Archive for the ‘communities that care’ Tag

Morgan Olsen: Parental Rights to Review Curriculum and Surveys   2 comments

The reason I’m reposting this article is that there are many things happening in schools that parents may not feel comfortable with, but most do not speak up because they don’t know their rights over their own children.

Many schools administer something called the “SHARP” survey.  Locally, here in Heber City, it’s done in schools.  But you can opt out.

SHARP is an in-your-face survey that asks very detailed, intimate, and intrusive questions, without attaching names to the results. So what could be wrong?

Proponents of “SHARP” or “Communities That Care” or other survey-based youth data collection instruments claim that the survey is a necessary way to assess whether children are involved in drugs, sex, alcohol, violence, or mental ill health.

Others say that these types of surveys may do more harm than good, by introducing children to the ideas of many deviant behaviors they would otherwise not have known about, and/or should be learning about from their parents in a loving, trusting environment rather than on a bubble sheet in a classroom.   Others also say that embedded in the language of the surveys are values that may not match those of the parents.  (For example, some surveys I have seen do equate gun ownership with gun violence rather than realizing that many homes have guns for protection, hunting and to demonstrate 2nd Amendment rights.  See: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/10-reasons-not-to-adopt-communities-that-care-ctc/ )

Children may not have the courage to tell school staff they would like to opt out, but you can send your school a letter to let your wishes be known at the beginning of the school year. Then your child will not be allowed to take the survey.

With that intro, here is Morgan Olsen’s article on your parental rights, with links to laws you can point to when you go to your school district with concerns.

What are my parental rights?

Published at Utahns Against Common Core website January 24, 2013. | By Morgan Olsen  |  Reposted here with thanks to Morgan Olsen.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/what-are-my-parental-rights/#comment-3322

When faced with incorrect school policies and practices, parents can easily feel overwhelmed and powerless. Throughout my Common Core research, I have gathered a few tidbits of law that can help you re-establish your parental rights in the education of your child. Exercise regularly your God-given right to advocate for your child’s best interest, and remind schools and government agencies that your child’s unique needs are better served with a parental representative over a hired one. No amount of social planning, exorbitant spending or teacher training can provide a better representative than an emotionally attached lifelong parent who’s most basic instinct and sacred duty is to lovingly protect, nurture, and guide their child. Regularly claim your God-given right and duty to advocate for your child’s best interest as their primary representative. For as the old saying goes, “Use it or lose it.”

FEDERAL LAW

Right to review Curriculum   (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)

1232h Protection of pupil rights

(a) Inspection of instructional materials by parents or guardians

All instructional materials, including teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any applicable program shall be available for inspection by the parents or guardians of the children.

Limits on Survey, Analysis, Evaluations, or Data Collection (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)

(b) Limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations

No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning—

(1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;

(2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;

(3) sex behavior or attitudes;

(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;

(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;

(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;

(7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or

(8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program), without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor), or in the case of an unemancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent.

Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.

United States Code, Title 20 1232c

(c) Surveys or data-gathering activities; regulations

Not later than 240 days after October 20, 1994, the Secretary shall adopt appropriate regulations or procedures, or identify existing regulations or procedures, which protect the rights of privacy of students and their families in connection with any surveys or data-gathering activities conducted, assisted, or authorized by the Secretary or an administrative head of an education agency. Regulations established under this subsection shall include provisions controlling the use, dissemination, and protection of such data. No survey or data-gathering activities shall be conducted by the Secretary, or an administrative head of an education agency under an applicable program, unless such activities are authorized by law.

UTAH LAW

Activities prohibited without prior written consent (Utah Code Title 53A Section 302)

(1) Policies adopted by a school district under Section 53A-13-301 shall include prohibitions on the administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information, whether the information is personally identifiable or not, concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
(a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
(b) mental or psychological problems;
(c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
(d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close family relationships;
(f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
(g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers; and
(h) income, except as required by law.
(2) Prior written consent under Subsection (1) is required in all grades, kindergarten through grade 12.

Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.

Right of the Parent to raise their child without undue government interference (Utah Code Title 62A Chapter 4a Section 201)

(1) (a) Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children. A fundamentally fair process must be provided to parents if the state moves to challenge or interfere with parental rights. A governmental entity must support any actions or allegations made in opposition to the rights and desires of a parent regarding the parent’s children by sufficient evidence to satisfy a parent’s constitutional entitlement to heightened protection against government interference with the parent’s fundamental rights and liberty interests.
(b) The fundamental liberty interest of a parent concerning the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children is recognized, protected, and does not cease to exist simply because a parent may fail to be a model parent or because the parent’s child is placed in the temporary custody of the state. At all times, a parent retains a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable destruction of family life. Prior to an adjudication of unfitness, government action in relation to parents and their children may not exceed the least restrictive means or alternatives available to accomplish a compelling state interest. Until the state proves parental unfitness, the child and the child’s parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship and the state cannot presume that a child and the child’s parents are adversaries.
(c) It is in the best interest and welfare of a child to be raised under the care and supervision of the child’s natural parents. A child’s need for a normal family life in a permanent home, and for positive, nurturing family relationships is usually best met by the child’s natural parents. Additionally, the integrity of the family unit and the right of parents to conceive and raise their children are constitutionally protected. The right of a fit, competent parent to raise the parent’s child without undue government interference is a fundamental liberty interest that has long been protected by the laws and Constitution and is a fundamental public policy of this state.
(d) The state recognizes that:
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
(e) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children.

~Morgan Olsen

Video and Audio Menu: Interviews About Common Core, FERPA, Constitutional Education Issues   Leave a comment


(This one’s Jenni White, of Oklahoma’s Restore Oklahoma Public Education)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByxgY3wxf0o


(This one is today’s GooglePlus Hangout –about Sir Michael Barber, Pearson and Common Core– with Alisa Ellis, Renee Braddy, and me (Christel)


(This one is the video Renee Braddy and Alisa Ellis made before I’d even met them; in fact, watching this video brought me into the anti-Common Core fight.)

http://radiorecast.com/ktalk/archive/Red_Meat_Radio/2012%200714%20Crockett%20McAdams%20Jamie%20Gass%20Matt%20Piccilo%20Martell%20Menlove.mp3

(This one is Red Meat Radio’s Utah interview with Boston’s Jamie Gass of Pioneer Institute)

http://theflypod.com/episodes/common-core-standards/

(This one is a radio show interviewing Heather Crossin of Indiana)

http://www.4shared.com/mp3/YtQnhXx6/Impact_7-12-12_Pt_2_Christel__.html

(This one Impact, a Heber, Utah radio show, with Bob Wren and Paul Royall interviewing Renee Braddy and me (Christel).


(This one’s Professor John Seddon, speaking to California State University faculty on why they will ruin education if they use Sir Michael Barber’s “Deliverology” methodology, which harmed the UK.)


This one’s Sir Michael Barber, speaking at the August 2012 Education Summit about how education reform is a global, not a local, control issue; and that every child in every country should learn exactly the same thing, and that all learning in every land should be underpinned by one “ethic,” that of environmental sustainability.  See 2:55- 5:30 at least.


(This one’s me speaking to the Heber City Council about “Communities That Care” as a federally controlled, top-down, agenda-laden program we don’t want in Heber.


(This one is Jenni White of Oklahoma’s ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) being interviewed by the three moms about P-20 councils, data collection via schools, and common core.)

(This one’s Jenni White’s presentation about Common Core to Oklahoma legislature)

10 Reasons Not to Adopt Communities That Care (CTC)   8 comments

I gave the speech below, at the Heber City council meeting tonight, asking the council not to adopt Communities that Care, right after three state employees gave speeches encouraging the city to adopt Communities That Care. 

http://youtu.be/YtecukxKAhY  (Click to watch the video of the presentation)

Please write our city council here:

jbradshaw@ci.heber.ut.us

erowland@ci.heber.ut.us

rpatterson@ci.heber.ut.us

phillips1005@msn.com

manderson@ci.heber.ut.us

amcdonald@ci.heber.ut.us

I also shared the actual youth survey itself with them:

http://www.sdrg.org/ctcresource/CTC_Youth_Survey_2006.pdf

 http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Communities-That-Care-Youth-Survey/CTC020 

— and the “availability-of-firearms-as-a-risk-factor-for-behavior-problems” page from the CTC pdf available online here:

 http://www.sdrg.org/ctcresource/Community%20Assessment%20Training/Participant%20Guide/CAT_PG_mod3.pdf

10 Reasons Not to Adopt Communities That Care (CTC)

1. We know so little about the obligations of joining this coalition.  The general public cannot get online access to read the grant itself.  But what is it, really, other than $10,000 of our federal taxes returned to us?

I used to write grants professionally, full time, for a consortium of charter schools in Utah County.  As a grant writer, I learned that federal grants are extremely bureaucratic and agenda-driven.  I learned to apply for private grants from local corporations instead.

Grants are not Christmas presents or free money without strings attached.  Grants come with obligations. What are the CTC obligations?  Has Heber City had a professional grant writer or lawyer assess the application’s obligations fully? I suggest Heber refrain from “getting married” to CTC, this federally operated coalition, before we “date” it thoroughly.

The question is not whether or not some Heber City youth have serious problems that need our help. (We do have great programs in place already that we are underutilizing; I’ll address them llater. ) The question is whether we want/need the federal supervision and lack of flexibility that always comes with federal money and “free training.”

2. University of Kansas has done a study of the pros and cons of CTC.  Citing Univ. Kansas:

– CTC is a copyrighted, structured process.  It was previously private, owned by the Channing-Bete Corporation, but has been sold to the federal government.

University of Kansas  calls the CTC approach “only inclusive and participatory for certain people,” and notes that
“While it claims to involve the whole community, the formal CTC approach is actually top-down, starting with a small number of “key community leaders.” These leaders who may or may not be representative of the whole community in terms of race, socioeconomic class, or interests – then “invite” other participants “from all sectors” to make up a community board of 30. The reality is that they’ll usually invite people they know, who are apt to be much like them and may not represent the true diversity of the community.”

Especially in a large community, it takes research to know whom to include, and 30 may be too small a number to be truly representative of all sectors. Furthermore, some sectors – youth themselves, for instance, or single parents on welfare – are unlikely to be included unless specifically targeted by the process. And if the “key community leaders” see themselves as leading the process, its participatory nature can go out the window.

CTC allows the choice of only a finite number of approaches. University of Kansas found that “CTC’s claim of allowing communities the freedom to devise their own solutions is only partially accurate. Communities can create combinations of interventions that speak to their needs, but only from a limited pool of choices. ”

…”On the one hand, it presents…the security of set curricula … On the other, it can limit the possibilities for creativity and the use of local wisdom that might arise if there were more freedom of choice and the chance for the community to craft its own program.”

– “Choosing from among best practices may encourage communities merely to follow directions, rather than throwing heart and soul into the effort. Though it simplifies the process, it’s an intervention that’s laid out for the community, rather than built from the ground up…

CTC is narrowly focused. CTC “implies taking a small-picture view of community health and development, and not necessarily planning for the long term or for the whole community. If the ultimate goals are as narrow as reducing one or more of the problem behaviors, they can give the impression that reaching those goals “fixes” the problem and the community. If the goal is the end of the process, there’s no community commitment to long-term social change. And long-term social change is usually needed to fully solve community problems.”

– “CTC is, to a certain extent, based on assumptions. While the theory behind it and the best practices have been subject to a fair amount of research, the program has only been shown to be effective in the short- to mid-term range. Long-term data have not yet been collected.”

– “CTC is sold as a package that includes literature, training, and support. While there are some obvious advantages to this, it also means that there can be less flexibility in the model than might be desirable… whether they’re the most appropriate or effective possibilities for the community or not.

Moving on from University of Kansas, I have made the following observations about some additional disadvantages of CTC:

3.  CTC is owned by federal government; it makes us beholden to mandates and rules set by bureaucrats far from Heber City, long after the grant money has been spent.

4.   CTC will require ongoing solicitation of federal funding or finding other grantors or raising of taxes to continue.

5.  CTC adds a layer of bureaucracy and government salary.

6.  CTC asks for archival and ongoing data to be collected and shared with the federal government.  There may be serious data privacy concerns for some Heber citizens.

7.  Most concerning of all to me is blind acceptance of the values embedded in the CTC training and youth surveys.  They appear in some instances to indoctrinate with collectivism, and with specific biases that do not match my own, or may not match your own. (See youth survey questions.)

For example, on the risk factors page,  it places drug abuse and alcohol abuse and availability of firearms in the same category, all labeled as risk factors for behavior problems.  In Heber, a lot of teenagers shoot guns but they aren’t in gangs; they’re hunting deer or recreationally shooting targets.  There’s a disconnect there.  I quote two cited risk factors: one,

“Availability of firearms:  Statistics show that the more available firearms are in a community, the higher the violent crime rates tend to be, and, conversely, fewer firearms in a community is correlated with lower violent crime rates.”   [Yikes. Where do they get those nutty statistics? Ask a Swiss citizen!]

two:

Community laws and norms favorable to drug use, firearms, and crime. ” 

–In the same sentence!  Drugs, firearms and crime.  Some are norms in Heber, some aren’t.  That’s not going to give us accurate data.  Nor will it give our kids the message we want to send them about firearms.  Is it?

Another example.  I quote this from CTC itself: “…The ideal here… is one where the community speaks with one voice about values and standards.”  That sounds extremely collective. We should have many voices heard in our community.  Not one.  That’s always been the American way. Because if there’s only one voice, who gets to speak? Who gets to set those standards for our children– the federal government, or the people of Heber?

There’s also an “innocence alert” issue.  What happens when very young children are exposed to these types of questions?  Sometimes, that’s their first introduction to deviant behavior and it could have the opposite effect on some children of creating curiosity.  On the youth survey, there are specific questions about drugs which would require a child to know the difference between prescription drugs and illegal drugs that I don’t even know.

I quote from the drugs cited in the youth survey.  Do you know which of these are which? :  adderall, LSD, peyote, psychedelics, PCP, ecstasy, vicodin, oxycontin, tylox, xanax, valium, ambien, methamphetamine, crank, meth, crystal meth, etc.  And are you going to ask a 10 year old these questions?

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 “I used it but it was actually 31 days ago,” or “What the heck is Adderall?”  We can write better questions that are more appropriately crafted.

8.  Examples of questions from the youth survey:

  • What are      the chances you would be seen as cool if you a) smoked cigarettes b) began      drinking alcoholic beverages regularly c) smoked cigarettes d) carried a      handgun [umm… Shouldn’t this at least be an essay question? Should guns      and alcohol both be in the same question? ]
  • –Used      derbisol in your lifetime? [what the heck is derbisol and how do I mark      a multiple choice quiz to say huh?]
  • We argue      about the same things in my family over and over. [what a question. Is      there any family in the world that never has a disagreement?  What is the point of asking whether the      disagreements vary or are about the same things?  We should write our own survey at the      very least, and make it essay based.

9.  There are some very controversial issues surrounding bullying-prevention workshops.  And bullying prevention workshops are sponsored by CTC. See http://www.communitiesthatcarecoalition.org/

To many this seems noncontroversial, but in fact, in many places, anti-bullying legislation has been used to promote gay lifestyle acceptance via the protection of gays from bullying above any others who may be bullied.  This may be an unfair bias, and carefully worded surveys may produce student results that try to legitimize what is actually a political agenda, not an agenda of equal compassion for all groups.

10.  Under-utililizing our current resources – Heber City is overflowing with churches, schools, 12-step groups and other resources that stand ready to deal with youth problems.

Families and extended families

Heber City police

D.A.R.E. program

Church youth programs in many denominations

Long established  12-step groups

The WHS Cool To Care program

Wasatch District schools’ guidance counselors

Scouting and sporting programs

I spoke this week with the facilitator of one of the valley’s 12-step groups.  He told me the groups have very small attendance for people of any age and need to be promoted.  The groups welcome all religions, all ages as long as a parent attends if the addict is under age 18, and have separate groups for men and women.  They have groups several times a week for groups that include sex addiction, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse.

Utah’s First Lady has been campaigning for EmpowerParents.Org, a Utah coalition designed to help parents learn how to keep their children from underage drinking.   The organization gives parents resources

Groups that have joined and support EmpowerParents.Org include

Northeastern Counseling Center

Bear River Health Department

Davis Helps

Four Corners Behavioral Health

Tooele Valley Mental Health

Summit Valley Mental Health

Utah Substance Abuse and Anti-Violence

Weber Human Services

Associated Foods

Intermountain Healthcare

Larry H. Miller

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

O.C. Tanner

The Power In You

Utah Dental Association

Utah PTA

Salt Lake Police Dept.

Salt Lake County Sanitation

Utah Attorney General

–and many more

In closing, here are a list of questions we must answer before we move forward with  CTC:

1. What will be our ongoing our obligations to the federal government for accepting the $10,000 and how will we pay for the program when the money runs out?

2. Do we want to use our current resources better, or do we want to add a layer of bureaucracy to implement this program, and then pay for that layer indefinitely, regardless of whether the program “works” or not?

3.  Do the values embedded in the youth survey align with our own; for example, how do gun control, homosexuality, and family privacy issues come up in CTC?

4. What will be Heber’s ongoing “accountability” for the CTC program to the federal government, if it accepts the grant rather than paying for CTC ourselves?

5. Are there better, less expensive, more autonomous or higher quality alternatives Heber can choose to use, to work on youth drug use prevention and other important youth issues?

6.What will be the up-front and ongoing-maintenance costs to Heber City for adopting CTC?

7. How will the privacy of data be assured?

Let’s use our local resources.

Christel Swasey

Heber City Mom

801-380-0422

Euphemism Alert: on Education Reforms and Communities That Care   2 comments

   Is the federal government just unwilling to call anything what it really is?

“Career and College Readiness” and “Education for All” both mean creating a mediocre standard that narrows the high achievers and raises the low achievers to a common, narrow, mediocre standard that aims no higher than nonselective community college.

“State-led” doesn’t mean the states rather than the federal government promoted it; it means the states are supposed to believe they had a hand in starting it before the federal government took it over.

“No Child Left Behind” means no (or very few) decisions by teachers or administrators will be left to their own judgment.

Rigorous standards” doesn’t mean rigorous compared to the best; it means rigorous compared to the worst.  It means mediocre nationalized standards, which are lower for many states and higher for some, depending on the state and the school subject.

“Data sharing” means data baring. It means standing privacy-stripped before a web of citizen surveillance you didn’t vote for and can’t repeal. (Ask around: what do P-20 and State Longitudinal Database Systems mean? Why is E.P.I.C. suing the Dept. of Ed over privacy?)

Sustainable Development” means giving plants and animals equal rights with humans, and making property rights a thing of the past.

Sigh.

So, today I’ve been studying the latest euphemism:  Communities That Care. 

Such a nice sounding name.  Would any community be against it, or want to be one that doesn’t give a hoot?

But the more I study what Communities that Care (CTC) is all about, the less I like it.

 Like Common Core, Communities that Care is a youth-oriented, government promoted, data collecting, reform program.  (Common Core says it’s creating better schools.  Communities that Care says it’s cutting down on youth crime/substance abuse.)  In both cases, voters don’t get to vote on the programs, and state legislators don’t get to discuss adoption of the programs.  A tiny group (city council, or school board) gets to sign the rest of us up for it.

  Like Common Core, Communities that Care is presented first of all as free money.  (With Common Core, the first introduction to it was Obama’s Race to the Top grant; with Communities that Care, our city’s first introduction to it is the appealing form of a $10,000 grant from the Dept. of Health and Human Services.)

But when you look beyond the words, in both cases, these federally funded, “progressive” programs are ways for the federal government to control localities.

Why?

Well, look at this,  http://www.sdrg.org/ctcresource/Community%20Assessment%20Training/Trainer%20Guide/CAT_TG_mod2.pdf

The document is called Using the Communities That Care (CTC) Youth Survey. 

It assumes guilt.  It assumes kids are drinking and doing other detrimental things.

It also falsely assumes that having guns in a community increases crime.  I’ve known all my life –haven’t you?– that in towns/countries where there are high numbers of gun owning citizens, there’s more often less, not more, crime. http://gunowners.org/op0746.htm

Obviously, the authors of this CTC document are believers in having only the government own the guns, and that young people can not be trusted around guns. Well, many people would disagree.

Here’s what the document calls “risk factors”:

Risk Factors and Scales in the Communities That Care Youth Survey

Availability of Drugs

Availability of Firearms

Community Laws and Norms Favorable toward Drug Use, Firearms and Crime

Transitions and Mobility

Low Neighborhood Attachment and Community

Disorganization

Family History of the Problem Behavior

Family Management Problems

Favorable Parental Attitudes and Involvement in the Problem Behavior

Academic Failure Beginning in Late Elementary School

Lack of Commitment to School

Rebelliousness

Friends Who Engage in the Problem Behavior

Gang Involvement

Favorable Attitudes toward the Problem Behavior

Early Initiation of the Problem Behavior

Constitutional Factors

Perceived Availability of Drugs and Handguns

Laws and Norms Favorable to Drug Use and Handguns

etc. etc. etc.

But that’s not all!

Some things about the Youth Surveys are creepy.  See survey here:  http://www.sdrg.org/ctcresource/CTC_Youth_Survey_2006.pdf

Some of the questions seem to assume guilt.  They introduce substance abuse, depression, suicide  and other ideas to the minds of the youth who take the surveys, even those who may be so innocent that they don’t even understand the question.  (Why can’t we write our own, better questions if we really need this type of data for our local police or youth groups?)

For example:

  • What are the chances you would be seen as cool if you a) smoked cigarettes b) began drinking alcoholic beverages regularly c) smoked cigarettes d) carried a handgun    [Shouldn’t this be an essay question at the very least? There is no room in multiple choice]
  • Used derbisol in your lifetime?     [what the heck is derbisol and how do I mark a multiple choice quiz to say huh?]
  • We argue about the same things in my family over and over.       (Yes, YES, No, or NO)     [what a question.]
    Well, I’m not going to spend much time fighting Communities That Care.  Let the local city council make this choice.  As a parent, I’m not going to let them survey my children, anyway.

What is “Communities That Care” ?   Leave a comment

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 lot.

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:

Dear _____,

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.

Christel Swasey

Heber

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.

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