Archive for the ‘Data Privacy Matters’ Tag

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.

———————————– ————————————- —————————————–

 

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.

 

 

Trump’s Common Core Pick: Betsy DeVos   14 comments

 

Betsy DeVos, America’s newly appointed Secretary of Education, is quite adorable.  She interviews like America’s Sweetheart, her name sounds like Betsy Ross, and she says she’s opposed to the Common Core.

But the parents who began Stop Common Core in Michigan say DeVos used her Michigan big-funding machine to block, rather than to assist, the Stop Common Core parents’ nearly successful legislation that would have repealed the Common Core.

DeVos’ Greater Lakes Education Project (GLEP) sounds like the Michigan version of Utah’s Education First / Prosperity 2020.  Organizations like Michigan’s GLEP or Utah’s Education First are wealthy Common Core-promoters that give ear candy to, and then fund, any candidate who is willing to take their ear candy and campaign cash. Then they’re obliged to vote as the Common Core machine calls the shots.

DeVos, like Bill Gates, is on board with Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence (another huge Common Core promo tank.)  DeVos, like Gates, also wrote checks to the Clinton Foundation.

So where are Betsy DeVos’s loyalties?

As Jane Robbins recently noted, “It simply doesn’t make sense that DeVos would contribute boatloads of money to – and even lead — organizations that actively push a policy with which she disagrees. Would a pro-life philanthropist write checks to Planned Parenthood because the abortion mill provides the occasional Pap test?”

A true liberty lover would only do this if she, like so many Americans, doesn’t fully understand what the Common Core machine is doing. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.  I know a lot of good people who have only the vaguest idea what the Common Core machine is doing or will do.

So let’s clarify.

The Common Core machine loves money, not children. It clearly steals from children. It really is that simple.

I’d like to see DeVos speak out about the following:

The initiative has stolen academic freedom and privacy.  It is stealing social-emotional data without parental consent.  It is stealing what we used to call classical education.  It is stealing the local ability to make decisions about what will be on the test –and, by extension, what will be in the book and on the essay. It is stealing student dollars that could go elsewhere (to teachers, buses, field trips, desks, basketballs, glue sticks, pencils) and is diverting it to tech coffers: Pearson, Microsoft, etc.  No profit left behind.

Money, money, money –and comforting ear candy– make the machine’s operators feel great about being it’s operators.

ear

Ever since Bill Gates openly courted American legislators in 2009 and identified as a “large, uniform base of customers” the sitting ducks (schools) waiting to be bankrolled, schools and legislative ed committees have become the hot market for businesses and philanthropic activists.  This power grab, away from parents and local school boards, toward the corporate-governmental partnerships, has been monumental.

Core pushers’ “ear candy” sells well.  They make it sound as if the machine’s primarily about ed tech progress –bringing new, good things to kids– but it’s primarily about adults who love money.

How many ed tech salesmen, governors, senators or representatives have really stopped to consider consequences –intentional or unintentional– of the standardizing of everything in education and in education governance?

They’ve pushed data mining without informed parental consent, pushed common, national ed data systems, pushed unvalidated tests and curriculum –on an entire nation of student guinea pigs.

It has been, and continues to be, a mad dash toward Gates’ vision of schools as the shiny, shiny, “uniform customer base”:

If you’ve seen the latest Disney movie: remember how the creepy bling-crab looks at Moana?  That’s how I picture Mr. Bill “Uniform Customer Base” Gates, the ed tech corporations, the government data miners, and the business-model charter pushers, looking at schools.

School dollars are so shiny!  It’s the money, not what’s best for children, that they see.

shiny-moana

 

But as I watched DeVos’ interview in which she explained her vision of the school choice movement, I thought: she’s sincere in her belief.  She really buys the school choice line.

But has she (or most Americans) really thought it all the way through?

It’s as if we were buying a house.  We love the curb appeal and the front door of the School Choice idea. We take a step inside and shout, “Sold!”  But…  what about the rotted attic that no one checked?  What about the weird, moldy basement?  Is there a kitchen?  Are there enough bedrooms?

Why aren’t more people asking SERIOUS questions about School Choice and about the Common Core machine?  Because the words on the surface just sound good?  Because the entryway of the house looks fantastic?  (Who would be opposed to allowing disadvantaged kids in to better schools? Who wouldn’t like choice? That’s sweet ear candy, right?)

The notion of school choice is a false choice, because where government dollars are, government mandates are.

It’s like the old Ford ad:

black

Think about it.

Vouchers for school choice are not reimbursed cash; they’re government subsidies, and anything that the government subsidizes, it regulates.

The beauty of private schools has always been freedom.  Parents can pay the nuns to teach their Catholic children right out of the Bible.  What happens when a disadvantaged child from a Catholic family takes a government voucher to pay for private religious school tuition?

That particular money can destroy that particular school.

By putting vouchers into private schools, we turn those private schools into government-regulated schools (aka public schools) and those private schools will not longer be free to teach –things like religion or morality.  Nor will those private schools be free to continue to protect data privacy of teachers or students; human data is always one of the items that federal monies trade schools for, in exchange for cash.  Read that paragraph again.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune” means that if the feds pay then the private schools, as pipers, have to play what they’ve been paid to play.  And that’s the music of the Common March.

The beauty of (some) charter schools has been the illusion that parents had more say in what went on (almost like a private school).  But under Common Core, that’s changing.  Many charter schools now have businesses running them, not elected board members running them. Where’s the local control in that? This gets rid of voters’ voices, parents’ voices.  With the Great Commonizing, even legitimate, good differences between public schools and charter schools seem very temporary.

Under the Common Core machine– with its federally approved schoolrooms,  nationalized “truths” that trump local academic freedom, federally urged data mining, disregard for parental consent to data mine, disregard for teaching autonomy –what’s any real, lasting difference between what a child in a charter will experience and what a child in a public school or (eventually) even a private school would ultimately experience?  The Common march means there will be no real differences permitted at length.

I am guessing that DeVos doesn’t know that the Common Core machine is building a socialistic, factory model of education according to the vision of the Tucker-Clinton conspiracy.  I’m guessing, too, that she hasn’t heard (or dismisses) what whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt has been saying for years:

“The goal of school choice… is the takeover of the public and private school sectors through partnerships with the corporate sector in order to implement socialist work force training… Carnegie Corporation, in its little blue book entitled “Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies” 1934, called for using the schools to change our nation’s free market economy to a planned economy.”  Hmm– a planned, centralized economy– that means, no local control.  I don’t believe that’s what DeVos really hopes to build.  I don’t think she, or Heritage Foundation, or FreedomWorks, have really thought this all the way through while wearing their Constitution-framed glasses.

In her Florida interview, DeVos said (minute 7:40-8:09) that she wanted people to rethink the public school “system that was brought to us 200 years ago by the Prussians, very much an industrial, factory model of education… Technology has brought so many new opportunities… we need to allow people who are innovative and creative to come and help us think differently about how we can do education”.

I don’t think she understands that the factory model’s exactly where the school choice movement eventually leads:  First, it leads there because vouchers can strip private schools of religious, moral and academic freedom, and second, because if we move away from the elected-board-run public schools to business-owned, no-elected-board charter models, we have erased our own voices and votes even in public education.

 

krisanne-hall

While you’re folding laundry or jogging later today, listen to Constitution-defending lawyer KrisAnne Hall as she explains the trouble with DeVoss, vouchers and school choice in this podcast.

https://podomatic.com/embed/html5/episode/8273838?autoplay=false

Hall notes that Americans are confused about their desire for limited government and local control versus their desire for big socialist programs: “Amongst our conservative circles… we want limited government –unless we want government to define marriage.  We want limited government –unless we want government to control our consumption of plants.  We want limited government –unless it has to do with education.”

She also notes that while Trump wants to give $20 billion in federal grants to poor children— not to all children.  The middle and upper classes are not invited to the school choice party.

Have the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks considered that?

Trump said:

As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty.  If we can put a man on the moon… we can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America…”

If you remember nothing else from this blog post, remember this:

  1. School choice and vouchers are not for all American children; they are for those whom the federal government will designate as recipients.  It’s favoritism and it’s socialism and it’s legal  plunder:  A pays for B to go to the school of B’s choice.  If A doesn’t pay, A goes to jail.
  2. Whether B goes to this school or that one is only a partial liberty because all the schools receiving money from government school vouchers must abide by federal regulations:  data mining kids, removing religious and academic liberty from private schools, and controlling teachers.

 

 


cropped-stealth-assessment-baby.jpg

A Related P.S.

WANNA TESTIFY?

On January 5, 2017, there will be a new public hearing in Chicago, where unit record identifiers and Public Law 114-140 will be discussed. The federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP)’s boiled-down purpose seems to be to cater to the federal/corporate desire for  more student “evidence,” in the form of school-gleaned personal data, minus student/parental rights of privacy/ informed consent; but, to do it with the “public input” box checked off.  So let’s comment.  If you can go to Chicago, go.  If not, submit written comment to CEP.

To learn about the last such hearing, click here and here.

CEP information:

Submit your request to participate to Input@cep.gov no later than Sunday, December 18, 2016

Include in your request the following information:

  • Name and Professional Affiliation (if applicable)
  • 2-3 Sentence Abstract
  • Written Statement (preferably in .pdf format)

Commission staff will inform you of your assigned speaking time and logistical details no later than December 23, 2016.

Visit CEP.gov closer to the event date for webcast and caption details.

Additional Upcoming Meetings & Hearings:

  • December 12, 2016, Washington, DC (National Press Club) – Federal Models for Evidence – Building
  • January 13, 2017, Washington, DC (National Academy of Sciences) – State and International Models for Evidence- Building
  • February 9, 2017, San Francisco, CA – Public Hearing

I would absolutely love to see Betsey DeVos at that CEP Chicago hearing next month.  I would love to see her fight for students’ data privacy rights against the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP).  I want to see her true colors.

I so hope that I’ve read her completely wrong;  I so hope she’s truly opposed to what the Common Core Initiative has wrought.

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.

Testify Now.   6 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.

adobe-spark-40

 

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.

adobe-spark-39

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

 

 

 

 

State Office of Education Operating Database to Track Individuals Without Authority   2 comments

baby

The following letter is reposted with permission from Libertas Institute, a Utah-based conservative think-tank.  It was given to members of the Utah legislature two weeks ago.

It concerns the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) which was implemented in Utah –and in every state, thanks to federal bribery– just a few years ago.

Each SLDS runs according to federal specs and is interoperable.  Thus, the fifty SLDS systems function together as a “de facto” federal stalking system on children, college students, and the members of the U.S. workforce.  Every state’s “voluntary” SLDS feeds its data about citizens to the federal EdFacts data exchange.

Libertas Institute points out that SLDS was created and is being used without voter approval or representation; there was no legislative knowledge or debate, and there has been no effort to promote parental knowledge or to acquire parental/student consent for this massive, lifelong data mining project.

Action step:  after you read this letter, please contact your legislators (here is contact info for Utah legislators, the governor and  D.C. legislators)   to put them on the task of creating, at the very least, an immediate, definite, parental-opt-out bill.

 ————————————————————————–

li

September 28, 2015

To: Members of the Administrative Rules Review Committee

 

Senators and Representatives,

 

The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) will be in your meeting tomorrow, among other

things, to explain the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS)—a large database that

stores a lengthy list of data points on each child in Utah’s public schools. We are concerned

with how this database was set up and how it’s being used; as we are unable to attend the

meeting, we wish to briefly outline key concerns for your consideration.

 

We allege that USOE created, and now operates, this database without any legislative

authorization or oversight. Further, the federal funding USOE has obtained in order to build

and operate the database has required them to make certain policy commitments, as you’ll

see below, that exceed their authority and circumvented any public discussion on the matter.

 

This letter outlines three actions of which you should be aware:

1. The “Four Assurances” promised by Governor Huntsman

2. A grant received by USOE to build the federally compliant SLDS

3. The 2015 grant announced just last week to further develop and utilize the SLDS

 

The “Four Assurances” promised by Governor Huntsman

 

On April 15, 2009, Governor Jon Huntsman signed an Application for Initial Funding under

the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Program, submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.

The purpose of this application was to obtain federal “stimulus” dollars; here is the

explanation from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE):

 

The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program is a new one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Of the amount appropriated, the U. S. Department of Education will award governors approximately $48.6 billion by formula under the SFSF program in exchange for a commitment to advance essential education reforms…

 

Without legislative authorization or guarantee, the Governor made four assurances to the

USDOE—a required step in order to receive any many. Those assurances were as follows:

 

 

1. The State of Utah will take actions to “improve teacher effectiveness” and “address

inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers between high- and low-poverty

schools”

2. The State of Utah will “establish a longitudinal data system”

3. The State will –

 

1. Enhance the quality of the academic assessments it administers…

2. Comply with the requirements… related to the inclusion of children with

disabilities and limited English proficient students in State assessments, the

development of valid and reliable assessments for those students, and the

provision of accommodations that enable their participation in State assessments;

(Inclusion Assurance) and

3. Take steps to improve State academic content standards and student academic

achievement standards consistent with section 6401(e)(1)(A)(ii) of the America

COMPETES Act. (Improving Standards Assurance)

4. The State will ensure compliance with the requirements of section 1116(b)(7)(C)(iv) and

section 1116(b)(8)(B) of the ESEA with respect to schools identified under these sections.

(Supporting Struggling Schools Assurance)

 

Thus, without any legislation to back it up, the federal government was promised significant

policy reforms in the state: common education standards (“Common Core”), new

assessments, teacher evaluations, school grading, and a comprehensive data collection system.

 

All of this was done in pursuit of money; less than a year later, U.S. Secretary of Education

Arne Duncan announced that Utah had been showered with $741,979,396 through the

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Utah lawmakers—and thus the public at large—were left out of the loop.

 

A grant received by USOE to build the federally compliant SLDS

 

Under the same Recovery (“stimulus”) Act, USOE was given a grant of $9.6 million to create

the Utah Data Alliance—a longitudinal database that was fully compliant with USDOE

requirements. While data systems had obviously existed previous to this grant, this one was

geared, as USOE wrote, primarily towards satisfying questions and requirements “asked by

the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Institute of Educational Sciences

(IES), SLDS grants program; the ARRA, Race to the Top (RttT); and the State Fiscal

Stabilization Fund (SFSF) assurances”—all federal mandates tied to funding USOE desired.

 

The Utah legislature did not authorize the creation of the SLDS, to our knowledge. The only

statutory references we have been able to identify refer to the already-existing database. For

example, Senate Bill 82 in 2013 (which passed and was signed into law) had this language:

(e) “Utah Student Record Store” means a repository of student data collected

from LEAs as part of the state’s longitudinal data system that is:

(i) managed by the Utah State Office of Education;

(ii) cloud-based; and

(iii) accessible via a web browser to authorized LEA users.

(2) (a) The State Board of Education shall use the robust, comprehensive data

collection system maintained by the Utah State O*ce of Education…

According to USOE, a statewide longitudinal database—mostly complaint with federal

standards—had been in operation since 2005.

 

The 2015 grant announced just last week to further develop and utilize the SLDS

 

On September 17, 2015, the Institute of Education Sciences—a project housed within the U.S.

Department of Education—announced that Utah was awarded a grant under the Statewide

Longitudinal Data System Grant Program in the amount of _____AMOUNT______, along

with potential continuation grants to provide more funding in the years ahead.

USOE’s application for this grant , obtained through an open records request, sheds light on

the alarming nature of this project. In order to suggest legislative authorization for the SLDS

and Utah Data Alliance, USOE argues that “The Utah State Legislature awarded UDA

partners [individual state agencies] ongoing appropriations to support sustainability of the

original infrastructure (e.g., database, researchers, technicians, project director, and technical

contracts), which demonstrates the state’s commitment to the work and

mission of the UDA data warehouse.” In other words, narrow appropriations for data projects

in state agencies is being interpreted as blanket authority for, and support of, the overall

SLDS project. We feel this a misguided and unreasonable inference.

Further, USDOE’s Request for Applications document specifies that “a successful data system

rests upon a governance structure involving both State and local stakeholders in the system’s

design and implementation.” However, USOE’s application admits that only “A memorandum

of understanding governs the partnership. A governance plan documents the policies of the

partnership and is continuously updated and refined to address emerging governance issues.”

An MOU, which can continuously evolve free from vetted processes and public input, is

insufficient to govern the requirements of such a large database—one that has significant

privacy and security implications.

 

There are many disconcerting statements and policy priorities outlined in USOE’s

application, but our main concern here is that the real “stakeholders” have been completely

left out of the loop. From information we have gathered, the State Board of Education was

unaware of this grant application. No vote was taken on the issue. No legislative

authorization was given to compile this information on every child, make the information

available to state government agencies (including “individual-level data in the UDA data

warehouse”), or provide data to third parties. Most importantly, the true stakeholders are

almost totally unaware that this database even exists; Utah law recognizes that “the state’s

role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.”

 

You may be aware that Libertas Institute organized a lawsuit late last year against the State

Board of Education over its rushed adoption of Common Core, done in an e*ort to obtain

federal money under the Race to the Top grant. (A hearing is scheduled in a few weeks.) We

feel that a pattern exists within USOE, whereby education policy is dictated not with input

from parents and teachers, or even legislators or the State Board of Education, but by USOE’s

seemingly insatiable appetite for federal grants, which inevitably come with significant

strings.

 

If “strings” are to exist, then they must be openly discussed, debated, and authorized—not

agreed upon behind closed doors with the unscrutinized stroke of a pen.

You as legislators have been circumvented and deemed largely irrelevant on this issue.

Significant education policies are being adopted and implemented without public input. We

encourage you to take an active interest in this issue and bring transparency and scrutiny to

USOE grant applications and the policies that necessarily follow.

 

Sincerely,

 

Connor Boyack

President, Libertas Institute

785 E. 200 S., Suite 2, Lehi, UT 84043

801.901.0310

LibertasUtah.org

 

DOCUMENT SOURCES

1  Application for Initial Funding under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Program, http://

www2.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/stateapps/ut-sub.pdf

“State Fiscal Stabilization Fund,” U.S. Department of Education, March 7, 2009, http://

2  www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html

“UTAH STUDENT RECORDS EXCHANGE,” https://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/pdf/

3  Utahabstract.pdf

“INFORMATION RELATED TO FY15 GRANTS,” http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/

4  grant_information.asp

“Enhancing Utah Data Alliance College and Career and Evaluation and Research Capabilities

5  through Web Technology,” http://libertasutah.org/drop/slds_2015.pdf

 

untitle

Open Letter From Idaho Grandmother to Legislature   4 comments

An Idaho grandmother, Yvonne Hyer, recently wrote a letter to legislators.  She didn’t just confront her own representatives about Common Core and student data mining; she signed, stamped, and mailed her letter to one hundred and five members of the Idaho legislature.

On this eve of her ninetieth birthday, Yvonne Hyer told  Idaho legislators that she remembers what she was doing when America’s Pearl Harbor was bombed, on a day when the current Idaho legislators weren’t even born.

Her letter warns, “We had all better remember.  If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible mistakes.

(I have added some historical photos to illustrate Yvonne Hyer’s points.)

 

girls and boys in hitler

Yvonne’s letter explained that is was a mistake to give in –during a climate of dissatisfaction, unemployment and economic insecurity– to the comforting lies of collectivist power-grabbers, focused on transforming schools.

g boyggggggg boys sg1941 nazi elementary school buch

 Actual illustrated children’s textbook from 1941 Germany (notice Hitler’s agenda embedded in curriculum)

 

The mistakes seem to be repeating themselves, wrote Yvonne Hyer: American leaders have begun to walk the school-transforming path sketched out by current elected officials and their corporate allies.  This reminded Yvonne Hyer of how many listened to the then-heroic young leader of the 1940s, Adolph Hitler, and how nobody stopped him from taking over the schools.

He gained control over the minds of the German children who became known as Hitler’s Youth.  This he did in the school room…” she wrote.

girls and boys heiling

Her letter further explains that one reason the German government mandated what went on in the classroom was to indoctrinate students with “politically correct” idealogy.  But there was a second reason.

girl youth

 

It was student (and family) data mining which took place in large part the German educational system:

“They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone who spoke against the government or its leaders, even their own parents….There was a lot of spying, to keep them in line… If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get what he wanted…”

girl hitler

“…Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes. As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday…. Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core….the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database System, and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart“.

Yvonne is correct.

But will her legislators ponder the wisdom of this woman’s observations –and take action?

Are they aware that no student or family is permitted to opt out of the state longitudinal database system, which does collect massive amounts of student and family information without parental consent– and that this database system has been built in exactly the same, federally-prescribed, interoperable way, in every single one of the fifty states?

Do they realize that she’s completely correct– that Common Core is no different from the power grabbing that’s taken place throughout history,  where always, the would-be elites have sought and gained access to and control over the school room?

Do they take a moment to think about the fact that the reason so many were successfully deceived and used as pawns in the widespread power-taking agendas of the past (not limited to Hitler’s Reich; including countless historical examples, past and present, around the world–) the reason for that success was that the official marketing lines sound so very, very appealing?

Will these legislators take a moment to fact check Yvonne’s claims and to fact check the claims about Common Core that gush forth, with exactly the same phrasing, from Boards of Education, federal grant application documents, official federal speeches, corporate educational sales speeches, poised-for-riches Chambers of Commerce and crony moneymakers’ speeches?  Why doesn’t any legislature or state school board use its research team to fact-check and motivation-check?

This wise  woman’s call for the legislators to wake up and stop the takeover of our schools and our students’ data privacy could not be more important.

Here’s the letter:

———————————————————————————————————————————-

 

Dear Senator ________________,

 

In  just four months, I will be 90 years old.  Why is that important and why do I mention it to you?  It’s important because I remember World War II.

Most of you serving in the legislature at this time had not even been born then.  I remember what I was doing on Dec. 7th 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!  Most of us living then, still remember, just as all of us living now remember what we were doing on Sept. 11th 2001, the morning the Twin Towers were attacked.  We had all better remember!  If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible experiences.  I see many things going on in our country today, not identical, but reminiscent of an earlier time in a different part of the world.

After World War I, much of Europe was in shambles.  Millions of men had died in the trenches and open battle fields.  As those who survived returned home, they found the additional human cost was staggering.  The length of the war, four long years, brought all kinds of problems, starvation not the least among them, along with unemployment, industry having almost shut down, with so many men at the front.  In this climate of dissatisfaction, a group calling themselves the “Workers’ Party” was formed.

A young corporal was sent by his superiors to a meeting of the group to investigate.  Dressed as a civilian, he blended in and heard a speaker convincingly describe how to get rid of capitalism.  He was given a pamphlet called “My Political Awakening” which resonated with his own feelings.  In challenging a statement made by own of the workers, he learned that he had a voice and passion that could sway his listeners.  He joined the Worker’s party and advanced in its ranks, learned how to work a crowd and thus he entered into politics and in time became one of the most infamous world figures.  He used whatever means and schemes, regardless of morality or legality, to achieve his objectives.

Adolph Hitler!  What a hey-day he would have had with Common Core’s data mining! He gained control over the minds of German children who became known as “Hitler’s Youth”.  This he did in the school room.

They were taught that the Third Reich was supreme and that its leaders had unquestioned authority; this was drilled into them from the earliest grades up.  They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone they heard talking against the government or its leaders, even their own parents, and they did; it was so ingrained in them. There was a lot of spying then to find information on people, to keep them in line.  If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get the information he wanted.

I know this sounds paranoid because this would never happen in America, but lots of things have happened in our country that we would never have dreamed of.

Of what possible use is all that data that is being gathered through Common Core tests or assessments, and to whom is it important?  Ask yourself that question, and while doing so, let the fact cross your mind, that some of the items of information from your child or grandchild’s “data back pack” might just end up biting you.  Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes.  As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday.

Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core.  There are many other things about this program that I am deeply concerned about, but the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database Systems and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart at this time.

We know that changing the name to Idaho Core didn’t change anything!  We want out!

Those of you not on the Education Committee may not be aware that Common Core is a package deal.  It’s either take all of it, or none.  It is copyrighted by two private trade groups, “The National Governors Association” and “The Council of Chief State School Officers” the NGA and the CCSSO (check: http://www.corestandards.org/public-license ).

We can add a little of what we would like to the program, 15%, but none of that will be included in the assessments.  So if an inquisitive student should choose to study some “outside material” on his own time, none of the knowledge he acquired, regardless of how much effort he put in, or the accuracy or the importance of what he learned, will be counted toward his grade, because it will not be on the prescribed assessment.  When I went to school and even when my children went, students were encouraged to reach out and expand their minds, we even got extra credit.  We were taught that that was the way people got ahead in the world.

If the teachers’ job and salary and the ranking of their school is dependent on how well his or her students perform on the assessment, who can blame them for “teaching to the test”?  Many fine teachers in this awful predicament are disheartened.  This was not why they chose a teaching career.  Few of them dare to speak up against Common Core because they need to provide for their families.

Common Core is and will be more far reaching and intrusive in our lives than any of us can foresee at the present time.  Loss of local control is frightening to me, not just in education, but particularly in education, because of the effect on the minds and hearts of our precious children, the future leaders of our Republic.

Can you please tell me, Senator, why an issue as important as almost completely changing our education system, did not come before the whole legislative body for discussion and debate– time and again?  Is not your opinion on this subject, vital as it is to each of us, as important as that of those on the Education Committee?  Were you not also elected to uphold Idaho conservative values?  You were probably as much in the dark about this as the rest of us; the more people in the dark about it, the more likely it was to be passed, and I think that was planned.

As Common Core is actually being implemented in the classroom and as more people are becoming aware of what this program really is, you will see it becoming more of an issue.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”   -Abraham Lincoln

Since Common Core affects all Idahoans, I’m sending this letter to each of you legislators, with my earnest plea that you will consider the ramifications inherent in such power and control as this program gives “somebody”.

Sincerely,

 

Mrs. Yvonne Hyer

Nampa, Idaho

 

—————————————————————————————–

Thank you to Yvonne Hyer.

%d bloggers like this: