Stop the Herbert Charade: Vote Johnathan Johnson for Governor   2 comments

jj

Please vote for Johnathan Johnson  for Governor of Utah.  Gary Herbert’s pretend-a-thon about Common Core has been growing increasingly desperate and despicable.  Johnson doesn’t pretend that the nationalization and standardization of all things educational is acceptable, or that it’s not happening.

I actually keep the campaign mailers that Governor Herbert sends out, rather than sending them to the bird cage, because I see them as evidence in a crime scene.

“LOCAL CONTROL OF EDUCATION,” crows one flier, “Governor Herbert played a key role in supporting Congress passing a law to prohibit federally mandated education standards– including Common Core”.

(I ran around my kitchen and shrieked and burned the pancakes the first time I read this mailer.)

ESSA, a fed ed monster bill that Herbert championed, certainly did claim that it would end fed ed in its talking points, but– since no one actually was allowed time to read it–  Congress found out after the vote, in reading the over-a-thousand-pages-long language, that it did no such thing.  Those of us who had been studying its predecessors knew what was in the crock pot.

Federal ESSA passed into law last Christmastime, when nobody had time to read or debate the 1,000+ page bill.  (To make doubly sure no one would have time to read or debate the bill, the writers gave it to the voters in Congress TWO DAYS before the vote).  Senator Lee protested loudly while Herbert promoted ESSA– just as he had so long openly promoted Common Core.

herbert

Despite what Governor Herbert or the Wall Street Journal may have said, ESSA didn’t end fed ed.  It cemented the entire Common Core / common data standards / common tests / federally aligned preschool system.  It just deleted the term “Common Core” so that millions who despised that term might be fooled.  All the federal and corporate strings were still there.

Even Federal Education Arne Duncan admitted that.

Duncan, who gloated over the deception of so many Republicans,  said,  “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law [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 [i.e., Common Core]… For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

In that interview with Politico Pro, posted by Pulse2016, Duncan said, “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.”

Duncan also said:

We had many, many conversations behind the scenes . . . . And I said for us to support [ESSA] they’d have to shed their far, far right [constituents who support the Constitution] . . . . I honestly didn’t know if they’d have the political courage to do that. But they both said they would and they did. I give them tremendous credit for that.

Duncan described an intentional betrayal by silence about the real agenda of ESSA:

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 – intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill . . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff . . .

With such praise for ESSA coming from Duncan (and from Herbert) and with such condemnation of ESSA coming from Lee, Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, one can easily see who’s aligned with progressive, Obama Administration ideology. 

Utah’s Congressional delegation very correctly cited local control being taken away as the reason for voting against ESSA.  Senator Mike Lee  was very clear on why ESSA should never pass.  The governor must have heard the ear candy of the bill’s prominent promoters, notably LaMar Alexander and Paul Ryan– but did he dismiss the words of Senator Mike Lee about ESSA?

Did Governor Herbert believe that he alone recognized ESSA as cutting fed ed, while the famously conservative Lee, Stewart, Bishop, Love and Chaffetz saw it as growing fed ed?  Did these Utah Congressmen vote against local control, and for federal control? Of course not; that’s why Herbert was vague on the mailer and did not actually use the term “ESSA”.

Herbert’s mailer also brags about Herbert being top dog at the National Governors Association (NGA).  True, he is its chair, but that is not something to impress an actual conservative.

The NGA is not a constitutional congress of governors.  It’s a trade group. Not all governors want to be in NGA.  Some governors boldly criticize it.  NGA is a closed-door, private club, not subject to sunshine laws, so no voter can influence (or even listen in on) what happens there.  –And what does happen there?  A lot of grant-taking from the likes of Bill Gates to push Common Core on the states, for one thing;  copyrighting and attempting to sell America on the Common Core, for another.  One non-NGA governor, LePage of Maine, said, “I get no value out of those [NGA] meetings. They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey.”

maine

If NGA Chair Governor Herbert wasn’t flabbily playing both sides of the campaign fence, appearing to be pro-Common Core to D.C. and to the ed sales lobby, while appearing to be anti-common core in his mailer to conservative delegates like me, he might come out with a clear and unmistakable statement, like Governor LePage’s of Maine, who said, in addition to the quote above: “I don’t believe in Common Core.  I believe in raising standards in education.”

But that wouldn’t fly with the Governor’s friends in his favorite, unconstitutionally recognized, high places:  NGA, CCSSO, Prosperity 2020, the Education First lobby, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Parents and teachers in Utah have endured intense, years-long frustration as we have listened to the charade led by the governor, echoed by those friends in unconstitutionally recognized, high places.  Herbert once said he aimed to “get to the truth”  about Common Core.  But the narrow, controlled “conversation” that Governor Herbert then led about Common Core, was light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted at his public meeting about Common Core: “Come and let us reason together.”  There was no listening happening.  Yes, he got his attorney general to say that Common Core was a locally controlled initiative, but that report was easily, factually rebutted.

If you want to see the governor’s four-year hypocrisy on Common Core newly documented, with links to the nuts and bolts of when and where Herbert promoted and defended Common Core, please read this week’s Herbert’s Common Core history  article on Utahns Against Common Core by Oak Norton.  It will knock your socks off.

Lastly:  there’s more to object to than just Herbert’s federal rubber-stamping of nationalized education standards and tests and data gathering without consent.  Look at other issues, just as important as education:

  • Why did Herbert veto Constitutional Carry?  Aren’t gun rights on the top of conservatives’ priority lists?
  • Why did Herbert support the expansion of Obama’s ideas for “healthcare” here in Utah?  Aren’t conservatives supposed to stand for fiscal realism and self-reliance and charity (as opposed to forcery –not a misspelling–)?
  • Why did Herbert not refuse the SLDS data mining movement, the federally-built and paid-for “State Longitudinal Database System”–from which no child or parent or teacher may opt out— a system that inventories and profiles students without consent?

I will never forget that day, four years ago, in the governor’s office: it was just the governor, his bodyguard, and we three teachers and moms:  my friends, Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, and me.

Although we explained our documented research about Common Core and common data collection (CEDS/SLDS) and gave Governor Herbert a thick binder that documented our research and our alarms; although we begged him to recognize the error and to steer away from these federally-promoted systems; although we pointed out that the State Office of Education was using zero documentation to support their pro-common core ear candy– the governor didn’t hear us.

then

 

He didn’t keep his promise to have us back in one month, after he and his legal staff had reviewed the issues, either.

He stayed his Common Core-promoting course and entrenched Utah further, using Prosperity 2020 and Education First as financial and political vehicles.

It was never about improving education.

Read Johnathan Johnson’s campaign site.  It is a breath of fresh air.

 

 

Why I’m For Ted Cruz   16 comments

CruzFamilyAnnouncment2

 

I’m with Ted.

To see the real contest between Ted and Trump, compare something other than what the news outlets permit you to see.  Start with the Cruz and Trump official websites.  Note the way that they speak about (or if they even mention at all) education, family, the Constitution, and religious liberty.  Compare the clarity and substance of their points.  Compare their histories of real action versus talk.

To me, there is no real contest after you do this.

The only thing I sincerely like about Trump is his slogan:  “Make America Great Again”.

I wonder: how, precisely, would Trump do that –without having outlined steps to actively uphold religious freedom, educational freedom, the First Amendment, religious liberty, and the family as the central unit of society, traditionally defined?  On these issues –my issues– Trump seems stumped.

Cruz has real, defined solutions based on foundational principles, but Trump has not.  What Trump has is hot air, angry bravado, a memorable slogan, and a nifty hat.

In researching which candidate upholds my priorities, I first took a look at Cruz’s and Trump’s official websites:

On Trump’s site, you see a lot of stuff for sale and you see narcissistic campaign articles about the Trump movement itself.  You don’t learn anything substantive.  There’s no mention of my priorities on his site.  That scares me.  Trump’s “issues” page only lists:

 

ted

On Cruz’ site, however, the “issues” page mentions all three of my top issues.  His list is:

The Cruz website focuses on principles and gives information about how Cruz has taken action on those principles, such as the vital detail of why religious freedom is so important.  The site says:

  • “America was founded on a revolutionary idea. Our rights do not come from government. They come from God. 
  • Ted has spent his career defending religious liberty. He has fought to protect our First Amendment rights in a number of Supreme Court cases, and as U.S. Senator, he has been a tireless fighter for the right to freely live according to our faith.
  • As a presidential candidate, Ted Cruz has hosted two national religious liberties rallies and has brought together Christians who have been persecuted for their beliefs so that people across the country can listen to their stories and stand united for our first freedom.
  • On day one, a President Cruz will instruct the Department of Justice, the IRS, and every other federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends today.”

Aside from the websites, think about their histories.  I especially like the story of Cruz, as Texas Solicitor General in 2005, who stood up to and beat the combined forces of murderer-rapist Jose Medellin plus the U.S. federal government plus the U.N. “International Court”. The U.S. and U.N. courts attempted to side with Medellin, who had raped and killed two Texas teenagers as part of a gang initiation.  The U.S./U.N. courts argued that although Medellin was guilty, Medellin should not be tried by Texas, but by Mexico.  Cruz won the case for Texas.  The murderer-rapist, Medellin, was executed.

Trump has what history?  He has made money, despite a lot of bankruptcies, and he had a reality show that a lot of people watched.  And?

This is not a high school popularity contest.  Choosing the wrong candidate can have devastating, even deadly, consequences.

As Mitt Romney pointed out this week,  “Trump’s bombast is already alarming our allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies… What he said on “60 Minutes,” about Syria and ISIS, has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season… This is recklessness in the extreme. Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. …[He] mocked a disabled reporter… attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle… mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman, due to her appearance… bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity…. Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes… He calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit first amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”

trump mad

The anger that Trump displays, which so many Americans feel, does not suddenly translate into a reversal of those things that make us mad.  Anger is not enough.  We need a president with substantive, defined plans; with honest, noble character; with a proven track record of dedication to honorable and Constitutional principles.  That is not Donald Trump, nor Hillary Clinton, nor Bernie Sanders.  The best available embodiment of noble aims and history is Ted Cruz.

Finally, what about Common Core?

Ted Cruz has a simple, excellent plan that moves us in the right direction, called Five for Freedom.  It calls for elimination of unconstitutional agencies, including eliminating the federal Department of Education.  Trump, on the other hand, makes no mention of education on his website.

It was a year ago that Ted Cruz tweeted:  “Federal government has no business sticking its nose in education. We need to repeal every word of Common Core.

ted 2

Nowadays, all the Republican candidates are suddently posturing as if they are opposed to Common Core.  How convenient for them, now that Common Core has become a byword.

About five minutes ago, when Trump seemed to realize that millions of grassroots Americans won’t vote for anyone who admits they’re working with, or cashing in on, the common core/common data alignment monopoly, he started making statements like “We’re cutting Common Core!” That statement elicits cheers.  But Trump does not demonstrate understanding of how deep and  penetrating the unwanted, common alignment of all things educational has grown, nor how sobering and difficult a task it will be to untangle it and retrieve freedom.

Know, too, that paid  Common Core endorsers are top Trump endorsers.)

See through this.   Trump got on the anti-Common Core, #StopFedEd bandwagon recently (in his speeches, but still not on his website).  John Kasich started pretending to have fought against Common Core.  (Look at Kasich’s track record.) And Marco Rubio?  He’s unfortunately been confused or lukewarm on freedom in education, for years.  Cruz has been with us all along.

When Senator Mike Lee endorsed Ted Cruz, he explained in a New York Times interview why Trump was not his pick: “Mr. Lee… said he worried about [Trump’s] policy positions and views on presidential power. ‘I’m still waiting to hear more detail from Donald Trump on where he stands on a whole host of issues,’ Mr. Lee said.”

We are all waiting for that.  Where does Trump stand on common, aligned education standards when they alter their names?  What about the common, aligned data standards?  Where does Trump stand on privacy rights?  Where does he stand on family rights?  The right to life?  Marriage or adoption of children by homosexuals?  The restoration of the Constitution?  Where does he stand on the Federal Reserve?  Where does he stand on religious freedom?  His silence is deafening on vital issues, yet he rants like a drunken sailor about making America great again.  That is not meaningful to me.

Cruz is not perfect.  He has said things that I don’t competely agree with.  But I don’t completely agree with my own dear husband, all of the time.  And that is okay.  Cruz is not a danger to our nation; Trump is.  So are (of course) Hillary and Bernie.

Trump seems almost a typecast for a dictatorship, a drunken one.  I can’t resist sharing a video that uses Trump audio clips with a lip-synching actor; you’ll either laugh or want to cry.   I know it’s immature, but it’s so darn poignant.

 

Please recall that last summer, a report card posted by Pulse 2016 and American Principles Project graded presidential candidates on their actions in getting rid of Common Core.

The only person who had an “A” then, who is still in the campaign, is Ted Cruz.  Take a look at the grades and the criteria.  It’s very telling.

Although I have a Cruz bumper sticker on my minivan and although I cheerlead for Ted Cruz on Facebook, I hadn’t, until recently, felt that making a specific Ted Cruz blog endorsement would be valuable.  It felt like it would be preaching to the choir. I guess I’m naiive enough to have believed that people would see what I have seen, in comparing Trump and Cruz. I thought that the “pro-freedom-in-education” gang all agreed that it’s only been Ted Cruz who has consistently, and with more than a five-minute history, been outspoken against Common Core and the top-down suffocation of local control in every aspect of education.

It seemed like the most obvious thing in the world, to me, that Cruz was the best choice.  But I was wrong about the obvious part.  Some of my friends and family members are “yuge” Trump fans.  They say that he’s strong.  They say that he’s refreshingly blunt and politically incorrect.  They say that he’s so rich that he doesn’t have to be beholden to lobbyists, the way all the other candidates on both left and right supposedly must.  They say that he’ll intimidate our enemies.  Tempting thoughts, all.

But I agree with what Gina Dalfonzo wrote, in an article for First Things entitled “Nikabrik’s Candidate” –that there’s a desperation, similar to the oppressed people in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian– in the desperation of Trump supporters.  Dalfonzo wrote:

“How could… the good guys in this story become corrupt enough to seek help from someone whose greed, brutality, and lust for power were legendary?

“…Nikabrik’s fears are legitimate. His enemies are real and powerful… He is right to recognize the need for help. He is wrong to decide that help must come from a force equally merciless—wrong when he tells Caspian, ‘I’ll believe in anyone or anything . . . that’ll batter these cursed Telmarine barbarians to pieces or drive them out of Narnia. Anyone or anything, Aslan or the White Witch, do you understand?’

“This is how good people with strong, ingrained values—people who have invested time and money in the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and similarly noble causes— …end up flocking to a reality-show star who spends his days on Twitter calling people ‘dumb’ and ‘loser.’ This is how some who have professed faith in Jesus Christ are lured by a man who openly puts all his faith in power and money, the very things Christ warned us against prizing too highly. As one wag on Twitter pointed out, “If elected, Donald Trump will be the first US president to own a strip club,” and yet he has the support of Christians who fervently believe that this country needs to clean up its morals.

“…Tired of waiting for Aslan—who may be nearer than we think—we turn elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if our candidate hates, bullies, and exploits other people, the reasoning goes… Hatred is a perfectly acceptable weapon, as long as it’s ‘on our side.’”

Are Trump supporters like Nikabrik in Prince Caspian, desperate for anything and anyone to defend them, even if that defender is evil?  Have Americans forsaken the principles that really did make America great?  Do Americans want Trump– regardless of his character, and regardless of the intended or unintended results that will come from unfettered rage and mannerlessness?  Is something as transitory as anger the prerequisite to good leadership?  Does blunt anger “trump” all other qualities?  What lasting good can come from following such a man?

My church teaches that “honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold” because “when the wicked rule the people mourn”; also, that we must “befriend” the “constitutional law of the land”(Doctrine and Covenants 98: 6-10).  It doesn’t say to seek or uphold perfect candidates; there aren’t any.  It says to find the most honest, the most good, the one most seeming to befriend the Constitution.

By that, I choose Cruz.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are their brains?

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

 

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Original post:

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HB 358 is here.  It is no small miracle.

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

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

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

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

I also found out that:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Sanpei       dsanpei@le.utah.gov

Senator Hillyard  lhillyard@le.utah.gov

Senator Dunnigan  jdunnigan@le.utah.gov

Senator Adams  jsadams@le.utah.gov

Representative Gibson  fgibson@le.utah.gov

Senator Okerlund  rokerlund@le.utah.gov

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

 

Thank you.

 

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

 

Video: Michelle Malkin Roasts Common Core-Based GOP at CPAC Speech   5 comments

Watch this!

At minute 2:30, Malkin starts in on Common Core.

“It’s not people outside the party that have thrown the conservative, grassroots base under the bus.  It’s the people who have paid lip service to limited government while gorging on it.  It wasn’t any outside candidate that is not a part of our movement… it was not outsiders, who are not familiar with our movement, who conspired with the establishment on Common Core.  That was Republicans– who threw us under the bus.  That was Republicans who are con men.  And it was the heart and soul of conservative, grassroots activists, mostly everyday, ordinary moms, who shamed the Republican Party elites into backing away.

“And now what are they doing?  The same thing that they always do when grassroots conservatives call them out:  they smear the people who fought against them and who call them out.  They sneer at them as hysterical.  They sneer at them as just “fringe movements” on the Internet.  And then they go and campaign on our side, knowing that they’ve stabbed us.  My job is not to tell people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

“We just had Governor John Kasich, a nice guy, by all means, who last night, during the debate, pretended that he was on the side of local control.  Ohio grassroots activists and moms know better.  This is a man who smeared home schoolers and teachers for their opposition to Common Core.  I am telling you the truth.  I am asking you to do your homework.  I am asking you to follow the money.  I know it isn’t what you want to hear.  But do you want to hear the same Republicans promise you, as they have been, since 1981, that they’re going to abolish the Federal Department of Education?  It’s an empty talking point. And those empty talking points need to be punctured like helium balloons.”

“There are three reasons why Jeb Bush failed:  his last name, his support for Amnesty, and his cheerleading and cashing in on Common Core.”

 

 

Thank you for speaking the truth, Michelle Malkin.

 

No More Opt Out Possible If Test Goes Underground: Update on HB164 (Down for Now) HB264 (Down for Now) SB91 (A Concern)   1 comment

Update on Utah education bills:

The short version and the good news must come first:  HB 164 (a bill about no more opting out of SAGE tests) did not pass.  HB 264 (a bill about common sex ed) did not pass.

Yesterday at the Capitol, the legislative education hearing was cram-packed with standing room only, and an overflow room was available for attendees.  I’m so glad that so many came.

One of the first bills,  HB201 –that would remove the Common Core SAGE test from being tied to teacher evaluations, a common sense bill– was clearly popular.  Three “Teachers of the Year” spoke in favor of it.  They said that it’s not fair to punish a teacher if a student rebels against a test and doesn’t do his/her best work.  Some said that the test itself was not valid.

When the committee chair asked if anyone in the audience wanted to speak against it, parent Jared Carman volunteered, saying that while he definitely agrees with the idea behind the bill, he disagrees with the bigger picture.  Carman pointed out that since, later in this same meeting, this committee would discuss whether to tie student passing or failing of a course to Common Core SAGE testing, the logic was flawed.  If it’s unfair to base a teacher’s grade on this unreliable and unvalidated test, why is it not unfair to base a child’s grade on it?

Amen, Mr. Carman.

Next up was HB 164, the opt out-or-no-opt-out bill.  Sponsor Kraig Powell summarized the three versions of the bill– not in the way I would have– but he did say that there were three different doors and that the committee could choose which door to open.  True.  They were each different, but each called 164.  Someone on the committee pointed out that this is not a game show!

POWELK

Someone else pointed out that the third substitute bill was only posted online a few minutes before the hearing, making it unfair to expect a vote on it, without a reading and without giving notice for people to know about it and to come to the hearing to speak to its (very different) issues.

Still, Representative Powell hoped to pass the bill anyway, saying (amid wild, enthusiastic cheers from the audience) that it’s high time we get rid of the SAGE test altogether.  For your information, he has always fought the pro-liberty, anti-common core crowd, so it was very, very odd to hear him say those words.

And I wasn’t cheering.

I asked to be allowed to give public comment on substitute 3, since I had read it while sitting in the hearing.  (I had noticed that it was utterly, completely different from substitutes one and two.  It was about “backpack” digital data on every child; it was about labeling schools as “turnaround” schools; it was about getting rid of SAGE testing while relying on embedded, curricular [stealth] assessment.)  I didn’t get the opportunity to speak because the committee wisely decided not to hear testimony and not to vote on it, since there had been no time for reading and analysis by the committee.

So why wasn’t I cheering that we’d get rid of SAGE?  Why would I want to testify against the bill that supposedly spelled the end of SAGE/Common Core testing?  Simply this:  substitute 3 of HB164 gets rid of SAGE, but it also gets rid of any possibility for a parent to opt a child out of testing.  And it totally relies on common core and common, SLDS/CEDS, data.

HB 164 sub 3 relies on a digital “backpack,” which is like an ever deepening, longitudinal fingerprint, to assess children constantly.  The child would provide an I.V. drip of continuous data to the State Longitudinal Database System, via stealth assessment, which has been set up to happen by several previous bills, including this one.

See lines 590-591:  “Every school district and public school shall develop and integrate programs integrating technology into the curriculum, instruction, and student assessment.”

That matches, perfectly, ed committee member Marie Poulson’s task force and resolution of last year, which aimed to minimize the negative effects of excessive testing.  It sounds so good.

Yet, there is something even more sinister than excessive testing, using experimental standards and psychometric analysis of student responses.  That is: stealth assessment; that means, using continuous assessment that is embedded in the curriculum so that no parent can opt a child out of the test– BECAUSE THE TEST NEVER ENDS.

I am not against integrating technology into learning.  There is nothing wrong with technology; it’s a blessing!  But there is something wrong with not applying basic principles of liberty and consent to the technology being used by children.  There is something wrong with forcing students to be monitored all of the time, in all of their assignments, and then to be judged thereby.

Dr. Gary Thompson has been warning us for years that the trendy notion of stealth, or embedded, assessment, would show up here; it has.  Jakell Sullivan has been warning us for years that SAGE was a red herring, or not the real point; the real point was controlling the data via the SLDS longitudinal database system; that’s in HB 164 sub 3, too.

So, despite the cheers of the audience members yesterday, when Representative Powell said, “SAGE needs to go!” I am certain sure that Powell has no intention of allowing any sort of parental opt out of testing.  He simply sees that assessment can go underground, far out of the view of parents or teachers, in the form of stealth assessment: “integrating technology [common core standards-based technologies, and SLDS/CEDS data mining] into the curriculum, instruction, and assessment“.

The question at the core of this issue is: Which is worse–  saving children from the wasteful, stressful, data-robbing SAGE tests now, while making their tests stealthy and continuous, with no parental opt out available, or: sticking with statewide SAGE, where at least those who are aware and informed, can opt out?

Both are bad, but one is clearly worse, in terms of parental judgment, control and liberty.  But embedded assessment is what Poulson and Powell and the whole educational establishment appear to be favoring.  Embedded tests certainly get rid of whiny parents and rebellious kids aiming to wreck their test scores with careless bubbling in of answers.  But at what cost?!

(Please contact your legislators and tell them that you are opposed to stealth assessment and digital “backpacks” on children.  This will show up in many bills, now and next year.)

brian king

 

The third bill from yesterday’s hearing that I want to review is Rep. King’s Comprehensive Sexuality Bill, HB 264.  The committee allowed public comment, but only a very few people were given time.  One of the first commenters arguing against passing the bill said that Rep. King’s opening line was false.  (King had said that there was “misinformation” on the internet that said that this bill had something to do with Common Core.)  The commenter said that Rep. King might not be aware of the national, common standards for sexuality education, but the promoters of the common standards sure are aware of Rep. King; just today, SIECUS had posted an article about Rep. King’s Utah bill promoting their standards.

sex standards

I looked at that article.  It was far more revealing about what the bill aimed to do than its testifiers seemed to be:  “House Minority leader Rep. Brian S. King (D-Salt Lake City) is leading efforts to change Utah’s sex ed law… Utah’s current law, passed in 1988, mandates medically-accurate sex education classes in schools but requires the stressing of abstinence-only instruction. The law stipulates that health education teachers cannot discuss intercourse nor positively discuss homosexuality…. This bill removes the instruction prohibitions on homosexuality, sexual intercourse and contraceptive devices”.

Most of the testifiers for the bill who stood to speak overtly appeared to be LGTB, a point that stood out to me.  It was not mentioned by the newspapers today, of course.  But think about it.  If the bill was just about giving additional, medically accurate knowledge, and not about altering “values, attitudes and beliefs” as the national sexuality standards movement requires; if there was no LGTB agenda being pushed on the children through HB 246, why were all the LGTB activists there to testify for it?  Since when do they go out of their way to testify in hearings for the cause of “medically accurate knowledge”?

I am not hostile toward gays.  Live and let live.  But  I am opposed to the LGTB agenda being pushed in public arenas as if it were the new, national religion.  I am opposed to the minimizing of truth about what that lifestyles’ consequences are.  The national common sexuality standards do push that lifestyle and political agenda on children, while calling it education.  Altering beliefs is not what reproductive health classes are supposed to be for.  Altering beliefs and attitudes is the job of the family and the church.

HB 264 did not pass.

The last update that I want to share is about HB 91, Hillyard and Eliason’s bill to change the power levers of the state school board.  I am concerned about the apparent power grab that the state school board is taking in this bill:

“The board may delegate the board’s statutory duties and responsibilities to board employees.”

This is bad because we, the people, cannot elect or fire employees as we can elect and fire the board.

85          (ii) temporarily or permanently withhold state funds from the education entity;
86          (iii) require the education entity to pay a penalty;

This is bad because it overreaches into the localities, pushing the state board’s will onto the local boards, which is not in harmony with the constitution.

There are also audits of localities, new rules about how a local entity interacts with a third party, and other seeming power grabs that need attention from local boards and liberty-minded representatives.  We don’t want to recreate the nightmare of the beastly federal Department of Education within our state, by allowing the State Department of Education to micromanage the localities, using money and unfire-ability as leverage.

Please continue to email, text, call or write to your representatives.

They need to hear what your thoughts and feelings are.  Silence is acquiescence.

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

With my stomach in knots at two sickening bills that are poised to be slammed through today, I will go (hopefully alongside very many other moms and dads and teachers like me, along with our children) to make the drive, find the impossible parking, and attend the hearings today at 4:00 at the House Building in our State Capitol building.

POWELK

POWELL – THE SPONSOR OF THE COMMON CORE-

BASED, FORCED YEARLONG TESTING BILL

 

We’ll hear legislative discussion and, if we’re lucky, will hear strong citizen testimony, on both HB 164 (that’s the “Let’s force SAGE/Common Core yearlong assessment on all kids without parental consent” bill) –now a very slightly altered version of what got voted down a few days ago, which has been unfortunately resurrected by the desperate Representatives Powell/Milner, likely egged on by equally desperate Governor Herbert and his USOE.

See lines 82-85:  “providing that scores on the tests and assessments… may [not] be considered in determining:
84          (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course; or
85          (ii) whether a student may advance to the next grade level.”

By taking out “not” they have made it so that kids opting out of common core year-round tests may not pass the class or the grade, if this passes.  That breaks many other laws that place parents as primary authority, schools as supporting authority, in a child’s education.  How can parents truly have a say if the law says otherwise?   Even more importantly, a yes vote on this bill is a yes vote for the common core itself, since it assumes that the tests based on those standards are valid.  VOTE NO.

 

Also:

brian king

KING – SPONSOR OF HB264, THE ALIGNING UTAH WITH

COMMON SEX STANDARDS BILL

 

We’ll hear discussion on HB 264, the bill that alters Utah’s current sex education program, which is, or was, reasonably, actually about the medically correct facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that abstinence and fidelity are great tools to avoid trouble — but now, under HB 264, is to  be replaced by  the “common core” national standards for sex ed, which are code named “comprehensive sexuality education,” all about altering “values, beliefs and attitudes” about sex and gender identity, with no moral judgment of any kind allowed to be taught, and no such thing as deviant or perverted behaviors to be mentioned; such seem not to exist, under the common national sex standards, separately from healthy and moral sexual behavior.

As Wendy Hart, Alpine School Board member, pointed out:   “We will be told [HB 264] is about knowledge.  Here’s some evidence.  CDC ranks Utah 47th for STDs compared to all of the other 50 states. According to the Guttmacher Institute Utah is rated 45th for teen pregnancy and 49th for teen abortions. States such as California and New York that teach comprehensive sex education are ranked in the top 10 states for all these teenage sexual activities.  So, should Utah continue with its successful abstinence-based education program resulting in Utah students ranking an average of 47th out of all 50 states for teenage sexual activity or should we change to a failed comprehensive sex education program that has produced teen sexual activity rates in the top 10 of all states?”

sex standards

—————————————————————————

With permission, I am posting the open email and letter now, from Dr. Gary Thompson, an African-American doctor of clinical psychology (who is also currently a candidate for District 10 in the battle for State School Board seats).

This letter was sent yesterday to the legislators, who will vote on HB164 today.

Email:

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

Subject: Memo To House/Press Release RE: Objection to HR 164-2

Dear Honorable Members of the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee:
Please find attached, my formal objection to HR 164-2, which if passed, will mandate that all Utah students be subjected to a experimental, non validated test, regardless of parental, medical doctor or psychological doctor objections.    I believe that this test is not only a experimentation on Utah’s children’s without informed written consent from parents, it is by its very design, discriminatory against African American, Latino, Gifted, Autistic, and Special Education Students in Utah public schools.
It is my understanding that this Bill will be up for a (re) vote sometime early this week.    Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, or need volumes of peer reviewed research which backs the contents of my letter.
I have been flooded with email and social media requests to address this issue from my perspective as a doctor of psychology, and father of five divergent learning, African American children.
I appreciate your civic service performed on behalf of the children in the State of Utah.   Thank you very much for your attention.
Best regards;

 

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
gary
Accompanying letter:

February 21, 2016
Re: Objection to HB 164-2

Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.

Dr. Gary T. Thompson

Utah State House of Representatives House Education Committee

Dear House Education Committee:

I am writing in regards to HB 164-2 on behalf of my five African-American children, as well as the hundreds of mothers who have graced the halls of the pediatric clinical/education child psychology clinic that I co-founded with my wife. This Bill will require all public school children in the State of Utah to take the SAGE assessment test, eliminate the option of parents to opt their children out of taking the test, and will mandate the usage of SAGE as a primary determinate for advancement in early elementary school grades, as well as graduation from Utah public high schools. The passage of this Bill will have far-reaching negative academic, psychological, ethical, economic, and legal consequences that will haunt our State for generations.

I have devoted my life to the research, study and ethical clinical usage of emotional, cognitive and academic achievement tests to assist parents, schools, and courts with making life-altering decisions for children. During my Doctoral Internship and Residency, I gained a intimate working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the incredible technology and psychometric qualities embedded in the algorithms of the computer adaptive tests that are now the foundational basis of the SAGE test at issue of this Bill.

The psychometric algorithms imbedded inside the SAGE test are remarkable, cutting edge, and unlike anything our generation has seen or experienced in our lifetime. As a local clinical community scientist, I have spent many hours enthusiastically reading peer reviewed studies from my colleagues over the past 8 years in anticipation of utilizing computer adaptive assessment of this nature for children in my community, as well as my own children.

I am a strong advocate for the ethical and prudent usage and inclusion of technology in efforts to assist ground level teachers with serving the academic needs of children in educational settings. The next 4 years will see innovations in this area that will be awe inspiring, as well as ground breaking in nature.

Despite my scientific enthusiasm and support for the inclusion and integration of psychometric tools, such as the SAGE test, in the academic lives of my children, and the children of my neighbors in my community, I beg you both as father, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, to never let this Bill see the light of day. My strong objection is not based on personal politics, and obviously has no basis in a “fear of technology”.

This Bill must not pass for one reason, and one reason only: It is still in its developmental/experimental phase, and has yet to be validated independently for its intended purpose. Without a shadow of a doubt, the corporation that the Utah State Office of Education chose as the vendor for the SAGE test (American Institute of Research), has launched the most expansive, massive, unethical experimentation on public school children ever witnessed in the history of Utah. Clinical psychology is replete with tragic, historical examples of the dire consequences associated with experimentation without the informed, written consent of its human participants. To pass a law which takes away the right of parents of protect their psychologically vulnerable children from the adverse, and well documented effects of high stakes, experimental assessment of any nature, is irresponsible, unethical, and dangerous.

One needs to look no further than the State of Florida to see the chaos, harm and damage associated with the AIR produced Common Core test currently being utilized for purposes of grade advancement, and teacher evaluations. In closing, on behalf of the parents of African American, Latino, Divergent Learning, Special Education, Gifted, Anxious, Depressed, Suicidal, ADHD, Autistic, and emotionally vulnerable children in the State of Utah, I respectfully request that the House not only allow parents to opt out of the SAGE test, but encourage them to withdraw their children when they witness excessive signs of distress associated with experimental, high stakes testing. In addition, I ask that no high stakes, experimental test produced by a corporate vendor, validated or not, ever be given the “respect” of being tied to grade advancement or high school graduation.

Using our kids as experimental laboratory rats, without the informed written consent of parents, to achieve “career and college readiness” is unethical by any professional standard, and is a direct affront to our God given and Constitutionally protected right as parents to protect, raise and nurture our children without invasive governmental interventions. Please vote “NO” on HB 164-2. “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”

Respectfully Submitted;

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Retired Father of Five Divergent Learning Children
2016 Candidate-Utah State Board of Education-District 10

 

Early Life –   10757 So. Riverfront Parkway Ste. #275 South Jordan, UT 84095

Tel: 385-900-4020 Email: drgary@earlylifepsych.com Website: www.earlylifepsych.com

——————————————-

If you can’t be at the capitol at 4:00 today, please text, email, and call the House Ed committee members:
Rep. Brad Last blast@le.utah.gov
Rep. Lowry Snow vlsnow@utah.le.gov 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman kimcoleman@le.utah.gov 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler brucecutler@le.utah.gov 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason seliason@le.utah.gov 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson justinfawson@le.utah.gov 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson fgibson@le.utah.gov
Rep. Eric Hutchings ehutchings@le.utah.gov
Rep. David Lifferth dlifferth@le.utah.gov 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay dmccay@le.utah.gov 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel mnoel@kanab.net 435-616-5603

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

 

HELP! The Miracle Got UnMiracled: HB164, voted down, is up for another vote. #PARENTALRIGHTS   12 comments

I was just going to the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook Page to share my “Thank You” letter with my friends. (I’d written a letter to thank the representatives who had voted no on HB164, the bill that would cause any child to fail a class whose parents opted him/her out of the SAGE/AIR (invalidated, common core, federally aligned tests).

But when I got to that Facebook page, my friend Wendell had posted a link to a new version of HB164.

The monster is back.

I don’t understand how!

I don’t understand how an ugly, evil, unconstitutional bill like HB164, after having attracted a packed room of angry parents last week, and after having been voted down by a vote of the legislative committee, can now be back for another vote.

I pray those nay-voting  legislators will see lines 76-79 and will say, “No. I still do not like Green Eggs And Ham!”

But who knows?

Who’s being manipulated, threatened, or bribed at the legislative level– and by whom?

Who knows?  There’s no investigative reporting being done in Utah by any newspaper on the subject of education industry corruption, or the education industry’s machinations at the Utah State Office of Education.

There should be. The education sales industry is one of the biggest, most money-making industries in the world.  And Utahns are probably the most trusting, gullible, and least fact-checking groups of people on earth.

The facts are stacked against the trusting little guy.

The governor of Utah is the president of the National Governors’ Association, the group that co-created and copyrighted the Common Core and co-promoted the Common Educational Data Standards  movement.  To deliver that product, Utah’s Governor Herbert himself created Prosperity 2020, a movement that aligned Utah businesses and chambers of commerce with the common core and common data mining projects now in pre-K-12 and higher ed.

From Governor Herbert’s point of view– and especially in an election year, when his opponent, Jonathan Johnson of Overstock, is openly fighting Common Core and common data mining projects– while Gov. Herbert’s supporters, the Chambers of Commerce, etc., are making so much money on this monstrosity (at the expense of real, good education and student privacy, of course)– from that point of view, HB164 HAS TO PASS.

It has to pass, for the monster to live.

If it doesn’t pass, then that lynchpin of power and control doesn’t get settled in to take over; if people can opt out of the data collection tests, then the data isn’t usable, and the whole monster feeds on data, data, and more data.  Nonconsensually gathered, private, individually-custom built, student longitudinal data.  The State Longitudinal Database System is the mechanism.  Schools feed it every day.

If the testing opt-out movement seriously catches on fire here in our state, then SO MANY ENTITIES LOSE MONEY AND POWER.  Governor Herbert is one.  The Chambers of Commerce are another.  School Improvement Network is another.

Even the federal government will be hit hard, if enough parents and students opt out, since federal ESSA, passed last December, calls for 95% of all students taking the same federally aligned tests and giving up that student data for “user profiling” of all citizens.

The same God who put children first in His heart and in his kingdom said that you cannot serve God and mammon. In this state, a supposedly religious state, it is sad to say that there is a tremendous amount of top-level USOE and Chamber of Commerce hypocrisy going on.

Children are being put last. Money is being put first.

Ironically, and evilly, the money is being made under the banner of making children’s lives better.  That’s all Prosperity 2020 ever talks about– the future of the economy, for the children.

But tell me this: how does any of this bless a child, when a child is, under HB164, forced to take a test and is forced to expose his or her private data in a user profile that in no way blesses him or her, but benefits the central planners?

Is it right?  Children, forced to take a test, despite parental reservations.  Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the test has never been validated.  Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the standards upon which the test rests, are experimental and are far from the time-tested, classic standards for real education that their parents knew.

Forced.  Forced.  Forced.

Think about this.

If HB164 passes,  when that now-much-smaller group of non-test takers actually fails classes, when the first group of normally A+ children fail full grades in school –because their parents stood up, using their consciences and Constitutional freedoms, against this monstrosity, because that will happen—how will Governor Herbert look into our eyes and shake our hands at the local Rodeo?

How?

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