Archive for the ‘federal intrusion’ Tag

Not Misinformed: We Know What It Is And We Reject It   3 comments

If we remain bound to the Common Core stranglehold, it will be because a low-information citizenry passively buys the unsubstantiated claims of the proponents of Common Core without doing their own homework on this crucial subject.

Our state school board refuses to let go of its praise-common-core talking points. And it continues to call those of us who care about local control and high, legitimate education standards, “misinformed” even though they won’t return emails letting us know what specifically we seem to be so misinformed about.

Today I read this blog post by Tami Pyfer of the USSB on Utah Policy. http://utahpolicy.com/view/full_story/22848521/article-We-Do-Deserve-Better?instance=newsletter_featured_articles_policy

Here’s what I think as I read her post:

Yes, we deserve better.

We deserve fact-checked information from our state school board. State school board members are in a position of trust and should be held to higher standards. Misinformation being spouted by elected board members is cause for concern.

The Common Core agenda has been presented as being so rigorous, so consensually adopted (which is was not) and so academically legitimate that it is beyond debate. The fact is that the Common Core is a liability, rather than an asset, both in terms of liberty and local control, and in terms of academic strength.

It concerns me, bothers me, and keeps me up at night, that as a credentialed Utah teacher, I am not allowed to meet with my own state school board members, face to face, to get real answers to my concerns about Common Core. I have gone out of my way to try to communicate, to find out what exactly is “erroneous” (their words) about my concerns, but my emails are not being responded to.

There are simple questions.

“Where is the evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?”
“Where are the long term studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?”
“Where is the amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards under the copyrighted Common Core?”
“How can I opt out of the SLDS tracking system?”
“Where is the legal –constitutional– authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?”
“Why is Utah allowing Obama to redesign our schools without putting up a fight?”
“Why is there a culture in education today that demands everyone agree or pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in all of the Common Core agenda, when teachers and principals fear to dissent or lose their jobs?”
“Where is the evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms, improves college readiness?”
“Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher trainings and texts?

— There are many, many more questions that need answers. Yes, State School Board, we do deserve better. When will you condescend to actually speak with those who elected you to serve us?

When will you listen? Did you not notice that the Utah State Delegates disapprove Common Core? They voted and they passed the anti-common core resolution. Utah doesn’t want Common Core. Why is the board still defending it?

We are not misinformed. We know what it is we reject it.

When will your board stand up to the federal Dept. of Ed. and its tsunami of assault on liberties, rather than fighting us, the locals who desire nothing more than liberty and high quality education?

Utah Republican Delegates to Governor and State School Board: Withdraw Utah From Common Core   3 comments

Utah’s Republican state delegates sent a clear message to the Governor, Utah legislators, and to the State Office of Education at Saturday’s GOP convention when 65% of the state delegates voted yes to support the resolution written by Utahns Against Common Core.

Utah’s delegates are calling on Governor Herbert and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from Common Core, and are calling on the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding all programs in association with the Common Core Initiative.

If you missed the GOP convention, here’s what happened.

An ocean of people swarmed in from every corner of Utah to the South Jordan Expo Center Saturday to debate and vote upon the issues of the day.  Present were the Governor and his bodyguard;  legislators, activists, school board members; candidates for political offices, and 2,584 delegates.  The swarm began before 7 a.m. and didn’t end until late in the afternoon.

At the Utahns Against Common Core booth there was a video loop showing the audience current, common core aligned textbooks that are approved for Utah schools.  The booth also featured a handful of teachers and parents, answering questions about why they opposed Common Core.  (The video that was looped is viewable here.  For further analysis of these texts from a Utah mental health therapist’s view —  see this video, too.)

There were more delegates clustered around the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC)  booth than around any other, by a long shot.  Many of the delegates signed the UACC petition, wore Stop Common Core buttons and stickers, and asked questions because of the conflicting (and may I point out, unreferenced) information coming from the State Office about Common Core.

I told delegates near our booth that I dislike the mandates of the common standards and I don’t believe for a minute that they are the solution to our educational problems.  (It seems a no-brainer that it’s harmful, not helpful, to lessen the amount of classic literature that a child may read, and to delay the age at which students learn basic math algorithms, etc.)

But academics are not the key issue; academic problems can normally be fixed, but under Common Core there is not even an amendment process.  These are copyrighted, D.C.-written, common standards.

Without a written amendment process, it’s a case of education without representation.  It’s a case of giving up the ability to even debate what the standards for Utah children ought to be.  It’s a case of allowing the federal government, and the philosophies (and money) of Bill Gates-Pearson Co., to micromanage local educational decisions.

Driving home, after four hours, I wondered if the resolution for local control would pass.  It did not seem likely even though our resolution closely matched the Republican National Committee’s anti-common core resolution that  had passed earlier this year in California.

But in Utah, the GOP committee had given our resolution an “unfavorable” rating, saying that the wording was inflammatory.   The Governor was against us, having long been promoting Common Core and a related project, Prosperity 2020, very openly.  The State Office of Education was against us and had been passing out pamphlets, fliers and stickers to “support common core” –and had sent mailers to delegates, telling them to support common core.  (They used our tax money for this. Since when is tax money used to lobby for one side?)

And the media were generally against us.  Both the Tribune and KSL  had been covering this issue mostly from a pro-common core point of view.

So I was just thankful that we had gotten the opportunity to educate people at our booth.  I hoped for, but didn’t expect, the miracle  of the resolution passing.

Four hours later, I was completely stunned with the great news.  Alisa, my friend and a state delegate, texted me one word:  “PASSED!!!!”

Our resolution passed!  It did match the feelings of a majority of Utahns.  65% of the elected state delegates in the State of Utah voted NO to Common Core.

It was a welcome surprise.

Delegate friends filled me in on the details of what I’d missed.  I learned that the  powers-that-be tried their best to muffle the resolution.  They held it to the very end, after multiple speakers and presentations and other votes were held.  Some even called for the meeting to adjourn before the resolution could be debated on the stage.  There was a vote about whether to adjourn that was soundly defeated by the delegates.

Finally the resolution was debated.  There were elecrifying speeches, for and against. Then there was the vote.

Sixty five percent voted for it to pass!   That’s well over a thousand people, elected by their neighbors, from caucuses in every corner of Utah, who all said NO to Common Core.  This is huge, huge news to teachers, school boards, parents, students, and politicians, regardless of which side of the argument you choose.

But it didn’t make the Tribune.  It didn’t make the Deseret News. It didn’t make the Daily Herald or KSL.

Who knows why?  Sigh.

Looks like we have to spread this one by social media, folks.  There are powerful people who want to muffle the voice of WE, THE PEOPLE.

Let’s not let them get away with it.

Interview: Data Collection With Jenni White of Oklahoma R.O.P.E.   7 comments

There may be someone in America who has studied the education data collection scheme more than Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education. But I haven’t found that person. Here’s a video interview that Alisa, Renee and I filmed with Jenni this week.

Highlights:

What is the State Longitudinal Database System?
Why does every state track every citizen with the SLDS?
What is the P20 system?
Why did the federal government pay every state many millions to build the system?
Why did they require states to build interoperable systems if they were not to share data outside the state?
How do schools, prisons, hospitals and military agencies now share data?
Is this really just career path assistance or is it citizen surveillance?

Because Stalking is Creepy –Especially When the Government Does It   Leave a comment

Michelle Malkin’s true to her word. She said her New Year’s Resolution would be to expose the truth about Common Core, and she’s well on her way. Her fourth installment in the series “Rotten to the Core” is out.

In “The Feds’ Invasive Student Tracking Data Base” Malkin brings up the fact that while millions of Americans worry about government drones spying on citizens from the skies, millions are unaware that Washington is already spying on us using a web of recent “education reforms” known as the Common Core Initiative.

Malkin shares a link to the National Data Collection Model which asks states to report intimate details of an individual’s life, including bus stop times, parental names, nicknames, languages spoken, and more.

Reading her article made me think of last year’s “child privacy no more” revelation.

Last year, when I first learned these student data tracking facts, I contacted my state school board to ask if there was an opt-out privilege.  Could my public school attending child NOT be intimately tracked by the state’s SLDS data collection system?  The answer came back, eventually.  They said NO.  They blamed it on the technology: the technology doesn’t allow us to opt certain children out.

Agencies mashing data = citizen surveillance but under the nice concept of "sharing".

The idea of “data driven decision making” has become a passion to many educrats, corporate icons  and government leaders (Think Obama, Duncan, Joanne Weiss,  –or Utah’s  own John Brandt, David Wiley, and Judy Park).

“Data Driven” is a  concept used as justification  for behavior that in the end amounts to corporate/government stalking of children –without any parental consent.

I’m not using the word “stalking” facetiously. Does the governmental obsession with personal data collection differ from stalking?

Individual stalkers have their reasoning for doing what they do, that makes sense to them, just as gleaning student data without parental consent  that makes sense in Utah’s education leaders’ own heads, too.

I can think of only one answer to the question of how these differ:  an individual stalker tends to stalk just one person at a time and rarely “inspires” millions to help stalk.

So what do we do? Let’s look at our options. We can:

1. Dismiss facts and call student stalking by government a silly conspiracy theory —even though there’s nothing secret about it— as many do.

or–

2. Wake up, stand up and tell our state leaders that we and our children have had enough.

J.R. Wilson: Parents Need to Know About Student Data Privacy

Our Governor’s To-Do list:

1. Read the Constitution closely and think about what freedom looks like, in comparison to what Utah leaders promote;

2. Shut down Utah’s SLDS, P-20, and Prosperity 2020 systems;

3. Fire John Brandt, Judy Park, the Utah Data Alliance staff, and everyone who works as if “1984” was an instruction manual for school improvement;

4. Stop accepting money and directives from the Dept. of Ed.;

5. Cancel membership with the National Governors’ Association;

6.  Get rid of the trojan horse of Common Core which serves the tracking goals of the federal and corporate elite;

7. Insist that only parents of school-aged children, people who honor freedom, not socialism –and know the difference– serve on any school board;

8.  End cradle to grave tracking in the state.

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

Federal Government Bypasses States and Approaches School Districts with Cash for Compliance   1 comment

Excerpts from a Heritage Foundation article by Lindsey Burke  – August 17, 2012  http://blog.heritage.org/2012/08/17/race-to-the-top-for-school-districts-more-federal-education-intervention/

Race to the Top for School Districts: More Federal Education Intervention

The Obama Administration’s new Race to the Top District (RTT-D) competition, a competitive grant program on top of the more than 100 programs the Department of Education (DOE) already operates, entices cash-strapped school districts with another $400 million to implement the Obama education agenda…

The last thing our struggling education system needs is for local school districts to become dependent on Washington for education funding, further centralizing school-level policies in the hands of federal bureaucrats.

RTT-D is an offshoot of the original Race to the Top (RTT), the Obama Administration’s $4.35 billion competitive grant program to states carved out of the “stimulus.” The DOE says the new district-level program will “help schools become engines of innovation”…

Concern about the Administration’s push to nationalize the content taught in schools across America through the Common Core State Standards led some states to pass on the original RTT competition. States like Alaska, Texas, and North Dakota have never applied for RTT grants. Under the new district-level competition, the feds will appeal directly to school districts, offering up millions in exchange for adoption of the White House’s preferred policies.

    Applicant districts must agree to implement the four core components of RTT (common standards, teacher evaluations, data systems, and the Administration’s school turn-around model), and must secure school board and teacher union buy-in for their application.

The DOE notes that all school districts with more than 2,000 students are eligible to apply, including those districts in states that did not apply for RTT grants. While smaller school districts may pull together to apply for a grant, the 2,000-student minimum biases larger districts, making it unlikely that small rural school districts will be winners of one of the 15–25 grants that are awarded.

The Administration has demonstrated a pattern of circumventing Congress on key education policy issues. It set an arbitrary deadline for No Child Left Behind reauthorization, and when Congress (in the midst of a thoughtful debate about the future of the nation’s largest education law) failed to meet it, began offering strings-attached waivers to states that agreed to implement the White House’s education agenda. Now the Administration will circumvent states that have chosen not to apply for RTT grants and dangle up to $40 million each to districts willing to toe the line.

It’s another step in centralizing education control and a continuance of Washington-centric education policy that has burdened taxpayers, encumbered states, and failed students for the last half-century.

Alisa Ellis: To Wasatch School Board July 2012   Leave a comment

Mr. Judd,

Thank you for taking the time last month to sit down with us as concerned citizens and listen to our concerns.  As I told you last month I would not be expending a lot of energy pushing for public comment about this policy. It’s unfortunate that the board decided to write a “non-policy” when confronted with voices from their constituents.  We are not misinformed nor ignorant.  Many of the parents questioning these decisions are parents of some of your highest performing students.  We value education, we value teachers, we value children, and we value freedom.

It is for these  reasons that we are making your life and the board’s life a little more difficult.  Being challenged is good because it causes one to think.  Is there any merit to what we are saying?  You and the board may not think so but there are voices all over the Country that share my concerns and no they are not all of the same political spectrum.  This comment made me think: (from a Facebook discussion)

 ‎Alisa Olsen Ellis, what I find interesting and at the crux of your question is that right wing conservatives think socialism is behind CCSS, and left wing liberals think fascism (corporatism) is behind Ed Reform.

Is it a socialist movement? Is it “Common Core” as in “Communism”…which is extreme socialism? Is this part of Obama’s great socialist plan for the US: Obamacare and Obamacore? Will Common Core stifle innovation and the drive to succeed?

Or is this a Fascist movement? Is dismantling teacher unions and eliminating seniority the means to allow a nationalistic, authoritarian government? Is CCSS and the illusion of choice and vouchers an outward sign of intolerance. Do we keep hearing about rigor and skills as part of the need to discipline our nation’s children?

Which leads to me wonder, does it matter? The end result of either is slavery to an undemocratic system.

 

Please take the time to listen to concerned parents.  We aren’t asking for much, really.  Everyone from the district keeps telling us that they “would NEVER give out our children’s personally identifiable information”.  All we’re asking is that Wasatch School District has a policy in place that reflects the above sentiments.

Wasatch School District will never give out personally identifiable information without the prior consent of the parents.

This pretty much covers everything.  The medical form can have a check box on it where the parent gives permission for that information to be released in cases of emergency.  Maybe this is too simplistic but you guys tried it so I thought why not, I should too.

Please take the time to read my comments from last month — they still apply and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

P.S. Parents keep telling me that they are being told that if they don’t like this or that they can always pull their kids out of school and homeschool or put them in a private school, etc.  Is this really how we’re going to treat parents who have questions?  Tell them to go away — regardless of where our children go to school, we are still tax paying citizens who have a voice in what happens in the public school system.

Previous 30-day comment period’s letter to the Wasatch School Board from Alisa:

From: Alisa Ellis <alisa.ellis@gmail.com> Date: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM Subject: FERPA comment To: vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu

To Whom It May Concern –

I want to first thank you for answering our request to put the FERPA policy revisions up for a thirty-day review.  I want to make it clear that the intentions of my heart are far from contentious.  I understand that you may not see it that way.  I’ve avoided e-mail conversations because it is very hard to interpret tone and meaning through an email message.  I would much prefer an open dialect.  In this case that is not possible so I will do my best to put my thoughts down on paper.

A citizen asked me what I’m afraid of.  Do I think a black car will start following my kids?  This was tongue in cheek but an appropriate question.  The answer is NO.  I also believe the local administrators and board have the best of intentions and truly want to protect our children.  What I ask of you today is to make sure that the policies that our district votes to adopt truly reflect the intent of your hearts.

It has been said that the FERPA revision was to protect our children.  I recognize that as a citizen I cannot see the full scope of what was behind these changes but I can read the changes themselves.  (Wasatch FERPA old & new)

The changes put into place in our local policy give more exceptions to the rule.  In 9.2 it gives permission for “organizations conducting studies for specific purposes on behalf of schools.”  I am not opposed to all studies but my children are not guinea pigs.  Why on earth do organizations need my children’s personally identifiable information without my parental consent?  It is my right as a parent to decide what studies I’d like my children to be a part of.

Further at the April 19th meeting the changes to number 3 were not mentioned.  If I may make a suggestion I’d like to suggest that we as a district be more specific in our policy.

Who is an authorized representative?  As defined in the Federal Register the term is somewhat vague.  They state that they are doing this to streamline and protect children’s data but at the same time they are opening up our children’s personally identifiable data to just about anyone, as I see it.  Please clearly define this term.

I spoke with Carol Lear who is the in-house attorney at the State Office of Education.  She told me to just put a note in each of my children’s files stating that I do not allow Personally Identifiable Information to be released.  That is not good enough for many reasons one of which is that in Appendix B of the Federal Register it lays out “certain rights” as a parent “with respect to the student’s education records.”  In number 3 it then says “The right to provide written consent before the school discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent”.  As you can see I have no power as a parent.  The policy overrides that authority.

You may be thinking that we won’t let anything happen that is not in the best interest of our children here in Wasatch County.  What I’m saying is that if the policy doesn’t clearly state your intentions you too may have no power just as my parental authority has been stripped.  We need to stand together to protect our children as parents, citizens, and educational representatives.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

Heber City Resident

Further items to Consider:

Race to the Top for the District

This was just announced in May and the Executive Summary is out for review.

Page 13

Program Requirements

5.  Work with the Department to develop a FERPA-compliant strategy to make all

implementation and student-level data (FERPA compliant) available to the Department or

its designated monitors, technical assistance providers, or research partners.

As I see this it is now circumventing the State office of Education and our district, if we apply, would be beholden to the Federal Department of Education be required to send them whatever information they ask for.

Recovery Plans from 2010 – i.e. Stimulus Bill

STATEWIDE DATA SYSTEMS RECOVERY PLAN

1. Program Purpose:

The purpose of assistance under this program is to enable State educational agencies to design, develop, and implement

statewide, longitudinal data systems to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student

data. In addition, the program may support awards to organizations to improve data coordination.

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