Archive for the ‘Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking’ Tag

Video: Jane Robbins’ Testimony to Congress: On Consent and Student Data Privacy   4 comments

On January 30, 2018, Jane Robbins, a lawyer with the American Principles Project, testified to Congress’s House Education and Workforce Committee.  She strongly opposed the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-based Policy (CEP) that there should be an expansion of federal agencies’ access to data collected on U.S. citizens, or that there should be permission given to researchers to access that data without citizens’ consent.

Robbins pointed out the immorality of the CEP’s recommendations and patiently explained the difference between researching objects and researching human beings.   Some highlights of her testimony have been transcribed below.

 

Robbins said (see minute 39:30):

“…The problem arises when the subjects of the research and analysis are human beings. Each American citizen is endowed with personal dignity and autonomy and therefore deserves respect and deference concerning his or her own personal data.

Allowing the government to vacuum mountains of such data and employ it for whatever purposes it deems useful, without the citizens’ consent or in some cases even his knowledge, conflicts deeply with this truth about the dignity of persons. Bear in mind that the analyses contemplated by the commission go further than merely sharing discrete data point among agencies, they involve creating new information about individuals via matching data, drawing conclusions, and making predictions about those individuals; so in essence the government would have information about a citizen even he or she doesn’t have.

Our founding principle, which enshrine consent of the governed, dictate that a citizen’s data belong to him rather than to the government. If the government or its allied researchers want to use it for purposes other than those for which it was submitted, they should get consent; and in the case or pre-k through 12, students’ parental consent. That’s how things should work in a free society.

Let’s consider a few specific problems. The commission’s recommendations to improve evidence building, while well intentions and couched in reasonable language, sometimes fails to realize that data turned over by citizens for one purpose can be misused for others.

It is always assumed that the data will be used in benevolent ways for the good of the individual who provides it. But especially with respect to the enormous scope of pre-k through college education data, that simply isn’t true. Literally everything can be linked to education. Data analysis might study the connection between one’s education and his employment, or his health, or his housing choices or the number of children he has, or his political activity, or whether his suspension from school in sixth grade foreshadows a life of crime.

Education technology innovators brag that predictive algorithms can be created and those algorithms could be used to steer students along some paths or close off others. And much of this education data is extraordinarily sensitive. For example, data about children’s attitudes, mindsets, and dispositions are currently being compiled, unfortunately, as part of so-called social-emotional learning (SEL). Do we really want this kind of sensitive data to be made more easily accessible for evidence building to which we as parents have not consented? The commission recommends that all this data be disclosed only with approval to authorized persons, but we should ask approval of whom, authorized by whom. There are myriad examples of government employees violating statute or policy by misusing or wrongfully disclosing data, and even if the custodians only have good intentions, what they consider appropriate use or disclosure may conflict diametrically with what the affected citizen considers appropriate.  Again, this illustrates the necessity for consent.

 We should take care to recognize the difference between two concepts that are somewhat conflated in the Commission’s report. Data security means whether the government can keep data systems from being breached, which the federal government in too many cases has been unable to do. Data privacy refers to whether the government has any right to collect and maintain such data in the first place.

The federal privacy act set out the fair information principle of data minimization, which is designed to increase security by increasing privacy: a hacker can’t steal what isn’t there.

Another problem with the evidence-building mindset is that it assumes an omniscient government will make better decisions than individuals can themselves. But what these analysis are likely to turn up are correlations between some facts and others; and correlations do not equal causations. So, for example, we might end up designing official government policies based on flawed assumptions to nudge students into pursuing studies or careers that they wouldn’t choose for themselves.

Human beings are not interchangeable. Our country has thrived for centuries without this kind of social engineering and it is deeply dangerous to change that now.

In closing, I reiterate my respect for the value of unbiased research as the foundation for policymaking, but speaking for the millions of parents with whom we work in various states whose concerns about education policy and data have been minimized by various levels of government for years, I urge you to maintain the protections against treating their children as subjects for research without their consent. This might happen in someplace such as China, but it should not happen here...”

 

 

 

If you don’t want to search through the entire hearing, you can just see Jane Robbins’ portion here:

 

 

 God bless Jane.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

The New Piracy: Federal Centralization of Data “For Research” (Without Consent) – San Francisco Public Hearing Today   1 comment

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The New Piracy:  Personal Data Used “For Research” Without Consent

Today, you may listen to the third open, public meeting “to receive stakeholder input” held by the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP).  It’s being held all day in San Francisco.  Just dial 800-857-4620 and use passcode 4837647#.  The leader of the meeting is CEP Chair Katherine Abraham.

I’ve renamed the meeting “The New Piracy:  Personal Data Used ‘For Research’ Without Consent”.  It’s a far less boring title, and it’s closer to the truth of what’s actually being promoted in these meetings.

Previously, these hearings were livestreamed and posted on YouTube.  I have not been told why that kind of transparency ended, but it did.  If you want to read the messages of testifiers, rather than listening, here’s a link to presenters’ written testimonies.  In contrast to so many other testifiers, Dr. Karen Effrem’s written testimony for today’s meeting makes sense to me. Here’s the link to hers and the others’:  https://www.cep.gov/hearings/2017-02-09.html#presentations

Here’s an agenda link (that does not include the written-only submissions for today’s conference agenda):  https://www.cep.gov/content/dam/cep/events/2017-02-09/2017-2-9-agenda.pdf

Why listen to a deadly boring, all-day meeting?  Because I can hardly imagine a meeting with more power to influence the destruction of American children’s future liberties.  Even though the CEP has only existed for less than a year, and was just created by Paul Ryan and a handful of other congressmen, it holds influential power with Congress over matters of data privacy, or the end thereof.

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The CEP and the vast majority of its testifiers (business people and researchers) want the CEP to recommend to congress that state agencies (like school systems) and federal agencies (like the Social Security Administration and departments of the military and others) and other nongovernmental groups (that similarly collect personally identifiable information from citizens, en masse) should combine forces and data in a centralized “clearinghouse”.

The main issue of discussion seems to be whether to put such a clearinghouse under federal rule or under the rule of a consortium of universities.

Why the universities?  –Because almighty research is the false god by which this movement justifies itself.   Almost every testifier says that it’s far too cumbersome and inconvenient for researchers to go from state to state and agency to agency, asking for permission to access personally identifiable information for the research.

Proponents (of working past, or of removing, the federal ban on any centralization of personally identifiable information) never mention the fact that the data itself was taken without informed consent.  Think of it.  In the case of the millions and millions of records held in school systems’ State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) no child nor parent was ever asked whether data about the child’s personal data:  his or her academic abilities, nonacademic characteristics, family address, demographic data, behavioral data, medical data, or IEPs, might be shared with researchers without that family’s knowledge or consent.

They talk about “evidence-based policy” but never about informed consent.

They talk about the magic of research, but never about unintended consequences.

And they never talk about the constitutional right to not have citizens’ “personal effects” taken away by the government.

 

 

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Questions for Congressional Betsy DeVos Hearing: Letter from Grassroots Nationwide Coalition   1 comment

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Nationwide Coalition letter

linked at Florida’s Stop Common Core Coalition here.

 

January 9, 2017

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

428 Senate Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Members of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee,

 

We, the undersigned leaders of a nationwide coalition of grassroots parent groups, wish to raise significant concerns about Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, and request that you ask her these questions about education, standards, privacy and autonomy issues:

1) We understand that your website statement right after your appointment that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core was meant to reassure activists that you oppose the standards and will honor Mr. Trump’s promise to get rid of Common Core.

Please list your efforts during your extensive period of education activism and philanthropy to fight the implementation of the standards.

2) In your November 23 website statement you mention “high standards,” and in the Trump Transition Team readout of your November 19th meeting with the president-elect, you reportedly discussed “higher national standards.”

Please explain how this is different from Common Core. Also, please justify this stand in light of the lack of constitutional and statutory authority for the federal government to involve itself in standards, and in light of Mr. Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, make education local, and scale back or abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

3) Would you please reconcile your website statement that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core with your record of education advocacy in Michigan and elsewhere – specifically, when you have, either individually or through your organizations (especially the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) that you founded and chaired, and of which your family foundation is still the majority funder):

 Been described as supporting Common Core by Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation in the Detroit News?

 Actively worked to block a bill that would have repealed and replaced Michigan’s Common Core standards with the Massachusetts standards, arguably the best in the nation?

 Actively lobbied for continued implementation of Common Core in Michigan?

 Financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan?

 Funded Alabama pro-Common Core state school board candidates?

 Threatened the grassroots parent organization Stop Common Core in Michigan with legal action for showing the link between GLEP endorsement and Common Core support?

4) The Indiana voucher law that you and your organization, the American Federation for Children (AFC), strongly supported and funded requires voucher recipient schools to administer the public school Common Core-aligned tests and submit to the grading system based on those same Common Core-aligned tests. The tests determine what is taught, which means that this law is imposing Common Core on private schools. Indiana “is the secondworst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy” according to the Center for Education Reform because of that and other onerous requirements, and the state received an F grade on the Education Liberty Watch School Choice Freedom Grading Scale.

Do you support imposing public-school standards, curriculum and tests on private and or home schools?

5) Through Excel in Ed and the American Federation for Children, you have influenced legislation that has made Florida a “leader” in school choice, yet the majority of students, especially those in rural areas, in states like Florida, still chooses to attend traditional public schools. Public school advocates in Florida complain that expanded school choice has negatively affected their traditional public schools, even in previously high performing districts.

As Secretary of Education, how will you support the rights of parents and communities whose first choice is their community’s traditional public school?

6) You and AFC have been strong supporters of federal Title I portability. As Secretary of Education, would you require the same public school, Common Core tests and the rest of the federal regulations for private schools under a Title I portability program as Jeb Bush recommended for Mitt Romney in 2012 (p. 24)? If yes, please cite the constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in regulating schools, including private schools, and explain how this policy squares with Mr. Trump’s promise to reduce the federal education footprint.

7) The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires secretarial approval of state education plans for standards, tests and accountability. Will you support state sovereignty by approving the state plans in line with Mr. Trump’s vision of decreasing the federal role in education, or will you exercise federal control by secretarial veto power over these plans?

8) The Philanthropy Roundtable group that you chaired published a report on charter schools, but did not mention the Hillsdale classical charter schools, even though they are in your home state of Michigan and Hillsdale is nationally renowned for its classical and constitutional teaching and for not taking federal funding. Have you or any of your organizations done anything substantive to support the Hillsdale model aside from a few brief mentions on your websites? If not, do you want all charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere to only teach Common Core-aligned standards, curriculum and tests?

9) During the primary campaign, President-elect Trump indicated that he strongly supported student privacy by closing the loopholes in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), saying the following to a parent activist:

I would close all of it,” Trump replied. “You have to have privacy. You have to have privacy. So I’d close all of it. But, most of all, I’d get everything out of Washington, ‘cause that’s where it’s all emanating from.

Will you commit to reversing the Obama administration’s regulatory gutting of FERPA and to updating that statute to better protect student privacy in the digital age?

10) We are sure you are aware of serious parental concerns about corporate collection and mining of highly sensitive student data through digital platforms, without parental knowledge or consent. But the Philanthropy Roundtable, which you chaired, published a report called Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching that lauds the Dream Box software that “records 50,000 data points per student per hour” and does not contain a single use of the words “privacy,” “transparency” [as in who receives that data and how it is used to make life-changing decision for children], or “consent.”

Will you continue to promote the corporate data-mining efforts of enterprises such as Dream Box and Knewton, whose CEO bragged about collecting “5-10 million data points per user per day,” described in your organization’s report?

11) Related to Questions 9 and 10 above, there is currently a federal commission, the Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking, which is discussing lifting the federal prohibition on the creation of a student unit-record system. If that prohibition is removed, the federal government would be allowed to maintain a database linking student data from preschool through the workforce. That idea is strongly opposed by parent groups and privacy organizations.

Will you commit to protecting student privacy by recommending to the Commission on EvidenceBased Policymaking that this prohibition be left in place?

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12) As outlined in a letter from Liberty Counsel that was co-signed by dozens of parent groups across the nation, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) plans to add subjective, invasive, illegal, and unconstitutional survey or test mindset questions to the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

What will you do to rein in NAGB and protect the psychological privacy and freedom of conscience of American students?

13) Through commissions, programs, federally funded groups, the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act, and other entities, there has been an explosion of effort to expand invasive, subjective social emotional learning (SEL) standards, curricula and assessment.

What is your view of SEL and what will you do to protect student psychological privacy and freedom of conscience?

Thank you for your willingness to hear and address the concerns of hundreds of thousands of parents across this nation.

Should you need any further detail on any of these issues, I am acting as point of contact for this coalition.

Karen R. Effrem, MD President – Education Liberty Watch

http://www.edlibertywatch.org

Office: 952-361-4931

Mobile: 763-458-7119

dockaren@edlibertywatch.org

 

Sincerely,

 

National Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President, Education Liberty Watch

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education emerita, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas

Eunie Smith, Acting President & Mary Potter Summa, National Issues Chair – Eagle Forum

Angela Davidson Weinzinger – Leader, Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards

Donna G. Garner, Retired Teacher and EdViews.org Policy Commentator

Christel Swasey – Advisory Board Member, United States Parents Involved in Education

Shane Vander Hart – Caffeinated Thoughts

Teri Sasseville – Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Twitter Stop Federal Education Mandates in the U.S

Gudrun & Tim Hinderberger – Founding Administrators & Michelle Earle, Co-administrator, Americans Against Common Core Group

Alice Linahan, Vice-President – Women on the Wall

Teri Sasseville – Stop Early Childhood Common Core

Lynne M Taylor – Common Core Diva, education researcher and activist

 

State Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Alabama

Betty Peters – Member, Alabama State Board of Education 

Arkansas

Jennifer Helms, PhD, RN – President, Arkansans for Education Freedom

California

Orlean Koehle – President, California Eagle Forum

Orlean Koehle – Director, Californians United Against Common Core

Florida

Karen R. Effrem, MD – Executive Director, Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Meredith Mears, Debbie Higgenbotham, Stacie Clark – FL Parents RISE Keith Flaugh – Florida Citizens Alliance

Janet O McDonald, M.Ed., LMT, Neurodevelopmental Specialist & Instructor – Member, Flagler County School Board, District 2

Catherine Baer – Chairwoman, The Tea Party Network

Suzette Lopez – Accountabaloney

Sue Woltanski – Minimize Testing Maximize Learning

Beth Overholt, MSW – Chair, Opt Out Leon County

Deb Gerry Herbage – Founder, Exposed Blog

Lamarre Notargiacomo – Indian River Coalition 4 Educational Freedom

Charlotte Greenbarg – President, Independent Voices for Better Education

Georgia

Teri Sasseville – Georgians to Stop Common Core

Idaho

Stephanie Froerer Zimmerman – Founder, Idahoans for Local Education

Indiana

Donald Bauder – V.P Hamilton County Grassroots Conservatives

Iowa

Shane Vander Hart and Leslie Beck – Iowa RestoreEd

Kansas

Lisa Huesers, Courtney Rankin, Rosy Schmidt – Kansans Against Common Core

Kentucky

Shirley Daniels – Kentucky Eagle Forum

Louisiana

Dr. Elizabeth Meyers, Dr. Anna Arthurs, Mrs. Mary Kass, Mrs. Terri Temmcke – Stop Common Core in Louisiana

Michigan

Deborah DeBacker, Tamara Carlone, Melanie Kurdys , & Karen Braun – Stop Common Core in Michigan

Minnesota

Linda Bell, founder; Kerstin Hardley-Schulz, & Chris Daniels – Minnesota Advocates and Champions for Children

Jennifer Black-Allen and Anne Taylor – MACC Refuse the Tests

Nevada

Karen Briske – Stop Common Core in Nevada

New Hampshire

Ken Eyring – Member, Windham School Board

New York

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Stop Common Core and Federal Education Mandates in the Fingerlakes, NY

Alphonsine Englerth – Advocate & Founder, Flo’s Advocacy for Better Education in NYS

Ohio

Heidi Huber – Ohioans for Local Control

Oklahoma Jenni White – Education Director, Restore Oklahoma Parental Empowerment

Tennessee

Karen Bracken – President/Founder, Tennessee Against Common Core Bobbie Patray – President, Tennessee Eagle Forum

Texas

Lynn Davenport – Parents Encouraging A Classical Education (PEACE)

Mellany Lamb – Texans Against Common Core

Meg Bakich – Leader, Truth in Texas Education

A. Patrick Huff – Adjunct Professor, University of St. Thomas

Utah Michelle Boulter – Member, Utah State Board of Education, District 15, as an individual

Wendy K. Hart – Member, Alpine School District Board of Education, ASD2, as an individual

Oak Norton – Executive Director, Agency Based Education

Gayle Ruzicka – President, Utah Eagle Forum

Oak Norton and Christel Swasey – Co-Founders, Utahns Against Common Core

Dr. Gary Thompson – Founder, Early Life Psychology, Inc.

West Virginia

Angela Summers – WV Against Common Core

Washington

JR Wilson – Stop Common Core in Washington State

Leah Huck, Karen W. Larsen, and Breann Treffry, Administrators – Washington State Against Common Core

Wisconsin

Jeffrey Horn – Stop Common Core in Wisconsin

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Chicken Thieves and Data Thieves: What’s Up with CEP?   3 comments

chick-in-ladle

 

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck stole chickens.  Huck’s father had taught him how to stomach chicken theft.

That reminds me of the way the federal CEP (Commission on Evidence Based Policy) stomachs human data theft.  Huck said:

… Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t ever forgot. I never see pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to say, anyway.

Just as the Finn thieves lied to themselves, saying that they might do society a favor while they did themselves a favor, stealing chickens, so ed reformers and CEP data gatherers lie to themselves and to the public.  After all, the CEP doesn’t do its own thieving; why should it judge or disclose the immoral origins of the data?

CEP simply says that it wants to centrally house data (that’s previously been taken, without permission from citizens, by school State Longitudinal Database Systems and by other entities.)  CEP members wring their hands over the inconvenience they have endured, not fully being able to access all the pii.  So also say the elite researchers and Gates-linked business people testifying at CEP’s public hearings.

Maybe you didn’t know that citizens’ data is being taken without our permission.

Think: when did you receive a permission slip from the school district, or from the state, asking you to sign away all student academic and nonacademic data for the rest of your child’s life?  Never.

Yet SLDS systems do track a child for life.  That’s what “longitudinal” means: through time.  They call it P-20W.  That means preschool through grade 20 and Workforce. Life.

Well, now you know.  And we can’t opt out of the data theft system.  I tried.  The biggest, most vibrant source of citizen data is our public school system, and the government is unwilling to stop stealing from us in this way.

I do not use the word “stealing” lightly, nor am I exaggerating.  Personal data is literally being confiscated without informed consent or permission of any kind, via school databases linked with many state agencies.  Every digital record created by students, teachers, counselors, school nurses or administrators can be stored (and shared) from there.

Sometimes it is hijacked by unethical researchers entrusted with care of the pii.

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No one seems to notice these articles about stolen pii.

And on it goes.  Data points are taken and taken and taken –about both academic and nonacademic lives. Schools feed aggregate data and pii into federally-created “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS). Because SLDS systems use common educational data standards (CEDS) that the federal-corporate partners created, that data is portable and re-shareable (or re-stealable).

Many people believe that federal FERPA privacy laws protect the data, but it doesn’t.  It used to.  The Department of Education shredded the protective parts of FERPA several years ago.  What’s actually protecting student privacy right now is the territorial unwillingness of agencies to share all data.

But the CEP is out to change that.

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CEP will lead you to believe that it’s all about benefiting society.  But that’s a side show, because data is the new gold.   Everyone wants the data!

Sadly, individuals aren’t guarding this irreplaceable gold; most people aren’t aware that this pii is so valuable, that it’s being taken –and that it’s THEIRS.

Meanwhile, the elite at the CEP speak about data as if it’s oxygen, free for all, belonging to all.  It makes sense from their (bottom line) point of view; governments and ed vendors have financially benefited from SLDS’s taking students’ data since about 2009, when SLDS databases were installed in every state by federal grants, and when federal FERPA changes allowed almost anyone access, for supposed research purposes.

Luckily, there’s so much territorialism by the various holders of the taken data that it hasn’t yet been centrally housed all in one spot.  The federal EdFacts Data Exchange has some data. Each state’s SLDS has tons of data. Universities, hospitals, corporations, criminal justice agencies, and other organizations have other caches of pii.  But the elite (the federal government, globalists, corporate elite, and some scientists) are desperate to have one national “clearinghouse” so that they can see and use our data to their own designs.  They speak a smooth line in each of their CEP hearings.  But don’t forget:  that data is your life.  Yours.  Not theirs.

There was a recent three hour conversation that you most likely missed last week. Held in Chicago, this “public” hearing of the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) discussed what should be done with the  pii (personally identifiable information) that federal agencies, state agencies, counties, school systems, hospitals, criminal justice systems, colleges and other organizations have collected.  They’ve been discussing this all year long.

I picture Pap with a crate of stolen chickens.  I picture his pirating friends with their own crates nearby.  I think there might even be a few crate-holders who ethically came by their chickens, but the federal Chicken Evidence Policy says that all chickens go in one central pen, on an ongoing basis, so all the elite can access the chickens conveniently–  conveniently for everyone except the chickens and their owners.

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When you listen to their hearings, you find that the federal CEP is leaning toward creating a federal clearinghouse where every individual’s data can be centrally managed.  CEP is also hoping to overturn the federal ban on unit-record identifiers.

Welcome to the real live prequel to Orwell’s 1984.

Do I sound calm?  I’m not.  This makes me almost unspeakably angry.

While trusting parents, teachers, school administrators and students are being used as pawns in the great data-gathering heist, arrogant members of Congress, of science, of CEP, of big data, are assuming authority over MY life and yours in the form of our personally identifiable data.  And who is stopping them?

Despite a huge number of public comments that told the CEP that Americans want the CEP to get its hands off our data, the CEP moves ahead at a steady pace.  And why not?  We can never un-elect this appointed group that Congress created less than a year ago.  What motivation would CEP have to actually incorporate the public comments?

As the Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out in October, there was only one man in America who seemed to care about protecting citizen privacy at that month’s hearing.  Mr. Emmett McGroarty testified to the CEP that what they were doing was wrong.  Similarly, at last week’s January 5 CEP hearing, there was only one woman who spoke ethically about children’s data privacy rights.  She did a magnificent job.  Everyone else testified that data should be gathered in one place, or possibly in a few places; and none of the others mentioned permission or informed consent. I took pages and pages of notes, since the meeting was only public in the sense that I could listen in to it on my phone.

It wasn’t filmed.  It wasn’t truly public.  It’s aiming to fly under the radar because it’s theft.

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Huck Finn’s father’s plan to later share the stolen chickens didn’t make the chickens less stolen.  Other people’s information doesn’t suddenly become your “scientific research” or your “evidence” for “evidence-based policymaking” just because Congress created a commission and appointed you to chat about it.

Shame on the CEP.  Shame on all who turn a blind eye to this evil, open assault on the basic freedom of personal privacy.

Feds’ Comment on Children’s Privacy: “Ripping the Band-aid Would Probably Not Fly”   10 comments

I am so annoyed.  Those words actually came out of the mouth of the CEP Commission leader:  “Ripping the Band-Aid (of data privacy and control) probably would not fly.” But pulling it off using (in his words) “baby steps” is the CEP’s plan, he said in the video of yesterday’s meeting.

Four-hour federal meetings posted on YouTube are  not fun to watch.  These arrogant –and, let me remind you, unelected CEP members, who we cannot possibly fire (they’re appointed) –spout blah-blah-blah that can consistently be summarized as something like: “… I feel great about the way we persuade the elite and rob Americans of privacy –without widespread knowledge and completely without consent.”

Wait: Before I say one more word: TOMORROW, 12-14-16,  is the deadline for public input on privacy v. fed authority over data —here’s the comment link.

Please comment, even if all you write is something very short and very simple:  “I believe in informed consent.  I oppose non-consensual data mining. Stop this madness.”  Do it, please:   https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

You and I both suspect that zero consideration will be taken by the CEP of the comments from the public. Do it anyway. Don’t let them think nobody sees or opposes this assault on personal data privacy. And yes, it’s about disaggregated data. See the quotes below, repeatedly speaking about PII. (Personally Identifiable Information as defined in federal FERPA includes so much, even biometric information: behavioral data, DNA samples, nicknames, bus stop times, family history, academic history, fingerprints, blood samples, etc.)

Since CEP has disabled embedding of its public meeting,  I’m embedding a video that suffices as a metaphor for the whole thing, before I tell you what went on in the meeting itself.

See how this carnivorous sundew plant injests this insect?  It illustrates the stealthy federal hunger for individuals’ data.  As individuals (the insects) are drawn to the sweet federal dollars (nectar) coming from the hungry plant (federal government) the tentacles of the plant (federal data mining; SLDS and CEDS) become more and more attached until the insect finally loses all autonomy.

Here’s one where a carnivorous plant lures and later digests a mouse.

 

 

If state legislators and administrators would exercise some self-reliance, tighten their financial belts, turn to ourselves (localities) to fund schools and other agencies instead of using federal funds or national, corporate lobby cash, which only give money in exchange for data– then the federal and global data mining traps would fail.

States are stupidly giving away our vital liberties, addicted to the sweet, sticky money that we’ve been lapping at federal troughs.

I am longing to see evidence that our friends in freedom (in D.C. or here in Utah) are making the smallest peep to protect our children from this ongoing, slow-motion, tsunami-like data grab.  Maybe it’s happening behind the scenes.  I pray at least that that is so.

So, unembedded, if you want to hear the federal “Let’s Take Student Data Without Consent” Commission (aka CEP Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking)  is saying, check out this link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXasJLAWgtc

Ironically, CEP disabled the video‘s embedding function (it’s a public meeting) but if you look at this link, at hour 1:25 to 1:31 you’ll hear this question from an attendee, followed by a CEP response that summarizes the event:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question, and I don’t expect you to be able to answer it, but maybe we can start a conversation that could be useful to us.  So, I see census as having made a lot of steps to move in the kinds of directions that are suggested or anticipated by the Commission bill, in that you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have, into the — 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 kinds of things have you thought about?  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“…One of the biggest constraints that everybody involved in this sort of endeavor faces is the 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 state; versus 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.”

Summary: the CEP just said that “ripping the band-aid” of privacy off the arm of the American people will “probably not fly”; so the CEP has got to “do it in sort of baby steps.”

I don’t think I’m going to watch the rest of this dog and pony show.  I’m going to write again to Mia, Jason, Mike and Gary.

What are you going to do?  Send CEP a comment?  Email your legislators?  Say a prayer for the privacy of American people?  Re-read 1984 to motivate yourself to care?

You can attend the CEP’s next public meetings in various places across the  nation by visiting the CEP federal site here.

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UT Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on 750,000 Stolen Records of Students and Families   2 comments

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Judith Pinborough-Zimmerman

A news bomb about the theft of student data exploded in Utah’s Deseret News last July, but nobody noticed, apparently.

The article’s headline — “Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on Utah Autism Rates” — focused primarily on things other than the data theft.  It highlighted former University of Utah research professor Judith Zimmerman’s allegations that university researchers were falsifying Utah’s autism rates.

But to me, the unheadlined bomb that the article dropped was the 750,000 students who had their data and their families’ data stolen by unauthorized “researchers”.  The families now have no way of knowing this happened.

Zimmerman was fired for raising concerns about protected student data that she said the researchers had “compromised and accessed without proper authority.”  She told the Deseret News that unauthorized individuals took  750,000 sensitive records with neither parental nor schools’ consent.  This private “medical and educational information”  included “names, birthdays, information about medical characteristics… special education classification and parents’ names and addresses,”  reported the Deseret News.

How would these families now be notified?  I wonder: with the whistleblower fired and with a years-long lawsuit and likely gag orders pending, the only people who now could potentially contact those families would be still employed at the university –who, being accused of the wrongdoing, certainly won’t go out of their way to inform the affected families right now.

I’m not going to discuss the ways in which the stolen records, and the children they represented, are vulnerable to potential crimes of credit card fraud, health insurance identity theft, crimes of predatory stalkers or the mandates of well-or-ill-intentioned governmental activists.

I’m here to ask –and answer– a very simple question that I hope readers are asking: how could this have happened?  How were three quarters of a million records of children just lying around under the noses of any unscrupulous university researchers?

It’s simple.  Utah has a STATE LONGITUDINAL DATABASE SYSTEM (SLDS) and it’s managed by the UECP at the University of Utah.

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You, your children, and your grandchildren are in the SLDS whether you like it or not –unless you pay 100% of your own money in tuition for a 100% private school, and always have.  There is no other way to opt out.  I’ve tried.

Don’t get me started about how blindly stupid Utah is (all states now are) for having –and continuing to support– the SLDS.

We’re subject to this SLDS data surveillance system simply because in some USOE cubicle, some clueless grant writer responded to Obama’s mess of pottage and decided that the state of Utah might exchange students’ privacy for a $9.6 million dollar federal grant.

Utah traded all students’ data records, longitudinally (permanently) into this data-slurping machine, euphemistically titled the State Longitudinal Database System,  which the feds designed and oversaw— all for the love of money and nonconsensual research.

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Without parental consent, Utah children’s data now is daily being collected –using schools to vaccum it up.  This is not a legitimate situation, but you can’t blame schools.  They are being used.  They have to give daily data to the state/fed system, or they lose funds/grind to a halt.  In a recent Utah rulemaking statement, we read:  “all public education LEAs shall begin submitting daily updates to the USOE Clearinghouse using all School Interoperability Framework (SIF) objects defined in the UTREx Clearinghouse specification. Noncompliance with this requirement may result in interruption of MSP funds.”

So we can’t believe the ear candy we’re told, about how this data  mining is about keeping data on kids so teachers can do their best teaching.  It’s not staying in the local school for teachers and administrators to legitimately peruse, but it goes into the federally designed, federally interoperable SLDS database held at UECP/U of U which many state agencies can peruse and which the feds can already partially peruse.

(Side note:  the feds are feverishly working to get much greater unit-record access as we speak.  If you’re interested, livestream the CEP’s federal public hearing on that subject today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvvatB_NBWI )

Every state has an SLDS system.  The feds paid the states to build them.  The feds told the states how the SLDS’s had to be built.  Utah got nearly $10 million to make Utah’s federal SLDS in 2009.  And the grant’s been renewed to keep trading cash for students, in recent years.

Utah children and their families thus have their data sucked away to where unelected, unaccountable “researchers” are entrusted with data via SLDS.  The University’s “Utah Education Policy Center” (UEPC) is a founding partner in the Utah Data Alliance, which controls Utah’s SLDS system. According to UEPC’s website:

“Five other partners include the Utah State Office of Education (public education), Utah System of Higher Education, Utah College of Applied Technology, Utah Education Network, and the Department of Workforce Services. UEPC serves as the research coordinator for the Utah Data Alliance. UEPC coordinates access for individuals and organizations interested in collaborating with the Utah Data Alliance, or researchers interested in accessing data for research purposes.”

That’s a long answer to a short question.  That’s how the data got stolen.

Here’s the follow up question:  what’s keeping the other millions of records of students from going the same way that those 750,000 records went?

Ask your legislator that question.  Ask him/her to show you any proper privacy protections that are actually in place.  (FERPA was shredded; don’t let them pretend there’s protection anymore under FERPA.)

We do not even have the freedom to opt out of SLDS tracking.  But all of this can change– if more good people speak up– act.

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How did the fox persuade the gingerbread boy to get on his back?  The fox said that he would never eat him, but would surely protect the gingerbread boy from everyone who was trying to eat him on the dangerous side of the river.

On shore stood the hungry horse, the farmer, the dog, the others– and the fox said that he could help the gingerbread boy to get away.  The fox protected the gingerbread boy like the federal government is protecting your child’s personal data.

Every time I read an official promise like this recent CEP statement (and there are so many; even the federal alterations to FERPA sounded like the CEP statement) –I think of the gingerbread boy.  The CEP (federal “Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking”) promises that the government only wants more individual “data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.” I think of the fox “protecting” the gingerbread boy.

That fox wanted to eat the boy just as much as the dog and the farmer and everyone else did.  Even the gingerbread boy probably suspected it, but he really, really wanted to cross that river.

When the government says that it can and will protect privacy while accessing greater amounts of data, I think:

 

River = money

Gingerbread boy = a child’s sensitive data

Horse = educational sales corporations

Farmer = educational researchers

Fox = federal government

Dog= state government

The oven where the boy was born = SLDS database 

 

 

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What’s Competency Based Education?   2 comments

Alyson Williams, who worked in data management for the publishing industry, a mother who has written and spoken much about education and data reforms over the past several years, has just given a speech at the Agency Based Education Conference.

It’s worth your time.

Alyson raises and expands upon many of the issues that are also being raised by other data privacy experts, including  American Principles ProjectElana Zeide, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Education Liberty Watch, Return to Parental Rights, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy,  and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She asks us to consider how current trends toward consent-less gathering and use of student data are to be affected by frameworks already in place (such as SLDS databases) and by new movements, such as the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP) and the Competency-based Education reforms now arising in many legislatures (including Utah’s) today.  She points out that a key cheerleader for Competency-based Education is Marc Tucker, the avowed enemy to local control of education who is, nonetheless, a mistakenly respected advisor to the Utah legislature.  How might Marc Tucker’s CBE Baby affect my children and yours?

Please watch and share with your legislators.

What’s Wrong With a Federal Unit Tracking System? Video Testimony From D.C. Hearing on Student Unit-Record Identifiers   8 comments

The brand-newly created federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP) held a public hearing in Washington, D.C. a few days ago.

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The testimony of Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project (APP) stood out from the other testimonies that were presented, and is posted in full below, with permission from APP.   Many of the other organizations whose representatives testified do financially benefit from the privacy-stomping, data-mining, gold rush, including the  Data Quality Campaign, American Institutes for Research, etc.  But APP does not.  APP exists to maintain local control, constitutional rights, and individual privacy rights.

On the video, Mr. Emmett McGroarty of APP testifies at about hour 2:45 to 3:07.  To see the agenda of who else was slated to testify at this hearing, click this link: final-cep-oct-21-agenda_updated-1

Testimony Abstract:

We urge the Commission to resist calls to repeal the statutory prohibition on the development, implementation, or maintenance of a federal student unit-record system. Such a system would curtail liberty interests of the individual, would invite the collection and use of ever-more data, and would fundamentally alter the relationship between the individual and government in a way that is incompatible with our constitutional republic.

Statement by Emmett J. McGroarty, JD

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking was created to pursue a laudable goal: To improve analysis of the effectiveness of federal programs. But when such a pursuit is used to justify collecting, conglomerating, and tracking massive amounts of Americans’ personal data, as is certainly true in the realm of education, it’s necessary to examine the dangers and the tradeoffs. American Principles Project (APP) believes that such activities suppress the liberties of the people and pervert the relationship between the people and government. We urge the Commission to reject calls to establish a federal student unit-record system and to engage in such Orwellian activity.

Section 134 of the Higher Education Act wisely prohibits the development, implementation, or maintenance of a federal student unit-record system (one that would allow the government to collect personally identifiable information (PII) on individual higher-education students and link education data to workforce data). Recently, though, an orchestrated demand for repeal of this prohibition has been swelling. According to well-funded organizations with a vested interest in accessing that data for their own purposes, the federal government suffers from data-deprivation. Think how much more efficiently our nation could operate, and how much more the government could help people run their own lives, if it maintained a centralized repository tracking almost every conceivable data point about every citizen – where he attended school, what courses he took, what grades he earned, what extracurricular record (good or bad) he compiled, what jobs he applied for, what jobs he got, what salary he made, whether he was promoted, what salary he earned in his new position, whether he lost his job and why, whether he joined the military, what sort of military record he established, whether he was arrested and for what, whether he went to jail, and on and on ad infinitum.

This is not a description of a free and open United States of America. This is a description of a totalitarian society that keeps tabs on its own citizens – for their own good, of course. It’s also a description of what would inevitably happen with the establishment of a student unit-record system, all in the name of “better consumer information,” “accountability,” and “transparency.”

What’s wrong with a federal unit-tracking system?

First, it would compile students’ personally identifiable information (PII) without their consent – or even their knowledge that their data is being collected and disclosed. It’s one thing to collect data from a student who voluntarily (which of course presumes actual notice of the program) participates in a government program and understands that participation will expose his PII to program administrators; it’s quite another to forcibly suck every individual into a datacollection system simply because he enrolled in an institution of higher education. Telling that student that he must hand over his personal data to promote a greater good as defined by bureaucrats and lobbyists – or even worse, just dragooning him without telling him anything – is simply un-American.

Second, the purposes of the proposed system would be so open-ended that the repository is certain to be expanded over time to centralize data far beyond collegiate and employment data. In the creative bureaucratic mind, literally everything can be linked to education. So why stop with employment data? Why not see how one’s education affects his participation in the military? Or his health? Or his criminality? Or his housing patterns? Or the number of children he has? Or whether he purchases a gun? Or his political activity? Inquiring bureaucrats want to know, and every question can be justified by citing “better consumer information.”

And will this dossier created on every citizen become permanent? Presumably so. If the goal of providing maximum consumer information is to be achieved, both historical and current data – constantly updated and expanded – must be compiled and preserved.

Perhaps this expansion won’t happen. Perhaps the federal government, in stark contrast to its behavior over the last 100 years, will stay within its boundaries. But reality-based Americans know the government will push the envelope as far as it possibly can, as it always does. And they know that giving that government access to such a treasure trove of data is dangerous to privacy and to individual liberty.

Third, the idea that this massive repository of PII will be protected against unauthorized access and data breaches is quite simply delusional. Less than a year ago, a hearing of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform revealed the shocking lack of student-data security throughout the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The problems encompass both lax controls over the people allowed access to sensitive data, as well as outdated technology and inadequate security to prevent unauthorized access.

USED’s system contains over 139 million Social Security numbers (largely through its office of Financial Student Aid), along with sensitive borrower information about students and families contained in the National Student Loan Database. The findings of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the General Accounting Office were disturbing:

  •  Of the 97,000 account/users with access to this information (government employees and contractors), fewer than 20 percent have undergone a background check to receive a security clearance.
  • The security mechanisms protecting that data are grossly inadequate. As one OIG witness testified, “During our testing . . . OIG testers were able to gain full access to the Department’s network and our access went undetected by Dell [the vendor] and the Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.”
  • USED ignored repeated warnings from OIG that its information systems are vulnerable to security threats.

That the federal government should now consider ballooning the sensitive data contained in these insecure systems is at best misguided and reckless.

Even if the data systems were secure, the Obama administration’s gutting of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means that government education officials (federal, state, and local) now have enormous leeway to disclose PII on individual students without their consent. Pursuant to the recent FERPA regulations, these officials may share private PII with other government agencies, nonprofit entities, corporations, researchers, and literally anyone on the planet as long as the disclosure can be characterized as an audit or evaluation of a (broadly defined) “education program.”

Will the new conglomeration of student data be fair game for disclosure under these regulations? The danger is too real to dismiss.

The philosophical problem with a federal student unit-record system is that it treats free-born American citizens as objects of research and study. It assumes that the goal of benefitting others in society, in vague and theoretical ways, authorizes the powerful federal government to collect and disseminate millions of data points on individuals – without their consent. This fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. Collecting and holding massive amounts of data about an individual has an intimidating effect on the individual—even if the data is never used. This is even more so the case when the collector has the force of the law behind it. Our republic rests on the idea that the citizen will direct government. That cannot happen where government sits in a position of intimidation over the individual.

Submitted by:

Emmett J. McGroarty, Esq.

Senior Fellow

American Principles Project

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If you wish to testify, there will be additional public hearings in various places across the country.  You may also submit written testimony online.

 

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Here’s a P.S. to all of the above from me, Christel, because I am absolutely screeching and screaming over this and wish more people would get it, would speak up and would speak out.

It does not take a brilliant lawyer to understand how wrong this is– although it’s nice to have the brilliant Mr. Emmett McGroarty, and words cannot describe the debt that freedom lovers owe to APP and McGroarty.

But this unit-record identifier issue is not, at heart, complicated, nor should it be the least bit intimidating –to anyone in this country, of any age or occupation.  Get involved.  Say something.

Ask people to think:

Who holds the keys and drives education?  It should be those closest to each individual child: the parents, the teachers, and the principal.  They are the most accountable and care the most.

But today, because “We, the People” collectively have not been paying attention, corporations and governments have taken too much power over DATA  –and that’s daily increasing.  If CEP goes in the direction that it seems to be going, then soon, individual student record identifiers will track individuals so that governments and corporations can “see” and “help” us all. Heaven save us from that kind of help.

The federal and corporate push for ever more individual data is supposedly to improve education and workplaces for the children, but this agenda does not seem to serve children, but to treat them as “human capital” –experiments, worker bees and lab rats, while making certain groups unbelievably rich, meaning rich both in money itself, and also rich in data –which in our day equals money.

Our country went through the land rush, the gold rush, but now it’s the data rush.

Now it’s data mining instead of strip mining.

WE are the ones being mined—by BigGov-BigBiz-BigEd.

If the push for personally identifiable information sharing succeeds fully, we will not own ourselves.

The sweetest and most naiive among us are thinking, “It’s okay if the corporations and governments know everything about me, about my children, my finances, my religious beliefs, gun rights, sexual morality beliefs and more– because I don’t do anything wrong.

By whose definition do you not do anything wrong?  Do your values and beliefs match those of the government’s so perfectly that you can trust its judgment and its interventions over your own?

Think about what’s going on.

To the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, you are now labled WRONG if you believe in God, because religious doctrine of any kind is only a “pretext” to discriminate on the basis of racism, sexism, etc.  That’s your federal government judging your “social emotional learning” right there!

To gun control advocates at the state and federal levels, you are not concerned about “supporting nonviolence” if you own a gun.

To the federal political activists of the LGTB movement, you are either a discriminator or mentally unwell if you promote marriage between a man and a woman.

And now that SEL (Social Emotional Learning) standards for K-12 are being developed and promoted to track “non-cognitive” factors, starting on children and moving into the workplace, it seems not even our personal psychology is to be permitted to be private any longer.  What types of emotions or beliefs or traditions are mentally or socially “at-risk” and by whose definition?  When we give up power over our own data privacy, we give up at least some control over our own judgments of values.

What makes us certain that the world that federal SEL activists and the CEP Commission wants is the same world that I or you or other free people want?  Just look at what the federal activists are doing!  Don’t give them more power over us!

As Dr. Karen Effrem and Jane Robbins recently pointed out at The Federalist:

“The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) …requires rating schools based partly on “nonacademic” factors.  ESSA …  pours money into SEL programs, “which may include engaging or supporting families at school or at home” … training school personnel on “when and how to refer… children with, or at risk of, mental illness,” and implementing programs for children… “at-risk” of academic or social problems, without ever defining “at-risk”  …ESSA language urges school officials to cast a wide net for special education in school-wide “intervention” and “support” programs, allowing schools to sidestep parental consent requirements. [There’s a] planned revision of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the test referred to as “the nation’s report card,” to assess mindsets and school climate… [There’s] funding for federally controlled and funded “social emotional research” in the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA)—a bill supported by individuals and corporations that will profit handsomely from all this sensitive data to help them mold worker bees for the global economy…  A third federal initiative is USED’s bribery of states to promote SEL standards and data-gathering on preschool children via the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants. These grants, along with the preschool grants in ESSA and Head Start, promote “Baby Common Core”-style SEL standards and data-collection.”

Please find a way to stand up and say no to the call for using “Unit-Record Identifiers,” no matter what the reasoning may be.  Say yes to personal privacy, personal responsibility, and to family-based, individual-based, local control of social and emotional and academic and religious values.

Testify Now.   7 comments

 

The purpose of this post is to ask you to testify this week to the newly created White House Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP)– either online or in person— against CEP’s idea of studying to remove protective barriers on unit-level data for federal access and policymaking.

Here’s why.

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Apparently chafing against constitutional and tech barriers against unrestrained access to student-level data, the federal government, this year, invited 15 people to help remove those barriers.

It’s a motley crew: a British behavioral scientist, an American data crime lawyer, a White House Medicaid bureaucrat, and piles of professors who formerly worked for the feds.

They named the group The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) and passed a law (led by Dem. Senator Murray, Speaker Ryan and President Obama) that gives the semblance of authority to the commission and allows them to post on the White House website.

The law passed in March.

The CEP’s stated purpose is to increase “use of data in order to build evidence about government programs“.

How would this be done?  CEP doesn’t say on its website, but the trend in data mining is to push for unit record data sharing.

Individual students are, in computer jargon, “unit record data“.  CEP promises to focus on “existing barriers” that are standing in the government’s way of accessing data [unit record data included] or, in their words, “data already being collected” [by states, in SLDS systems]. That data is none of the federal government’s business. In my opinion, it’s none of the state’s business. My data belongs to me. My child’s data should not be harvested without my written consent. The state never asked before it began to longitudinally study my child. And now, the feds want full access to disaggregated data to “build evidence” of all kinds.

CEP’s website claims that “…while protecting privacy and confidentiality” the Commission will “study how data, research, and evaluation are currently used to build evidence, and how to strengthen the government’s evidence-building efforts.

In the context of the decade-long Congressional debate for and against unrestrained federal study of individuals,  how can CEP simultaneously persuade Congress that it will protect student privacy while pushing Congress to increase its evidence-building efforts?

I suppose if they gain unlimited access to data but deny access to at least one person, they can call this “protecting privacy”.

They used the phrase “protecting privacy” while they:

  1. Installed fifty interoperable, federally designed-and-funded “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS)  to track the nation’s schoolchildren. There was no vote, no request for parental consent– it was part of the “government evidence-building effort”.
  2. Stripped privacy protections that used to  be in federal FERPA law, which earlier had  mandated parental consent (or adult consent) –for the all important “government evidence-building effort”.

They made scary, transformative changes effortlessly, as unelected bureaucrats dangled money (our taxes) in front of other unelected bureaucrats.  No representation.

When CEP begins its planned study of “practices for monitoring and assessing outcomes of government programs,” and other “studies,” you can just insert your child or grandchild’s name wherever you see the term “government programs”.

It’s all about unit-record data: the kids.

And it’s not a new idea!

In 1998, Hillary Clinton and Marc Tucker conspired to create a system they envisioned as “seamless”; a “cradle-to-grave system that is the same for everyone” to “remold the entire American system” using “large scale data management systems”.  It was exposed, but not abandoned.

In 2013, Senators Warner, Rubio and Wyden called for a federal “unit record” database to track students from school through the workforce.  That was shot down; Congress didn’t want to end the protective ban on unit record collection. In 2008, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act expressly forbade creation of a federal unit record data system.

In 2013 InsideHigherEd.com reported:

A unit record database has long been the holy grail for many policy makers, who argue that collecting data at the federal level is the only way to get an accurate view of postsecondary education…

…[V]oices calling for a unit record system have only intensified; there is now a near-consensus that a unit record system would be a boon… An increasing number of groups, including some federal panels, have called for a federal unit record system since 2006: the Education Department’s advisory panel on accreditation, last year; the Committee on Measures of Student Success, in 2011; and nearly every advocacy group and think tank that wrote white papers earlier this year for a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation…

… through linkage with Social Security or other databases, it could track graduates’ wages… The Obama administration — unable to create a federal unit record database — has offered states money to construct longitudinal databases of their own…”

It is time to stand up.

We missed the public meeting and the public hearing last month, but we can still speak at next week’s public testimony at the Rayburn Office Building.

If you can be in D.C. next Thursday, and want to offer public comment to offset the Gates-funded organizations that will be speaking in favor of sharing unit-record data, please send an email to  Input@cep.gov.  Ask for time to speak on the 21st of October.  They ask for your name, professional affiliation, a two sentence statement, and a longer, written statement.

If you can’t make it to D.C. on Thursday, you can catch them in a few months at similar meetings in California and in the Midwest.

At the very least, you can send your opinion online to the CEP at:   https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

 

My submission to the CEP is below.  Feel free to use it as a template.

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Dear Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking,

I love the American concept of voter-based, Constitution-based, elected representative-based, policymaking.  It’s why I live in America.

In contrast to voter-based policymaking there is evidence-based policymaking, which I don’t love because it implies that one entity’s “evidence” trumps individuals’ evidence, or trumps individuals’ consent to policy changes.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson said something about education that also applies to educational data and policymaking:

“The best way to prevent a political faction or any small group of people from capturing control of the nation’s educational system is to keep it decentralized into small local units, each with its own board of education and superintendent. This may not be as efficient as one giant super educational system (although bigness is not necessarily efficient, either) but it is far more safe. There are other factors, too, in favor of local and independent school systems. First, they are more responsive to the needs and wishes of the parents and the community. The door to the school superintendent’s office is usually open to any parent who wishes to make his views known. But the average citizen would be hard pressed to obtain more than a form letter reply from the national Commissioner of Education in Washington, D.C.”

Local control, and consent of the governed, are two foundational principles in our great nation.

Because the CEP is not an elected body, it does not actually hold representative authority to collect, or to recommend collection, of student-level evidence, or of any evidence, without written consent; and, for the same reasons, neither does the Department of Education.

Because the fifty, federally-designed, evidence-collecting, State Longitudinal Database Systems never received any consent from the governed in any state to collect data on individuals (as the systems were put into place not by authority, but by grant money) it follows that the idea of having CEP study the possible removal of barriers to federal access of those databases, is an egregious overstep that even exceeds the overstep of the State Longitudinal Database Systems.

Because federal FERPA regulations altered the original protective intent of FERPA, and removed the mandate that governments must get parental (or adult student) consent for any use of student level data, it seems that the idea of having CEP study and possible influence removal of additional “barriers” to federal use of data, is another egregious overstep.

As a licensed teacher in the State of Utah; as co-founder of Utahns Against Common Core (UACC); as a mother of children who currently attend public, private and home schools; as acting president of the Utah Chapter of United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE); as a patriot who believes in “consent of the governed” and in the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and, as a current tenth grade English teacher, I feel that my letter represents the will of many who stand opposed to the  “study” of the protective barriers on student-level data, which the CEP’s website has outlined it will do.

I urge this commission to use its power to strengthen local control of data, meaning parental and teacher stewardship over student data, instead of aiming to broaden the numbers of people with access to personally identifiable student information to include government agencies and/or educational sales/research corporations such as Pearson, Microsoft, or the American Institutes for Research.

 

To remove barriers to federal access of student-level data only makes sense to a socialist who agrees with the Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton 1998 vision of a cradle-to-grave nanny state with “large scale data management systems” that dismiss privacy as a relic in subservience to modern government.  It does not make sense to those who cherish local control.

It is clear that there is a strong debate about local control and about consent of the governed, concerning data and concerning education in general. NCEE Chair Mark Tucker articulated one side of the debate when he said:  “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies, much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.”

Does that statement match the philosophical stand of this commission?  I hope not.  Local control means individual control of one’s own life.  How would an individual control his or her own destiny if “large scale data management systems” in a cradle-to-grave system, like the one that Tucker and Clinton envisioned, override the right to personal privacy and local control?  It is not possible.

I urge this commission to use any influence that it has to promote safekeeping of unit-record data at the parental and teacher level, where that authority rightly belongs.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

 

 

 

 

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