A neighbor told me that Heber’s city council was considering applying for a $10,000 grant.
Accepting the money would join our city to “Communities That Care,” a federally promoted anti-youth-problems program.
Now, everyone likes money. And everyone is opposed to youth doing drugs and crime. So what’s not to like?
A little research shows that “Communities That Care” raises serious anti-gun issues, as well as possible data privacy issues.
So, here’s the letter I sent to city leaders:
I’m writing to let you know that I’m one of those Heber residents who is now researching Communities that Care, so that we have plenty of information to make an informed decision for our city about whether it’s a good or a bad move for us. My gut feeling already is that it’s a bad idea. Why?
I used to write grants full time. One thing I learned is that there are no free grants. It’s not just money; the grantor always has an agenda and a reason for putting his or her money where the grant is going. The grantee has a duty under contract to fulfil the obligations of the grant. Before we apply for a grant, we need to know exactly what that agenda is. The money will be spent, but the agenda lingers. If our residents’ values truly match those of the grantor, that’s good. If not, it’s bad.
My preliminary research is showing me that a collectivist, socialist mentality is behind “Communities that Care,” which places the community (both local and national) above the family/parents. Why do I say this? A great portion of the program deals with data collection on teens and their families. Data will be collected through archives of the community, and also through surveys administered to young people on an ongoing basis. Who has access to this data other than our own community, and why? (Federal databases are currently being “mashed” and shared, according to sources such as Joanne Weiss, chief of staff of the Dept. of Education. So we don’t have any guarantees that privately collected data will remain with the entity that originates that collection. And Communities that Care is a branch of the federal government.
As you know, questions in surveys can and do present agendas. We may or may not find our values reflected in the way the questions are written. Sometimes, the way a question is asked does not give room for a response that accurately matches local reality. We need to read the survey ahead of time, find out who writes the survey, and who has authority to change or amend the questions on that survey. We also need to make sure it’s not a mandate; some parents may not want children taking surveys for data collection that may be used for purposes other than that which was originally intended.
Communities that Care is not an unknown entitity with an unknown agenda: the Dept. of Health and Human Services runs it; it’s the federal government. Let’s make sure we are true experts on all the possible future consequences to our city, before we consider signing on the dotted line.
P.S. Gun Rights Alert: I just now, while writing to you, searched and found a document online from Communities that Care called “Community Assessment Training: Collecting Archival Data” http://www.sdrg.org/ctcresource/Community%20Assessment%20Training/Participant%20Guide/CAT_PG_mod3.pdf
It says, among other things, that a “risk factor” for problem behavior indicators is “community laws and norms favorable to the use of drug use, firearms and crime”. Firearms are considered to be in the same basket of bad behavior risk factors as crime and drug use? Not in Heber.
The same chart shows “parental attitudes” and even “constitutional factors” as possible risk factors. Does this sound neutral, parent-friendly, gun-owner friendly or big-government friendly, to you?
Innocence Alert: I also found a survey used for a Communities that Care program in Massachusetts. http://esb.plymouth.k12.ma.us/attachments/2e3d9da3-cc55-4720-a79b-793eb5219c40.pdf One question there was how often the child had “Used prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall without a doctors’s orders during the past 30 days?” The question did not allow the child to say “What the heck is Adderall?” or “It was actually 31 days ago,” or “my doctor has no qualms about prescribing whatever I’m willing to pay for.” There are all kinds of problems with these types of impersonal questions, including introducing innocent non-users to the idea that they could experiment with prescription drugs.