Archive for the ‘leslie castle’ Tag

To Honor, Uphold and Sustain the Law… Even When You Think You Have a Really Good Reason To Do Otherwise   1 comment

Utah Board of Education Chair

Debra Roberts


Thanks to Alyson Williams for this explanation of how our state board of education abdicated local autonomy.


… even when you think you have a really good reason to do otherwise

by Alyson Williams
February 5, 2013

Board members insist that these standards are better… They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.

The Utah Constitution and related statutes establish the Utah State Board of Education and assign them authority to set standards for Utah students. Members of the State Board of Education are appointed or elected from a narrowed field of candidates to represent the citizens of Utah.

In adopting the Common Core State Standards it appears that the Utah State Board of Education abdicated their control over standards to unelected bodies* outside the jurisdiction of the State or Federal government, and usurped the role of parents or citizens to monitor or give feedback to the process.

This is not how standards have been established in our state before.

The authority to do it this way can’t have been implied or hidden in their legal commission, because this is a newly invented process. This is a creative path to national standards through private brokers who are not constrained by federal laws that would prevent the Federal Government from doing the same thing.

Abdicating authority (whether voluntary or motivated by federal or financial considerations) is not an option established under the constitutional commission given to the State Board of Education. Any right not specifically given to the Board by law is a right that is retained by the people.

The people of Utah did not vote directly, or indirectly through the representative voice of the legislature, to transfer the standards-setting authority to another body.

Board members claim to have retained control by representing the citizens of Utah during the standards writing process. Again, this was not their commission. Furthermore, the Board can point to no specific input or influence they had on the final, copyrighted, standards. In light of the fact that 46 other states were also involved, and they had zero input on who was hired to write the standards, any influence real or imagined would have been highly diluted.

There is broad disagreement on the quality of the standards. The term “scientifically-based” seems to have been re-defined to mean the opinions of few “experts” rather than peer-reviewed research. The wording of certain standards doesn’t just specify what the student should know, but how they should be able to demonstrate that knowledge which in some cases requires or favors specific, controversial methods of teaching.

Still, board members insist that these standards are better than Utah’s previous standards. They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.

Even if they were the best standards ever, or if the arguments for homogeny outweighed the real challenges of aligning demographically and financially diverse states, the end does not justify the means.

Despite a well-documented timeline and recorded statements that would suggest a correlation between the adoption of the standards and federal incentives in the form of Race to the Top grant money and a waiver from No Child Left Behind, the Board insists that Common Core does not represent a Federal overreach in violation of the 10th Ammendment and several other federal laws.

Finally, the Common Core State Standards do not represent the competing opinions of a diverse group of education experts. The writers were a group of like-minded education reformers. The writing, evaluation and promotion of the standards was paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. While the State Board of Education can assert that they themselves were not influenced by the special interests of those funding the process, they cannot claim that the standards themselves were not wholly influenced by the education reform ideals of the funders.

It is a violation of trust that our elected officials would be complicit in a re-organization of the standards setting process that favors well-funded outside interests over the voice of the people.

* Unelected bodies include :

–the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

— the National Governors’ Association (NGA)

— the Department of Education (USDE)

–the 2 testing consortia: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and

–Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC)

State School Board This Week To Determine Citizen Privacy   3 comments

    Okay, this is a big one.  A dangerous one.

This week, the Utah State School Board will meet to discuss whether or not to change state FERPA policy.

Once Utah changes this policy, it will be next to impossible to get the privacy laws put back in place.  And it affects every student and his/her family’s household information.

Please call or write the board and demand that they NOT change our protective state FERPA policy to match the new, questionably legal, federal FERPA regulatory changes.

Why do I say “questionably legal federal changes?”

Congress made the original FERPA law many years ago to protect citizen privacy.  But recently, the Department of Education overstepped its authority in making regulatory changes to FERPA.  Regulations are not as binding as law. But the regulatory changes are being seen by some as federal mandates.

   Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s actions have been so shockingly unacceptable to some (including me) that the Department of Education has been sued.  Yes, sued.  The lawsuit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and it’s in full gear, with an undetermined outcome.  If EPIC wins, the Dept. of Education will have to repeal its regulatory changes to federal protective FERPA law.

Why does anyone want to REMOVE parental consent over student privacy?

They want to make the government more powerful than parents for “research-based” reasons, they say.

They want the government to be able to study our data without interference or permission. And they assure us that this power will never be misused.  Hmmm.

Last month at the State School Board Meeting the changes relevant to  Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s new regulations of FERPA were discussed.
  Larry Shumway, Director of State School Board/ Superintendent
The State School Board decided to table the issue until this month as they wanted to review information on it.  Our Wasatch Superintendent was at the State School Board testifying about our local FERPA policy.  Wasatch local school board had changed our policy so that it had no protection in the spring, but thanks to great participation of emails from many citizens, the policy was changed again and strengthened.  Thanks to Renee Braddy for gathering information, teaching citizens and leading this charge.
Since that time, people who have talked directly to the US Department of Ed, verifying the fact that the new FERPA policy does not protect, but in fact loosens, the restrictions so more data can be collected without our knowledge.  If you would like to learn more about it directly from the US Dept. of Ed.  You can call this number and ask for Ellen Campbell in their FERPA policy division. 1-800-872-5327.
What we need to do now is to write the State School Board Members and ask them to leave our current State FERPA policy in place.  We have a good State Policy.  PLEASE NOTE – the new federal policy is VOLUNTARY.
You will be told that it is not, but you can verify that for yourself by calling the number above.  Superintendent Larry Shumway responded in an email to Renee Braddy that it was truly voluntary.  James Judd, Student Service Director, Wasatch County, stated publicy that indeed this policy does loosen the protections.
Be firm but polite. Remember that emails that are too long don’t get read:)
STATE SCHOOL BOARD –  This will reach every member of the school board.
Another interesting point to note is that John Brandt, the technology director for all Utah schools and director of the inter-agency Utah Data Alliance, is a federal government worker and NGO officer via his membership in NCEE and his chair position on the Council of Chief State School Officers.  He is a man who feels great about Utah sharing data with the feds.  And he doesn’t answer emails on the subject. Ever.
Additional Research about FERPA- put together by Renee Braddy:

FERPA stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (20 U.S.C. 1232g (US Code)

It was originally put into law in 1974 at the federal level to limit the amount of children’s personally identifiable information that could be given without parental consent.

(Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions)

There are federal and state FERPA laws, as well as district FERPA policies.   In 2011, the US Dept. of Education created a new FERPA regulation that went into effect Jan. 3, 2012.  Regulations are usually created by non-elected departments and therefore DO NOT pass through congress, but in essence they are observed the same as law.

The US Dept. of Education created this new regulation (34 CFR Part 99) which significantly broadens the definition of “personally identifiable information” as well as the term “authorized representatives”.

According to the regulation, “personally identifiable information” includes:

The term includes, but is not limited to—

(a)  The student’s name;

(b)  The name of the student’s parent or other family members;

(c)  The address of the student or student’s family;

(d)  A personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record;

(e)  Other indirect identifiers, such as the student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name;

(f)  Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or 

(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.

Wondering what in the world “biometric record” means and what is includes?

Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

This allows for a collection of personal health records!

As a parent, I had to ask myself, to whom is this information being given?  The answer is found in the regulation with the definition of “Authorized representative”

Authorized representative” means any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in § 99.31(a)(3) to conduct – with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs – any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.

So, our children’s personal information can be given to:  Pretty much anyone without parental consent.


Specifically, we have modified the definition of and requirements related to ‘‘directory information’’ to clarify (1) that the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information under FERPA does not include the right to refuse to wear, or otherwise disclose, a student identification (ID) card or badge;

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

What is predictive testing? Here’s one definition from Wikipedia.

Predictive testing is a form of genetic testing. It is also known as presymptomatic testing. These types of testing are used to detect gene mutations associated with disorders that appear after birth, often later in life. These tests can be helpful to people who have a family member with a genetic disorder, but who have no features of the disorder themselves at the time of testing. Predictive testing can identify mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing disorders with a genetic basis, such as certain types of cancer. For example, an individual with a mutation in BRCA1 has a 65% cumulative risk of breast cancer. Presymptomatic testing can determine whether a person will develop a genetic disorder, such as hemochromatosis (an iron overload disorder), before any signs or symptoms appear. The results of predictive and presymptomatic testing can provide information about a person’s risk of developing a specific disorder and help with making decisions about medical care.

Why would the federal government want to track genetic and medical information coupled with educational information in a cradle to grave longitudinal database? Why is the Gates Foundation funding biometric tracking? Why is the Gates Foundation also co-hosting the London International Eugenics Conference with Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) next month? Why would the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius (responsible for the FERPA changes listed above) be offering $75 million in grants for schools to open health clinics inside their schools away from parental oversight?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the federal government is in the business of control and not pure education. Why aren’t Utah leaders moving to protect Utahn’s from these overreaches of the federal government?  Gates Foundation paid nearly $20 million to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization to prompt them to create Common Core. Schools will soon be the ultimate laboratories in fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s dream for creating central planning for the American workforce.

–Many people contributed to the writing of this post.

Today’s Report from State School Board Meeting   Leave a comment

   An attendee from today’s state school board meeting informs us that because Superintendent Shumway is resigning, a selection committee was formed to find a new state superintendent. According to the bylaws, this committee will select a new superintendent for approval by Governor Herbert.  The full board will not vote on this. –Utah needs lesiglation that changes the process as well as the process by which board members are elected –because it is not by the people.

The attendee also stated that the “Earth Science Classes” content and changes will be online for public review.  The board claimed it hadn’t made any changes to the content but just tweaked a few processes here and there.  Interestingly, there was one board member, Leslie Castle, who really did not want the science classes out for public review because of the possible disagreement of the public.

All of the rest of the committee voted for public review of the science classes.

More to come… (about the data privacy issues regarding FERPA regulations)

Governor Herbert: Please Do Not Re-Appoint Leslie Castle to Utah’s State School Board   6 comments

Dear Governor Herbert,

As you are in the process of selecting some members of the State School Board, I ask that you do not select Leslie Castle for another term, based on two things:

1.  She does not know what the U.S. Constitution is about, nor does she value freedom for Utah. She fails to stand up against federal encroachments in Utah’s educational system.

2. She has behaved  dishonestly and rudely in her position as school board member toward a teacher –me– who spoke out against Common Core.

Evidence for #1:

On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM, Leslie Castle wrote:

I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality… Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality…  your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards…

 On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:35 PM, Christel S <> wrote:

Dear Leslie,

The Constitution is not “right of center,” but is the very the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.

If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term.  Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and  establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over.  It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational  and other matters.

A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.

… “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution.  The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core)…

Equality can never be mandated…  Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.

…I am not “campaigning for ideology over standards.”  I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change.  It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.”  Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.

The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted.  Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.

In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative.  We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.

I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as campaigning for idealogy.  I want tangible answers.  I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that.  I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah.  Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it.  I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone.  I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.

That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.


Evidence for #2 that Leslie Castle has been rude and unprofessional:

When Leslie Castle received the 4-page, well-referenced rebuttal I had written to the State Office of Education’s “fact v. fiction” flier about Common Core,  Ms. Castle did not defend the flier nor answer any question I’d raised about that flier being unreferenced or misleading.

Instead, she began a personal attack.  She said that I was not to be believed because I was lying about being a teacher.   I asked her to check my references but she did not.  She spread her lie about me to the whole school board.  (see below)  She received multiple letters from other people who were teachers where I taught, or parents of a student I’d taught, to rebut her lies.  She never apologized for her errors or tried to clean up the damage.  The board never reprimanded her in any way.

I will paste one of her emails here; I’m willing to share them all, if anyone wants to read them.

Ms. Castle wrote this to the board and to me:

“…you have been deceptive, because you were caught and because you remain deceptive in this email. You create diversions to mislead others from the truth, as demonstrated by the misleading about your “teaching” experience. You ask me if it matters if you were nothing but a mom. I would ask you the same question. You tell me. If it doesn’t matter, why would you inflate your credentials? Why would you represent yourself as being a “teacher” at Odyssey when in fact, you weren’t? Why would you represent yourself as having “taught” at Odyssey for a year, when in fact, you did not. Nor at Renaissance Academy. You distract from the truth by telling me to call this person or that person to ask if you were the “best” teacher.  But really Christel, isn’t it all about hiding the fact that you fibbed about yourself and what your “credentials” were. I don’t think anyone has to be a teacher to be a credible voice in this discussion but I don’t think a person can be openly, continually deceptive and expect to be taken seriously. To make matters even more shameful, you have pounded the State Board and USOE about OUR motives and credentials, all the while pretending and posturing self-righteously in front of audiences and in flurries of emails copied to everyone you think would listen.

In reality, you are the one who is to be mistrusted and doubted. You are the one who is committing mischief and ill-will. You are the one who is self-serving and silly. And, you have the audacity to accuse me or anyone else at USOE or USBE of being less than helpful and constructive. You remain arrogant even in your humiliation.

Shame on you. I would suggest you find another target for your unjustified hostility and shenanigans and stop wasting everyone’s time with your pretext. Notice I have copied this to the State Board and some of the USOE.   Leslie Brooks Castle ”


Date: Sun, May 6, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER!!!

My name is Audra Call (formerly Audra Adams) and I have worked at Odyssey as a teacher since it began.  Christel Swasey, otherwise known as Christel Lane taught 3rd grade with me at Odyssey Charter School.  The former principal Nyman Brooks, Nikki Carpenter, Brooke Garrett, and Robyn Merill (who is now at Odyssey) can all verify this fact.

I am very disappointed and quite honestly furious about the way Christel Lane Swasey has been treated by Leslie Castle and others at USOE.  Remember the Bill of Rights guarantees free speech.  Whether or not people agree with Christel, all should be professional and respectful towards her as she is towards others.

 I am so grateful to Christel for the research and her insurmountable sacrifice of time that she has spent in educating teachers and parents about the realities of the Common Core initiative. 

I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until I began reading the research myself.  My freedom of choice is of the greatest importance and will always be.  I will always be against anything that is unconstitutional and that which takes our rights and freedoms away. 

Our founding fathers would be ashamed right now if they were still alive to see what was happening.  I hope Leslie Castle gets a severe reprimand for her demeaning words and lies.

Thank you,

Audra Call

From: Karin J

Date: Mon, May 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER

My name is  Karin Jaccard.  My children attended Odyssey Charter School for five years.  One of my sons had Christel Lane as his third grade teacher. Yes, Christel IS a teacher, and a good one.  Since then she remarried, and is now Christel Lane Swasey.

I find it disturbing that members of the STATE school board degrade themselves to such low tactics as trying to defame the reputation of a concerned teacher and citizen.  (When you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger?)  Ironically, her careful study, logical conclusions, and clear warning message would be no less valid, were she not a teacher.

I believe Utah is at a critical point in it’s history.  Ironically, as elected members of the school board, you have the power to free or enslave the citizens and children ( future citizens)  of our state.   Will you bend to powerful pressure? Will you value the skin you have in the game over the freedom and privacy of those you serve? I hope not.

I hope you find the mental strength to plow through all the information your are presented with.  I hope you have the clarity of mind to understand the principles, values and freedoms that are at stake.  I pray you have the courage to make correct decisions, regardless of personal consequences.


Karin Jaccard

Governor, as far as I know, none of these letters were answered by any member of the school board.   I do not want to fight publicly with Leslie Castle. I feel this little drama takes away from the real issue, which is that federal encroachments have totally taken over Utah’s educational system and freedom, in the guise of raising standards under the Common Core Initiative.   Yet I feel I must direct attention to Leslie Castle’s emails because it is now time to make important changes in the state school board membership.

Thank you for your consideration  and time.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

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