another individual, it’s punishably wrong; if a government does it to individuals, even after voting itself into justification of the act, it’s still wrong.

Please call, and call, and call.  (202-224-3121)

 

 

Student Data Privacy Toolkit Available Now   Leave a comment

Free to use and share:  the Student Data Privacy Toolkit has arrived!

  If you’re wondering why it matters, read on.

———————————– ————————————- —————————————–

 

Is anyone honestly opposed to having students govern and own their own private data?  Are reputable organizations openly, actively working around systems to get hold of individual students’ data?

Yes.   There are so many that it’s overwhelming to learn.   The biggest organizations that you can think of, both political and corporate, are either looking away from scary privacy issues, or are actively engaged in promoting the end of student data privacy for reasons either research-based or greed-based (or both).

Trendy, probably well-meaning power brokers profit hugely from data sharing –done without the informed consent of students and parents.  Most of them probably aren’t thinking through what they are doing, nor of its effects on individual freedom.  Many of the richest and most powerful of them (even Betsy DeVos herself) were here in Salt Lake City last week at the Global Silicon Valley convention; attendance there cost $2,795 per person, which is a clue to how exclusionary the conspiracy of greed really is and how it fears pushback from teachers and parents and lovers of liberty.  That is a conspiracy of greed against local control.

I am not fighting greed.  I believe in capitalism even with its greedy warts, because capitalism represents freedom.

It’s piracy that I balk at.  And the student data-mining madness is absolute piracy.  Parents, students and teachers were never asked for consent prior to having their data mined by the schools or the schools’ agents.  In some cases, that data is already being held against them.

How can this be happening?  Is it really happening?  Can we comprehend it?

To make it simple, look at this notification of inspection.  It seems snoopy, yet reasonable.  I found it in my suitcase when I came home recently from San Francisco.

Think about it.

Did you as a student, a parent, or a teacher, ever receive a “NOTICE OF INSPECTION”?

No!  Of course not.  You are being given less respect than a suitcase.  Children are being scrutinized for academic, social and psychological data, their data saved in State Longitudinal Database Systems and in third party corporate data systems, without informed consent and without notice.  That is snoopy –and unreasonable.

“Partnershipping” education-data piracy is happening rampantly.  It includes all the states who took the federal bribe and then created a student stalking system known as the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).   The data piracy includes the U.S. Department of Education (see its EdFacts Data Exchange and its Datapalooza conferences and its official student-data partnership with private groups such as the Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association.)  The data piracy party includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce –and the United Nations.  (See the U.N. Data Revolution)  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is in. (Just see how much money Gates gives to, and earns from,  this movement.)  The federal Commission on Evidence Based Policy, the Data Quality Campaign, American Institutes for Research, the United Nations’ Data Revolution Initiative, Pearson, Microsoft, and Jeb Bush’s Foundation are in. Betsy DeVos does nothing, nothing to stop it.  Nothing.

Lest we believe that it’s all bad guys, far away, realize that the Goliaths of data piracy also includes locals:  the Utah Data Alliance, Utah’s Prosperity 2020, The Utah Chamber of Commerce, the University of Utah’s K-12 research database (SLDS) and many Utah corporations.

These groups are financially thriving financially from the common use of Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) and Common Core academic standards, which go  hand in hand.  They also thrive on the lack of proper protections over student data privacy, although many of them give loud and proud lip service to caring about student data privacy.

Hearing these groups claim commitment to student privacy (after having listened to the CEP‘s meetings, or after having seen what the USDOE did to shred protective FERPA law) is like hearing a boat captain boast about the safety of his vessel to passengers who have been handed sandwiches instead of life vests.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look into the federal Commission on Evidence Based Policy (CEP) for starters.

It’s pretty fascinating, but inspiring at the same time, to see that some people are thinking through all of this: a group of smart, conservative Republicans and smart, progressive Democrats are joining forces because they see student data privacy being of extreme, non-negotiable importance.  The non-bought, pro-privacy coalition, called The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, has just released its Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, which it calls “a practical guide for protecting your child’s sensitive school data from snoops, hackers, and marketers”.

I’m not anti-data or anti-progress.  Invention and science are wonders!  I balk at, and hope others will consider, the idea that personal privacy of children is being taken without their consent and without their parents’ consent, for cash.

The conspiracy of greed does not want to talk about that.

It just wants to keep collecting the golden eggs.

 

It’s up to individual parents to care and to act, to protect student data privacy.  State school systems are not going to do it; they are taking huge grants from the feds, on an ongoing basis, to beef up the “robust data systems” instead.

You can download the free toolkit here: https://www.studentprivacymatters.org/…/Parent-Toolkit…

Use it.  Share it.  Student privacy matters.

 

 

Executive Order on Education: Why DeVos Is Saying There’s No Such Thing as Common Core, and Why There’s Still Hope   4 comments

 

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order to reclaim local control of education, and then handed his pen to a school teacher who was watching the event.  Watch her at minute 10:00.  She is tearful.  This executive order meant something to her. Teachers are weary of being micromanaged, standards-whipped, undermined and data-mined.  They want peace.

But it isn’t the federal government alone that has stunted teachers’ and students’ freedoms, and this executive order alone does not have the power to fix what’s broken in American education.  What local control advocates are fighting is the mighty, wealthy partnership of government to corporate ed-tech.   It’s the marriage of enforceable power to greed.

Possibly, an executive order might get the feds out of teacher’s laps, but guess what?  Business interests will still be sitting there.  Most of them think that there’s  nothing wrong with businesses influencing policy– but there is. We can’t un-elect a corporation.  We can’t attend their private meetings.  We can’t vote for what will be put into the educational computer programs that our children are to be fed.  We can’t get rid of the influence of businesses if we do not like what they’re doing; that’s why the business industry must be kept out of public education.  The voice of the voter and of the mom and dad and teacher and student must never be quashed under the brute strength that industry plus government can become.

The federal government is neither the main nor the sole entity undermining local control –nor is this a left/right argument. On both the left and the right, at both federal and state levels, watch the monied partnerships combining.  The huge combinations are what we’re fighting, and their huge influence are why we’re losing.

The U.S. Dept. of Education is partnered with CCSSO.  Microsoft is partnered with Pearson.  States are partnered with the feds in student database building and reporting. And the federal CEP is trying to centrally house all the data for everyone.

All of these combinations rely on common data standards.  They must have standardization –or out of their hands slips the golden goose.

 

What most people don’t know, and what DeVos won’t say, is that the Common Core movement was never just a set of academic standards; it was a set of data standards from day one.

Global data-standardization of all things in education, from tests to curriculum to teacher evaluations to student pathway setting to school grading, is much more controlling than a little old set of math and English standards could ever be!

Know this:  a private group partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to create Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS).

That private group was called the CCSSO.  The very same CCSSO partnered with the National Governors’ Association to create the Common Core academic standards. 

Both CEDS and CCSS form the heart of the Common Core movement.  Neither are gone.

Those data standards and education standards are embedded into the vast ed-tech reform market and school systems.  Few people outside the tech elite know this.  So we fall for the rebranding efforts of lobbyists, legislatures, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over and over again.

States rename their academic standards (as Utah did with Utah Core Standards) but the truth is that we still use the common core academic tests and common data standards.  These are not locally controlled.

Because the federal government is only a co-creator of the monster known as the Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS), I don’t see how reducing federal overreach into local academic decision making will help us all that much; the other co-creator, CCSSO/NGA, promoting a centrally planned standardization movement itself –which feeds on investors and has trillions to play with— will thrive on.

(For those who think centrally planned standardization of education data is faulty conspiracy theory, I repeat:  check the CCSSO’s official statement: “Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.”)

This is something that Trump’s executive order does not mention.  Neither does DeVos.

I can’t trust DeVos to obey the spirit of this executive order.  Sweet as she may come across, DeVos embodies the problem that arises when half-truths become acceptable to society.  Listen to the Michigan Moms against Common Core.  They have history, losing Devos when she fought against parental empowerment and against the repeal of Common Core in Michigan.  DeVos’ interests were better served by Common Core’s continuation.

 

It seems impossible that DeVos is unaware of the inaccuracy of her statement this week: “there really isn’t any Common Core anymore.”  (See video clip, minute 3:00)   https://video.foxnews.com/v/5409228473001/?#sp=show-clips

Ask anyone who works in education, or in the education publishing or tech industries, if Common Core is gone.  They live it every day.

How can DeVos say that?

DeVos leans on the latest version of No Child Left Behind/ESEA, called ESSA, as evidence that Common Core is gone, saying that states are in the driver’s seat.  She’s wrong.

ESSA does not use the term “common core” as a requirement, sure; but it requires states to demonstrate to the feds that they’ve adopted standards aligned to the same definition that the feds have promoted (common core).

Under ESSA, the feds can withhold funding and can veto  states’ educational decision making agendas!  (“You can have any color as long as it’s black.”)

ESSA pushes everything Obama wanted:  the tsunami of nonconsensual data mining requirements; federally set moral/social values in schools (social emotional learning, or SEL); federally defined preschools and social services; and “college and career ready standards” which is code for Common Core.

For more on how ESSA/ESEA does not end Common Core nor create local control, read more:  here  and here and  here. 

Short on time?  Skip straight to this quote from Obama’s Secretary Duncan, who gloated when Congress passed ESSA: “I’m stunned at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it… if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in [ESSA] are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards…”

If ESSA was such a win for local control, why was Duncan calling it a miracle for his agenda?  More to the point, can anyone honestly say that DeVos’ push for ESSA isn’t promoting the Obama agenda?

Trump’s executive order aims to be a local control enforcement mechanism, but because it relies on ESSA, it can never really achieve its stated purpose, “to ensure strict compliance with statutes that prohibit Federal interference with State and local control over education“.

The order aims “to protect and preserve State and local control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, and personnel of educational institutions, schools, and school systems” which is wonderful, but the next few phrases are where I get stuck.  They add: “…consistent with applicable law, including ESEA, as amended by ESSA, and ESEA’s restrictions related to the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

This seems self-contradicting.

I will admit that I have been doing some laughing this week.  I  laughed hardest (probably inappropriately) when I saw DeVos say on Fox News, while standing stylishly in front of the White House, that there’s no such thing as Common Core anymore.

Realize that Secretary DeVos has been directed to examine the overreaching actions of her department, while she’s in complete denial that Common Core is a problem and in denial about any partnership between her own department and the creators of Common Core/Common Data Standards, even existing.  She’s also promoting the same agenda that GSV and Obama promoted (see below).

Isn’t this like asking the arsonist to serve as fire chief?

 

 

A few weeks ago I wrote that this year’s host for the mega education tech conference was Salt Lake City, and that the conference’s co-sponsors, Global Silicon Valley and Arizona State University, had posted a white paper describing their vision and agenda.  I was pretty mad that they were taking $2,795 per person to attend this ed tech conference.  I was even madder that their real agenda, found in their white paper, was full of pro-Common Core and anti-local control plotting.

But now I’m madder.

The 300-plus page, foundational white paper has been deleted from the internet.

If you go to the GSV website, or to the conference website, or to my own blog’s links to that document, vamoosh!  Gone.

This, just a few days before the conference is to begin?  Why doesn’t GSV want its agenda widely known anymore?  Why not?

I thought I’d post a screen shot of that document’s key page:  page 302.

 

 

This “Strategic Battle Plan” of Global Silicon Valley and Arizona State University (and Bill Gates and everyone, pawns or knaves, on the ed-tech bandwagon) began with Common Core.

It continued with universal preschool vouchers and No Child Left Behind 2.0 (which is ESSA.)  It goes on to school choice, knowledge as currency, tax credits for employee training, and the elimination of locally elected school boards.

The elimination of locally elected school boards.

This is not something that we should take lightly.

Republicans are just as guilty as Democrats in actively destroying local control by worshiping ed tech.  Pay attention to this battle plan.

UPDATE 4-28-17:  A friend found an online copy of that deleted document.  Here is the link to the full document:  http://www.educationindustry.org/assets/documents/KnowledgeCenterDocs/2012%20american_revolution%202.0%20gsv%20advisors.pdf

 

ON SCHOOL CHOICE:

One of the steps on that page 302 agenda (above) is school choice.

I know that many good people have been taken in by the “school choice” idea, so I want to address that briefly.

School choice is no long-term choice!  The words sound good, and of course in a free country we need choices– but what do these words mean to ed reformers, and in context of government dollars?

Tax dollars will flow  from government coffers to private schools, instead of parents’ dollars flowing to private schools.  With government money comes government accountability; in 2017, accountability is spelled D-A-T-A.  If you value student data privacy, if you value a private school being allowed to set its own academic, religious, social and moral values, then don’t be sucked in to the school choice movement.  In the long run, this movement is taking away what autonomy means, or meant, to a school.

 

 

Lastly.  And yes, this is related.

Do you know that there is a federal Commission on Evidence-based Policy (CEP) that exists to argue about how and where to house citizens’ personally identifiable data centrally?  No one’s suing.  They should be.

Data that has been nonconsensually gathered by federally designed school systems called “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS) plus data that has been gathered by a multitude of other state and federal agencies and organizations is now to be housed either in one federal repository or in a few consortia of repositories, if the CEP gets its way.

The arguments of the CEP members remind me of that line in The Princess Bride:  “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen!”

Laughter is not always my response to the crazy, crazy stuff that is going on in education reform.  But for today, it is.

 

I’m still an optimist.

Angels greatly outnumber devils.  I see greatness in individuals who are doing their best, still thinking outside the box as much as they are able–  teachers, principals, parents, grandparents, and yes, even legislators.  I see individuals doing what they can, wherever they stand and they are making a difference. The incredible liveliness and buoyant spirit in children is not going to be permanently crushed, not even by the robotic idiocy of tech worship that is plaguing education systems today.

I absolutely believe that the oppression of standardization is less than a fleck of dust in God’s huge wind.

 

 

Education44: Obama’s Shadow Government Posing as Department of Education   3 comments

 

Obama has set up a shadow educational governance system.

It’s called Education44 –in honor of the Fed-Ed programs of Obama, 44th president of the United States.

Shadow governments are creepy.

Shadow governments are not elected, so they can’t be un-elected.  They aren’t accountable.  They aren’t subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  They have nothing to fear except the great American wake-up.

They get their power by pretense, by assuming power roles, rather than earning legitimate power through an actual election.  Education44 has power because it is so connected to the big ed-tech money funneled in Common Core-aligned systems from the U.S. taxpayer.

You’ve heard of political correctness?  How about educational correctness?  If you are educationally correct, you are aligned with Education44 and the ed-tech industry as defined by Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson/Obama; you are in ed reform for money, but you pretend that you are in it for the kids.

The Education44 website promotes socialist ear candy in programs such as the  “Promise Neighborhoods” that will provide “wraparound services through school communities” for “access to longer school days and year, affordable food and healthcare, and extracurricular activities”.

Education44 also  promotes “guidance letters” that Obama, Secretary King and Secretary Duncan pushed on American schools. It promotes many, many other education “reforms” that are controlling and/or harmful to American autonomy and freedom, but for each program, it uses “ear candy” terminology so that each appears, on the surface, harmless.

I have learned to beware of vague “ear candy” terminology.

For example, Education44’s supposed priority (and apparent motto) is “protecting students“.  Where in the U.S. Constitution did we ever delegate any  role over children to the federal government?  That’s the job of a family, not of a federal bureaucrat –and not of business owners (Bill Gates) in greedy partnership with government.

Education44 seems less about protecting students and more about dividing and controlling students.

Check it out:  one of its programs “My Brother’s Keeper” focuses on male students “of color” only; too bad if you are a female child or are not seen as an “of color” child.  Another of its “guidance letter” programs focuses on protecting only certain religious/ethnic groups –with no mention at all of “protecting” the rest of the students; protected are the “Syrian, Muslim, Middle Eastern, or Arab… Sikh, Jewish, or students of color”.  Another program is called, simply, the Enforcement Unit.  It sues private schools and colleges.

Its website promotes common core in the same code-phraseology for common core that the ed reformers always have: (College and Career Ready, or College and Career Standards, or College and Career Grants).  It admonishes all to continue the [Common Core] goals via Obama’s Race to the Top:

  • “Adopting college-ready, globally competitive academic standards and tests
  • Building data systems…”

From promoting school-collected data for the “School Climate” program, to the twenty three pages of links to articles about data collection, Education44 seems to focus on data collection, in order to administer these Obama-approved programs.

What does it all mean?

 

We can only guess. No citizen is allowed, no reporter is allowed, to visit secret meetings of self appointed shadow governments, such as Obama’s new Education44.  No citizen has ever been able to attend any of the closed-door meetings:  of the Council of Chief State School Officers, of the National Governors Association, of the partnership meetings between the U.S. Department of Education and EIMAC;  nor of the partnership meetings between Microsoft and Pearson,  Bill Gates and the Department of Education, nor of the Global Silicon Valley and Obama’s darling Quazzo…  These meetings, though, function as shadow governments to education, because the unelected are running the education shows –and are using education tax dollars to function.

These partnerships can’t be called conspiracies.  They are openly acknowledged.  Yet they are conspiratorial in nature because they work their greedy, money-grubbing agenda under the radar of the average person.  And the agenda is so sadly, always anti-local control, anti-individual autonomy, anti-classical education, anti-privacy… and none of it was ever subjected to a vote.

If you think I am just opining that there’s an actual, evil agenda to really remove local control from Americans, please think again;  the ed tech conference of the year, to be held here in Utah in a few weeks, is founded on the GSV’s core principals –which do include GSV’s stated goal of “Eliminating Elected School Boards”.)  And Marc Tucker (of the Obama-approved Center for American Progress) has been spouting for years about the goal of removing what he calls the beloved American emblem: local control.

None of these ed “partners” are elected to do education reforms, any more than Education44 is.   An elected school board has that job;  in some states, legislators do.

But neither rich pants Bill Gates, nor the now-nobodies Obama,  Duncan and King, nor ed-tech lobbyists near or far have any authority to be telling you what to teach your child.

They do it anyway.  Because they can.  Because so few stand up to them.

I wish more legislators would put on their big-boy pants and take back the reins of control, as Rep. Massie, Rep. Chaffetz, Rep. Jones, Rep. Biggs, Rep. Amash, Rep. Hice, Rep. Labrador, and Rep. Gaetz are aiming to do with H.R. 899.

Neither the federal USDOE nor these shadow governments and wannabe business-education partnerships have any basis in the Constitution.  Let’s give education back to WE THE PEOPLE, where the Constitution assigned it in the first place.

 

Rep. Massie: “Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”   5 comments

Here’s hopeful news for freedom lovers.

Eight congressmen have banded together to try to restore the constitution by deleting the federal Department of Education.

President Ronald Reagan, while in office, aimed to make this happen. Recently, parent and educator groups have been pleading for this to happen. Campaigners have often spoken about this idea, since it guaranteed applause from voters.  However, last month, in a clear, one-sentence-long bill, eight congressmen actually wrote the bill to take down the Fed-Ed monster.

It says only this: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”  That’s it.  That’s the whole bill.

It’s short, but it’s powerful.  H.R. 899 (if it gets a hearing and a vote) ends the reign of the unconstitutional, federal department, and aims to restore money and power to the states. –Remember, the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment states: ” The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Original H.R. 899 sponsors are: Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky (twitter:  @RepThomasMassie ) Rep.  Jason Chaffetz of Utah,  Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona,  Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho.

 

 

Rep. Massie said in his press release, “Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn… Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school.”

Original co-sponsor Rep. Walter Jones agreed: “For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs – the state and local level. D.C. bureaucrats cannot begin to understand the needs of schools and its students on an individual basis. It is time that we get the feds out of the classroom, and terminate the Department of Education.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Raul Labrador added: “I’ve always been a proponent of empowering parents, teachers and local school boards who best know our children and their needs. Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education is the most important step we in Congress can take in returning decision making to the local level.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Andy Biggs noted: “Education of our students should lie primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who know how to meet their individual needs best. Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level.”

 

Rep. Massie also pointed out that President Ronald Reagan would have cosponsored this bill.  In September 1981, about a year after the federal Department of Education began operating (1980) President Ronald Reagan said:

“…[W]e propose to dismantle two Cabinet Departments, Energy and Education[E]ducation is the principal responsibility of local school systems, teachers, parents, citizen boards, and State governments. By eliminating the Department of Education less than 2 years after it was created, we cannot only reduce the budget but ensure that local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, determine the education of our children.”

Learn more about the bill in the video interview with Rep. Massie below. In the video, when answering a question about who now opposed his bill,  Massie said that there are opposers who believe that D.C. has cornered the market on genius, who feel that the rest of America should rely on those situated in D.C.; but most people want to keep educational decision-making and education money local; opposers are few.

Please remember that the bill, H.R. 899, newborn last month, has yet to have a hearing or a vote.  Please contact your congressional representatives  to add momentum to this bill.

How will the Department of Education be dismantled?

Rep. Massie envisions three ways in which the bill could be implemented.

1.  Get rid of federal education.  Return all power and all money to the states.

2.  Block grant federal education money to the states.

3.  Have different federal departments oversee federal education programs that are still active due to federal law.

Massie favors the option that gets rid of fed-ed altogether, and so do I.

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