Archive for the ‘Congress Must Say No’ Tag

Big Data Control Freaks, Don’t Tread on Me #StopFEPA #STOPCTA #StopKGIS #StopKBYG   2 comments

How much bleeding out of freedom do we need before we take action –to demand from  Congress an end to the privacy erosion that’s going on in multiple big-data bills right now?  (To track what’s going on in Congress, click here).

Taking liberty, including privacy, for granted is a lazy, dangerous luxury.   We suppose that freedom is as forthcoming as sunlight, but Constitutional norms of freedom are the new kid on the block historically, and both intentionally and unintentionally, Congress –and initiatives of the U.N. promoted in our Congress, are running away with our rights today.

So what?  Still not moved?  Please, then, take a moment for the real “why” factor:  remember what life looks like when freedom gets fully eroded.

Remember the 1600’s  – People who read the Bible in England were burned at the stake  by their own government.  This was a catalyst for pilgrims to leave, to establish this country’s liberty.

How many of those pilgrims would have made it to Plymouth Rock alive, if the English government had had a data sharing system like the one proposed in S.2046 (FEPA) where every government agency can and must share data on individuals, with every other government agency?

Remember the 1930’s – Innocent millions in the Soviet Union were intentionally starved to death under Stalin’s communism.  There were no Constitutional norms for those people to point to, before their lands were eminent-domained (collectivized) by their governments, prior to the extermination of the people.  I recommend reading Execution by Hunger, by a survivor of that time.

Remember the 1940’s – Throughout Europe, led by Hitler, governments killed millions in  state-sponsored death.  The yellow star that Jews were forced to sew onto their clothes to mark them as enemies of the government would be much more easily removed than digitized social security numbers, names and family information that FEPA and CTA  will hand to the federal government through individuals’ data collected by FAFSA, SLDS, IRS, Census, statistical agencies, and more.  Soon after this, in 1948, George Orwell wrote 1984, which I wish everyone voting for big data bills in Congress would read.

Remember 1958-62 – In China, about 45 million were killed under Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” initiative.  You can learn a lot about the erosion of freedom by reading the remarkable history Life and Death in Shanghai, written by a survivor of that murderous time.

(And today, in China, there is no privacy and no digital freedom:  everyone is inventoried, everyone is watched;  everyone is punished or rewarded according to the government’s value system.)

Remember the 1970’s – In Cambodia, millions were killed by Khmer Rouge communists who had control of Cambodia.  The government, unleashed from any Constitutional principles, turned on its own citizens in a way that was not predictable.

Remember the 1990’s – In Rwanda, Africa, close to a million were killed by their government.  (Rwandan I.D. cards had people’s ethnic groups listed on them, making it easy for the government’s military, with lists of ethnic data, to find individuals labeled “government opponents”.  Note:  this is historical fact, not fake news, not fearmongering.  This is an example of modern, governmentally-organized,  data-mining-related, genocide.

All of these abominations  happened because:

1) government had amassed power, including at least some personal data about victims, upon which to base punishing decisions, and:

2) leaders were evil.

But the dead!  These were real people– with nicknames, with holidays, with faith, with families.  They might have had friends in the government whom they liked, whom they trusted– but without a Constitutional fortress in place, good intentions are nothing.

Individuals can’t punish or kill others unless they amass power over them.  Why is eroding freedom not a clear and present danger to Congress?   Why do we keep writing big-data bills and passing them into law, which authorize more and more power of one set of individuals over others?  I have two theories: 1) big money influencing big votes and  2) a pop culture that celebrates conformity, dependency, obsession, victimhood and socialism instead of self-reliance, choice and accountability, virtue, individual worth and freedom.

Ask yourselves this, Big Money and Pop Culture:  “Are control freaks, bullies, and liars things of the past, things of distant places?  Is communism nowadays going to lead to happiness and wealth, even though in the past it has always led to piles of dead bodies?  Is there nothing historically sacred to defend?”

The thing that the man or woman in the concentration camp or the killing field would have done anything to reclaim– freedom– is without question dying as bills authorize unelected bureaucrats and unelected researchers full access to your personal data.  It seems that congressional bills value constitutional principles (that would have kept  control freaks and bullies in check) like used kleenex.

Is it too big a leap for us to say that giving away the average American’s personal power over his or her data is a path toward misery and loss?  I guess so, because so many legislators and citizens  even in supposedly conservative Utah all now sway to the tune of tech-justified, big-data justified socialism — the same Americans who cry patriotic tears when they see the flag pass by in a parade and who campaign with, “God Bless America.”  They don’t seem to get it anymore.

It’s not the left wing leading the pack.  Did you know who was involved in big data pushing now?  Trey Gowdy? Orrin Hatch?  Paul Ryan? Marco Rubio?   What was of such great value that it rose above sacred Constitutional principles of CONSENT and privacy and personal liberty, to these supposed conservatives who are pushing the big-data bills?

Meanwhile, patriotic Americans who read these bills and voice their concerns are being ignored or rebutted by Congress.

Names like Jane Robbins, Joy Pullman,  Jakell Sullivan, Cheri Kiesecker,  Lynne Taylor, Peter Greene, Emmett McGroarty, and so many, many, many others are  exposing and challenging the erosion of data privacy and autonomy.  But they aren’t making headlines.  Please read them anyway.

Some of their brand new work is linked or excerpted below, especially concerning these big-data bills:  FEPA – S.2046, Keeping Girls in School Act S.1171, College Transparency Act S.1121, HR 3157 The Student Privacy Protection Act, and Know Before You Go Act of 2017.

JANE ROBBINS

Jane Robbins, at Truth in American Education, writes about FEPA, “Senators, do you want your children’s and your families’ highly sensitive data shared across the federal government without your knowledge and consent, for purposes you never agreed to?  Do you want researchers or private corporations to have access to it?”

Robbins lists the 108 types of data stored in one agency (Dept of Ed, via FAFSA) and asks senators to consider the insanity of opening up all agencies’ data to share with one another and with private “research” entities.  From name and social security number of students, parents and stepparents, to how much money parents spend on food and housing, to the parents’ net worth of investments, the 108 items are only a tip of the data-sharing iceberg.  She asks senators to stop #FEPA (which already passed the House and will soon be up for a Senate vote; read the full bill — S.2046 here.)

JOY PULLMAN

Joy Pullman, at The Federalist, offers “12 Reasons Congress Shouldn’t Make Lifelong Surveillance the Price of Citizenship”:

  1. Personal Data is Private Property
  2. These Bills Kill Informed Consent
  3. Informed Consent is Key to Social Science Ethics
  4. It’s Wrong to Exploit Americans Unable to Object
  5. Kids Do Stupid Things More Often
  6. The Bigger the Database, the Bigger the Bait
  7. Federal Data Security is Awful
  8. Big Data is Prone to Prejudice and Political Manipulation
  9. No Research or Experience Justifies Sweeping Data Collection on Citizens
  10. Government Doesn’t Use Well the Data it Already Has
  11. Data Collection is Not About Improving Education, But Increasing Control
  12. Americans Are Citizens, Not Cattle or Widgets

She concludes here article:  “In the United States, government is supposed to represent and function at the behest of the people, and solely for the protection of our few, enumerated, natural rights. Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are the sovereigns, and government functions at our pleasure. It is supposed to function by our consent and be restrained by invoilable laws and principles that restrain bureaucrats’ plans for our lives. These include the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. National surveillance systems violate all of these.”

Read Joy Pullman’s full article,  here.

 

JAKELL SULLIVAN

 

Jakell Sullivan has been researching and writing for nearly a decade about education reforms and data reforms that harm liberty.  This recent talk, given at an education conference at Agency Based Education, reveals the corporate-government partnershipping strategy to undermine local values, including religious freedom, which necessitates big-data bills to that align schools globally to UN-centric, data-bound values.

 

CHERI KIESECKER

 

 

When Cheri Kiesecker was cited as one who had falsely attacked these big-data bills, and was rebutted in a handout given to Congress from Congressional staffers, you might have known she had hit on truth.  Why would Congressional staff take the time to research and write a rebuttal to a simple mom writing at Missouri Education Watchdog?!  Read her analysis of the big-data bills here.  Read her rebuttal to Congress here.

She wrote, “I am a mom. My special interests are my children.  I write as a parent, because like many parent advocates, blogging is the only (small) way to be heard.  And No.  My concern DOES NOT “arise from a misunderstanding of what the bill does to the personal data that the government already has”…  

MY CONCERN IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS CITIZENS’ AND ESPECIALLY SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN’S PERSONAL DATA, WITHOUT PERMISSION…AND IS EXPANDING ACCESS, ANALYSIS OF THIS DATA, AGAIN WITHOUT PERMISSION.

It’s not your data. Data belongs to the individual.  Data is identity and data is currency.   Collecting someone’s personal data without consent is theft. (When hackers took Equifax data, that was illegal. When the government takes data… no different.)

If you support parental rights, you should not support HR4174 or its sister bill S2046. “

 

Dear Readers:

Like Cheri, Jakell, Joy, Jane and countless others, we can each do one small thing for liberty.  You could talk to your kids or grandkids about the founding of the USA.   You could help a friend register to vote.  You could call your senators and tell them to vote no on each of these big-data bills that DO NOT protect privacy as they claim that they can. Write an email.  Call a radio station talk show.  Write an op-ed.  Do it even though we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle.  (Actually, do it especially because we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle, which is when the dark side of Congress always counts on not being watched as it passes bad bills.)

I’m asking you to sacrifice a little time or maybe just your own insecurity, to join the writers and speakers whom I’ve highlighted above, to make your own voice heard, for liberty’s sake.  Here is that number to the switchboard at Congress:  (202) 224-3121.

Even if we don’t turn the Titanic away from the iceberg, even if freedom keeps eroding away, we can live or die with the failure, knowing that we honestly valued freedom enough to try.

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This Is The Moment, Congress: We Are Watching You Vote (What This Bill is Really About)   4 comments

obama ed

The Every Student Succeeds Act

(ESEA or No Child Left Behind Reauthorization)

 

 

To read and expose the inevitable underbelly of the latest 1061-page fed-ed bill in the time between yesterday, when the bill slimed its way out of the dark, until tomorrow, when the bill is set up for its Congressional vote (without debate, without reading) is, of course, an impossible task.  We have done impossible tasks before, but I have never read 1,061 pages and analyzed it, overnight.

I’m going to post as much as I have energy for tonight.  In the morning, I’ll add what my smarty pants reader friends have found, as well.  So come back and scroll down.  🙂  If you are reading the bill, please make comments and point out page numbers below.  (FYI I am comparing this bill to its predecessors and you can do the same if you like.)

For those just catching up, know this:  the secret committee released the over 1,000 pages long bill to the rest of Congress  Monday, Nov. 30th,  for Congress to make its reasoned vote TWO DAYS LATER but then they changed the bill–again– and re-released it today, Dec. 1st.  So technically, your reps had one day to read, digest, and debate.

 

mike lee

Only Senator Lee has stood up to this procedural injustice.  Only he is a clear “NO” vote, that I know of.  Other Utahns: Senator Hatch, Representative Chaffetz and Representative Love, for example, are reading the bill today before they commit to a yes or a no vote this week, say their staffers.

This lack of commitment is something that I cannot understand.

Why wouldn’t Congressmen’s default vote be a “no,” based on the fact that the process has veered far from honest and proper procedural protocol?  Why not fight for the right to take a reasonable approach to actually study and debate the bill openly?

Congress is on the verge of passing this bill dishonorably while the only ones very excited about the bill (besides the Secretary of Education) are the bling-bling bipartisan lobbyists working for gold-rushing tech companies wishing to drain tax dollars into their pockets. These tech companies and ed sales corporations advise or partner up with the feds, saying smooth sounding stuff that poses as education — but education, the word itself, has been hijacked.

Corporate-partnered fed ed, served by this bill, is a top-down, one-sized, freedom-constricting, teacher-controlling, student data-stalking Frankenstein.  I don’t care if it’s left or right wing spawned.  It is wrong.

It is not education.

Any Representative or Senator who votes to pass this nation-binding law in such blind circumstances better prepare. There will be political careers lost– that will trace their demise back to this moment.  This is the moment, Congress.

 

titanic

 

Hold Congress accountable.  Call and tweet.  Call 202-224-3121 to tell Congress: vote no.    We, the people, are watching this vote.

Now, to business of this bill.

I’ll post the page number or section, the direct quote from the bill, and why it’s a concern. (There is no way this will be thoroughly done in so little time.  Not a chance. But it will give you the gist of the bill.  And you will understand why pushers have gotten into the habit of putting out lying talking points –“reduce the federal footprint”; “restore power to states”– to get the darn bills passed.)

 

  ————————–

“EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT OF 2015”  aka ESEA  link here)

My friend Karen Bracken, a patriot warrior mom, wrote, “Even the title concerns me.  How do you ensure that Every Student Will Succeed?  The only way you can do that is by dumbing-down education to the point in which even a cat could graduate.”  Does that make you laugh or cry?

If you read the title and the table of contents, you will see the micromanagement right away.  But let’s start with section 1003.  It deals with money and how states will be micromanaged if they want to see any of it.  The bill calls it “School Improvement.”  I’ve renamed it “How States Can Beg for A Piece of Their Own Tax Dollars Back“.

Here, the feds dictate (page 24) what percentage of funds the state will use and for what purpose.  (7 percent for this, not less than 95 percent for that, 3 percent for this… on and on through page 32).

The feds dictate that the states then must turn around and inflict fed-like micromanagement on localities; they must be “monitoring and evaluating the use of funds by local education agencies” (page 26) and must give out monies to localities only if they “demonstrate the strongest commitment to using funds…[as feds see fit] and states must “align other Federal, State and local resources“.

(There’s that word “align” that we have read ten billion times in the past four years as we read official documents implementing Common Core and Common Data Standards.  The word pops up again on page 33:  “coursework that is aligned with the challenging State academic standards“.  They’ve now dropped  references to Common Core State Standards as well as any reference to College and Career Ready Standards.  But the word “aligned” they have not dropped.  It’s in the document 72 times, and,  notably, the word “standards” is in the document 269 times and “challenging state academic standards” is repeated 24 times; just not “Common Core” labeled anymore.  To me, “align” in ed reform now means to superglue to a global sameness; it means forget about scholastic creativity or imagination; it means forget about originality or home-grown ideas and powers.  It means that you are not represented; you are assimilated.   But I am off on a tangent.)

Pages 34 and 35 repeat the mantra that funds must be prioritized to low-achievers.  (First of all, how dare you tell a state how to prioritize its funds?  Secondly, how are the feds so sure that mid and high achievers won’t mind losing funding for their misdeed of having achieved?  Are mid or high achievers’ needs not all that important, anyway?)  Harrison Bergeron comes to mind; this is the Handicapper General at work.

Page 36 promises “a sufficient number of options to provide a meaningful choice for parents” which is a lie, of course; think about it.  Federal laws and conditional monies mean using federally approved standards and tests and CURRICULUM in every school receiving federal funds.  This is far from meaningful and it represents an extremely narrowed and controlled set of choices.  Meaningful does not happen in an atmosphere of standardized everything, just as wonderous meals do not bloom in the kitchens of McDonald’s.

Page 37 dictates that American tax dollars may only “provide instruction and content that is secular“.  This is old news.  But it is not old news that federal funds are increasingly being offered to private schools.  Does this mean that the feds are softening and will share taxpayers’ dollars with those who choose to attend private religious schools?  No.  It means that private schools are being coerced to secularize their core curricula and services so that they may receive federal money.

Page 38 is Section 1111:  STATE PLANS.

We’ll rename this one “Mother May I?”  (Thanks, Wendy Hart.)

States say:  “Mother, May I adopt these standards?”  Secretary of Education or his appointees say “no”.  Rinse and repeat until states eventually ask to adopt what the Secretary has already settled upon.  Here’s how it works:

Page 38:  “…State educational agency shall file will the Secretary a plan” which must meet, among other things, “Secretarial Approval” (page 39 line 23) and must be approved by a review team appointed by the federal Secretary of Education. (page 39-40)  That team (page 42) will have the authority to disapprove a state plan.  The state may revise its plan, appeal for a hearing (page 43) but ultimately, the process will “promote effective implementation of the challenging State academic standards [aka Common Core]” (page 43).

crying stopesea

If ANYONE tries to tell you that this bill gives power to the States, point to these pages.  With such huge veto-wielding power, and review team appointing power, the Secretary becomes king over anything any state wants to do.  This is not good.  You can stop here.  That’s enough ammo.  VOTE NO.

I have to point out some sickening hypocrisy on page 44.  The review team must provide “objective feedback to the States” with “respect for State and local judgments with the goal of supporting State and local-led innovation“.  If your goal is to support State innovation, why not return to the Constitution which gives exactly ZERO authority to the feds in anything relating to education, tests, standards, or teachers!?

More hypocrisy on the same page: “Neither the Secretary nor the political appointees of the Department may attempt to participate in or influence the peer review process”.

On page 45:  “If a state makes significant changes to its plan at any time, such as the adoption of new challenging State academic standards or new academic assessments or changes to its accountability system… such information shall be submitted to the Secretary…”

Same page:  “If a State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section, the Secretary may withhold funds…” MICROMANAGEMENT HEAVEN.

A bit of a toothless joke on page 47:  “The State, in the plan it files… shall provide an assurance that public comments were taken into account”.

Page 47 also gives us this sobering mouthful:  “Each state, in the plan it files… shall provide an assurance that the State has adopted challenging academic content standards and aligned academic achievement standards (referred to in this Act as ‘challenging State academic standards’), which achievement standards shall include not  less than 3 levels of achievement…”  If you have studied how children are assessed, tracked and predestined to relegated top, middle, or bottom schools and careers in nations shackled by communism and socialism, this will make you very unhappy.

Page 48 says the state MUST align its standards to colleges and to tech-ed schools.

Page 49 says that only a small percentage of special education students– those with “the most significant cognitive disabilities” may be excused, and may use alternate standards, and only then if those alternate standards are “aligned with the challenging State academic content standards”.  On page 50 it adds that that severely disabled person must be “on track to pursue postsecondary education or employment” whether they want to or not.  The feds are not kind to special education students.  And they won’t let states determine these matters anymore.  Sadly, we already knew all of this was coming.

Page 51 offers us another blistering contradiction:  “The Secretary shall not have the authority to mandate, direct, control, coerce, or exercise any direction or supervision over any of the challenging State academic standards…”  Tell me how that works with page 45.   He can withhold funds and disapprove plans if the state files a plan that he doesn’t like for a slew of reasons that could include using curriculum, tests or standards that aren’t aligned to his vision of fed ed and he can mandate that the state has to use the exact same standards in every one of its schools (page 52 line 21) — but he in no way supervises the State’s standards?

Page 52 deals with “Academic Assessments”.  Feds dictate to states that the tests shall be the same in every school in the state (line 23) and that they will be “administered to all public elementary and secondary school students in the State” (page 53).  Does this end –or aim to end– the parental right to opt out of testing?  (See page 76 below)

Page  53 is an admission.  The bill says that the tests may not be used to “publically disclose personally identifiable information”.   They can’t disclose it publicly, but they can sure store it indefinitely.

Subtly, page 53 forces Common Educational Data Standards because the feds dictate that state tests must be:  “consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical testing standards”.

Next, the dictators tell states when and how much to test children:

page 54:  in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (every year) for math and language arts

in grades 9, 10, 11, 12 (at least once)

in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 for science (at least three times in those years)

On page 55, the dictators bring down the hammer:  “the participation in such assessments of all students”.  ALL.

On page 58 we see the racism and other -isms of the Department of Education: States are told that they must disaggregate test data by ethnicity, race, economics, disability, English proficiency, gender, and migrant status. 

On page 59 we see the toxic term “universal design for learning“.  Tests are to be developed using IMS Global education standards.  This means not just state or national, but global sameness and tracking.  Is that a good idea or a bad one?  Is that something that we ought to have Congress think about for more than one day prior to a vote?

On page 61 the feds are dictating to states that no more than one percent of students may be considered so disabled that they may take alternate-standards-based tests.  “The total number of students assessed… using alternate assessments does  not exceed 1 percent of the total number of all students in the State”.  Later, on page 65, the bill says that there is no cap; but that schools must submit information “justifying the need to exceed such a cap”.  It also notes that the State shall provide “oversight” of any school required to submit justifying information.  In other words, States must show that they are monitoring schools’ decision making.

How would the federal government ever know whether a state happened to have fewer, or a greater number of students who needed and deserved something other than what the highest achieving students can and should do?  On what basis does it dictate one percent?  What if my child is severely disabled and is forced to take the common tests and to be taught to common standards inappropriate for him or her, because of the high number of students with disabilties?  How does that bless my child?

On page 62 they’re dictating “universal design for learning” again; this time, for severely disabled special education testing.

Page 66 is literally jaw-dropping to me.  It says that if the state “provides evidence which is satisfactory to the Secretary that neither the State Educational Agency nor any other State government official… has sufficient authority under State law to adopt challenging State academic standards and academic assessments aligned with such standards [aka Common Core standards and tests] which will be applicable to all students enrolled in the State’s public elementary schools and secondary schools, then the State educational agency may meet the requirements…”  by aligning unofficially anyway, by meeting “all of the criteria…and any regulations… that the Secretary may publish”.  (page 67)   If your state law doesn’t allow for one size fits all, then adopt and implement policies that ensure that you are aligned anyway, or lose funding.  Talk about kicking Constitutional rights in the teeth.  This is dictatorship.

On page 69, states are told to dictate to schools again.  They must filter tests through the filter of “already been approved” (line 18) or they must “conduct a review of the assessment to determine if such assessment meets or exceeds the technical criteria” that has to be “established” (line 9) by the state.  This sounds to me like more herding of everybody into IMS Global’s universal design for learning.

On page 73, it almost sounds good until you finish the sentence.  It begins, “a State retains the right to develop and administer computer adaptive assessments, provided that….” and then we lose all the rights again, because they have to be aligned, aligned, aligned.

On page 76, it says that States can still decide whether or not to allow parents to opt out of testing but limits that concept to one paragraph:  “nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting State” law.  So, in the rest of the over-1000-page bill, something might.  This is not making me feel better.

How many dictatorial mandates, contradictions, hypocrises, manipulations and usurpations of local control have I related in this first tiny section of this bill?

Now, it is 1:30 a.m.   I have to go to sleep.

There are 985 pages that I (and probably my congressional reps) are leaving unread.  

–In a few short hours, Congress votes anyway.  Watch it here.

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