Archive for the ‘liberty’ Tag

Trump’s Common Core Pick: Betsy DeVos   7 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machine to block, rather than to assist, the Stop Common Core parents’ nearly successful legislation that would have repealed the Common Core.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.

LDS Church to Independently Teach Both Religious and Secular Education Classes   147 comments

ces

 

This is very good, very big news.

Even though the fight for freedom in education is fought by freedom-loving people of many different religions, I share this great news, which comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hoping it will inspire other people and other churches as it has inspired me.

In February 2016, in an all-employee meeting at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus, the Commissioner of Education of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Kim B. Clark, gave an address, “CES: The Lord’s Educational System for His Church”.

The 54-minute talk can be viewed here.

Elder Clark announced that the church is launching a new initiative in fall 2016 that will eventually offer secular and religious education courses, from Master’s degrees down to high school, to people wherever the church is organized.

Elder Clark began by saying, “Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives, whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ we have, whatever strength of commitment or consecration we have, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours, whatever level of professional skill or ability we may have obtained, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead.  Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now, in every aspect of our lives.  The scriptures teach us that the world is now, and will be, in commotion and we can see it all around us. Wickedness and darkness will increase.  It seems hard to imagine, but it will.  Yet in that darkening world, there’ll be increased light, divine light.  The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation.  It’s a greater work than we’ve ever done before…  The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in his true and living church.  He’s hastening his work.”  (minute 2-3)

He said that last October, the presidents of the Church’s universities counseled together and then proposed a new initiative that was soon approved by the church leaders. (minute 13-14)

It is this: “The Church Educational System (CES) will seek to provide opportunities for education to the members of the church wherever the church is organized.

The church has long operated universities, seminaries, institutes, education weeks, high school classes through its universities and through its churches.  But now, the Church will be rolling out a new program that will use all its resources to increasingly provide both secular and religious education to all its members, wherever the church exists.   Elder Clark speaks of Master’s degrees down through high school classes being offered, both online and inside church buildings; I hope, and guess, that in the future, junior high and elementary classes will also be offered.

At minute 16:37, we learn that the first principle for the church’s new initiative is:

“Education is a spiritual experience”.  It explains, “Education– the struggle for perfection– is a spiritual experience and is essential for building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion. Religious instruction, gathering experiences and a spiritual focus to online learning will be essential.”

The second principle is: “The initiative will be a collaborative, system-wide effort involving all CES institutions.  We will also partner with Self Reliance Services (SRS) and other Church departments as appropriate and will build as much as possible on resources, courses and programs that already exist”.

The third principle is:  “Instruction will be delivered online and in local gathering activities at Institutes and chapels.  Study at local schools, combined with religious education at an Institute, is an important part of this initiative.”

The fourth principle is:  “Students will access programs through their local Church units, guided by priesthood leaders, supported by CES and Self Reliance Services.”  Elder Clark emphasized the fact that these classes are to be held under the direction of local priesthood leaders; he added:  “We felt really strongly about this.”

Even though Elder Clark said, “We’re talking about a global audience that numbers in the hundreds of thousands,” (minute 44) he felt it was important to make this educational program locally driven by local leaders.

In closing, Elder Clark reminded us that Ephesians 6:12 states:  “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  He asked those in attendance to rise to the challenge, to repent daily, and to meet the great opportunities and responsibilities before us by receiving greater spiritual power from Christ.

He said, “The rising generation in this marvelous worldwide church needs education, including the plain and simple truths of the gospel…. the rising generation will learn deeply and they will rise up.  We know this will happen.”

What a great message.  What great news.

 

 

clark

Elder Kim B. Clark

 

Updated: Protect Children’s Privacy: UT Legislature MUST Support HB0358   4 comments

Update 3/10/16:  Utah’s legislative session has passed, but HB 358, the student privacy bill, has not been funded.  And so we are stuck, at least for another year, without proper protections for our children.  (If you don’t know why that’s bad, begin by reading a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, by Jane Robbins, on why Georgia is considering a student privacy bill):

Robbins explains,  “…parents have heard glowing claims that ‘digital’ or ‘personalized’ learning will transform education, but they may not understand exactly what this means…[I]nteractive programs, marketed by private ventors, frequently use sophisticated software that collects massive amounts of highly personal information about the student’s behaviors, mindsets and attitudes”. She mentions the fact that the U.S. Department of Education is gung-ho on slurping up that personal, psychological information about beliefs and attitudes, as evidenced in its own published draft  reports.  (Must-reads!)  Robbins makes the real point when she writes,  “The issue here goes far beyond data security.  It is whether the government and private companies have any right to collect this highly sensitive data in the first place.”

Not passing/funding the Utah HB 358 privacy bill, while passing and funding HB 277, the digital education bill, was crazy.  It was the worst mistake of this entire legislative year.

Does the legislature not know that data is the new gold rush, and that education vendors are behaving as if this is the old wild west, without solid laws to govern student data sharing and partnering and selling?  Does the legislature not know that to the federal government, also, data is the new gold rush as well, and that our own Congressman Jason Chaffetz held recent hearings against the Department of Education for its data insecure practices– and gave the Dept. an “F”?

Think of it this way:  legislators just barely bought the children and teachers of Utah the trendiest, shiniest $15 million vehicle (HB 277) while saying, “We are unable –or unwilling — to pay for seat belts and air bags” –though the safety features would have cost a tiny, tiny fraction (one-sixteenth) of what the vehicle cost.

Where are their brains?

That digital vehicle, HB277 is worthless, at least to this mom, without the seat belts for the kids.  I, for one, will not allow my own children to get into that wild, glittering ride.

 

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Original post:

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HB 358 is here.  It is no small miracle.

If it does not pass (and get funded) tomorrow, the Utah legislature is silently informing us that privacy protections for children’s data do not really matter, and that citizens should not have rights to personal ownership over their personal data.

Even though HB 358 is scheduled for a hearing today at the Capitol:  Tuesday, March 8th, at 5:00 p.m., the bill is in trouble because the executive appropriations committee did not fund it.  That’s almost the same thing as killing the bill.   (The appropriations committee needs to hear from MANY of us, as fast as possible.  See below for contact information.)

I have been head-bangingly furious about the lack of proper privacy protections for my children since 2012, when I found out that there was such a thing as a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)– here and in every other state–and when I then asked to opt out of SLDS tracking, I just received the State School Board’s official “no” letter.

In America, land of the free!  In Utah, land of family-friendly liberty.  Here, I was told that I was not allowed to opt my child out of  SLDS, so that being tagged, tracked, and longitudinally stalked, from day one in school until my child was a working adult and beyond, was a mandate.

I also found out that:

1-  Although it starts with the word “State,” the SLDS is federally paid-for and is aligned to federal data standards and is federally interoperable;

2.  Those who house Utah’s SLDS have zero legislative oversight.  Incredibly, when SLDS began in 2009, there was zero vote-taking; SLDS came because of a grant application filled out by a clerk at the state office of education simply asking for a federal SLDS grant, and then it was implemented without voter approval.  Yet SLDS is 100% applied to all school children, non-consensually.

4.  FERPA (federal privacy law) was altered in 2009 by the Department of Education to become almost meaningless.  Despite a huge law suit, FERPA stayed in its altered, privacy-harming state.   So:  in-state or beyond, proper privacy protections do not exist.  (For more on that, see the recent hearings of Rep. Jason Chaffetz against the U.S. Dept. of Education)

5.  SLDS interfaces with many other state agencies in the Utah Data Alliance, so there is no guarantee that a student’s private data, collected by a school, won’t end up in the data silo of another agency totally unrelated to education.  SLDS has the ability, if state policy allows, to also interface with federal agencies’ data, other states’ and even other nations’ data collections.

 

This situation has literally kept me up at night, many nights, including tonight.

Along with countless other moms and dads, lawyers, think tanks, and legislators, I’ve done a lot of research and writing and speaking and pleading on this subject.  See some of what I learned and shared in the past four years, here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here.

I tell you all this in case you are new to this issue so that you’ll understand how INCREDIBLY important passing  HB 358 is.

House Bill 358 ought to be treated as one of the very most, if not the most, important bill at the Capitol this year.  But the legislature is saying that there isn’t enough money to pass the privacy bill, which has an implementation price tag of $800,000.  Oddly, the legislature has agreed to fund the FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLAR technology grant program, HB 277, but that technology bill is meaningless without privacy protections for students’ data.

Is the “no funding for HB 358” decision truly a budgeting pinch decision, or is it a matter of the legislators not caring enough about the rights of students to have privacy?

Here are a few of the lines in the bill that I really appreciate:

Line 463 says:   “A student owns the student’s personally identifiable student data”.

Lines 494-503 say that schools have to give disclosure statements to parents, promising not to share certain types of data with out a data authorization.

Lines 775-792 prohibit psychiatric or psychological tests or analysis without prior written consent of parents, and specifically protect data collection about sexual orientation and behavior, mental problems, religious beliefs, self-incriminating behavior, appraisals of individuals with whom the student has a close family relationship; income, etc, and that written consent is required in all grades, kindergarten through 12th.

The bill designates three different types of data that schools may collect:  necessary, optional, and prohibited.

Even though the “necessary” list seems too long, at least it limits data collection.  It will collect data “required by state statute or federal law to conduct the regular activities of an education entity” such as name, date of birth, sex, parent contact information, student i.d., test results or exceptions from taking tests, transcript information, immunization record or exception from an immunization record, drop out data, race, etc.

Line 346-351    The “optional” list includes IEP information, biometric information, and information that is required for a student to participate in federal data gathering programs.

Lines 356 – 376  The bill also defines “personally identifiable student data” as data that cannot be legally disaggregated (identified by a particular student)  (See lines 224-227 for disaggregation language):

356          (i) a student’s first and last name;
357          (ii) the name of a student’s family member;
358          (iii) a student’s or a student’s family’s home or physical address;
359          (iv) a student’s email address or online contact information;
360          (v) a student’s telephone number;
361          (vi) a student’s social security number;
362          (vii) a student’s biometric identifier;
363          (viii) a student’s health or disability data;
364          (ix) a student’s education entity student identification number;
365          (x) a student’s social media login or alias;
366          (xi) a student’s persistent identifier, if the identifier is associated with personally


367     identifiable student data, including:
368          (A) a customer number held in a cookie; or
369          (B) a processor serial number;
370          (xii) a combination of a student’s last name or photograph with other information that
371     together permits a person to contact the student online;
372          (xiii) information about a student or a student’s family that a person collects online and
373     combines with other personally identifiable student data to identify the student; and
374          (xiv) other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific
375     student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have
376     first-hand knowledge of the student, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.

We need to protect our kids!  This bill NEEDS to pass!

If you’ve ever read 1984 and remember Big Brother; if good old-fashioned history books have taught you that tyranny has been far more dominant than liberty throughout world history (with the exception of a freedom experienced in the U.S. under the Constitution for a few 200+ years) –or if you’ve been paying attention to the recent struggle between big-data and individual rights–  then you know:  allowing any person or government –unfettered–  to track individuals without their consent, for virtually the duration of their entire lives, is a very bad idea.

We need as many emails and phone calls or texts as we can muster before 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8,  to the following representatives, and especially to Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and President Niederhauser:

Representative (Speaker) Hughes  greghughes@le.utah.gov

Senator (President) Niederhauser   wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Senator Sanpei       dsanpei@le.utah.gov

Senator Hillyard  lhillyard@le.utah.gov

Senator Dunnigan  jdunnigan@le.utah.gov

Senator Adams  jsadams@le.utah.gov

Representative Gibson  fgibson@le.utah.gov

Senator Okerlund  rokerlund@le.utah.gov

Here they are, ready to cut and paste into your email:     dsanpei@le.utah.gov lhillyard@le.utah.gov jdunnigan@le.utah.gov jsadams@le.utah.gov  fgibson@le.utah.gov  rokerlund@le.utah.gov  greghughes@le.utah.gov   wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

 

Thank you.

 

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/bills/static/HB0358.html

 

VIDEO: Why the American People Must #STOPESEA   14 comments

ESEA, a huge bill about data and federal roles in local education, is being rammed through in the dark.  The vote is in a week and there’s no access to the final bill yet.  Senator Lee is right.  This process is wrong.

Don’t let a handful of people decide for the entire elected Congress and the entire population of the US what education, testing, standards, and data privacy should be, without debate, and without reading the bill.  The political careers of those who are ramming through this anti-freedom legislation in the dark without debate are going to be over once America wakes up and figures out what they have done to us.

I sat down and wrote out what I wanted to say this blog-video.  It’s posted here, for those who don’t want to sit through twenty minutes of talking.  Sorry  that I had to read much of it rather than  making eye contact all of the time.  I just needed to get it said right.)

VIDEO CONTENT:

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

My name is Christel Swasey, and I am a teacher and a mother living in Pleasant Grove, Utah.   Today is November 24, 2015.  In less than one week a handful of secretive congressmen are expecting to pass a bill called ESEA, or the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, without our informed consent or the informed consent of our elected representatives.

The final bill has not even been released yet but the vote is in a week.  It won’t be read by turkey-gobbling Congressmen when it is released in a few days.  But they’ll be forced to vote on Tuesday, uninformed or misinformed because all they’ll read is a sheet of talking points put out by the bill’s lobbyists.  This will have a disasterous, long term effect on liberty in America.

I am asking you to help #STOPESEA by calling Congress at 202-224-3121. Tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA based on what’s slated to be in it, and maybe more importantly, based on the corrupt, un-American process of passing it without giving time to read and debate about it.

I’m a big fan of a phrase in the Declaration of Independence: THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED”.

The Declaration explains that to secure our God-given rights, we the people instituted government:  “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

So government has no just powers outside of consent by the governed, and so my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and yours, are not secure when government is operating outside the informed consent of the governed.  I am telling you that it is happening right now.

My own Senator, Mike Lee,  has been an inspiration this week as he’s spoken out about this corrupt process and explained how it’s operating.  He said that how the conference process is supposed to work is not how is has been conducted. Quote: “from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to, but beneath the surface, we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few members of Congress working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny. And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult if not impossible for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”  Senator Lee said, “Because process influences policy… the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work—policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.”  Then Senator Lee named a few of those bad policies, such as “the discredited common core approach” and the centrally planned, failed model of federal preschool which the bill will use $250 million to promote.  There are many more terrible policies that ESEA will cement.  I will list more later on in this video.

My own representative, Jason Chaffetz, has also been in the Congressional spotlight this week, shedding light on what the federal government, via the Dept. of Education, is doing to American privacy. I watched him in a video leading a congressional hearing on the improper practices of the Dept of Education in its student data collection and data mining programs.  The hearing revealed that the federal Dept of Education has somewhere between one and two hundred ways that it collects data about your child and mine, but the Department only admits to having three because it contracts out the rest of the systems.  As if that’s better.  The hearing revealed that the Dept of Education received negative scores across every category of data security, and Rep Chaffetz gave the Dept. an “F”—calling it “a monster, an absolute monster”.

This is the same federal Dept of Education that is pushing, through the current ESEA bill, additional methods of mining student data.

But the things that Sen. Lee and Rep. Chaffetz oppose are not the only things that the ESEA bill will foist on us.  I predict that the final version of the ESEA bill will contain many more grants to promote more “voluntary” data mining in addition to the compulsory data collection that’s already taking place;  more federal preschools, more psychological profiling of teachers, students and families inside and outside of public schools under the banner of the kindly nanny state’s data-driven decision making, more career tracking, more longitudinal citizen stalking via college student and graduate reporting, more assessments or more deeply embedded forms of stealth assessments, and a subtle undermining of parental authority, teacher creativity and student autonomy from the community-centric, workforce-focused, data-focused initiatives in this bill. (We’ll see this week, won’t we?)

A group of over two hundred grassroots organizations representing most of the states in the United States signed an open letter to Congress opposing this ESEA bill.  The letter outlines four things that are strong reasons to oppose ESEA.  I’m summarizing.  The first is–

  1. COMMON CORE – the letter calls common core “academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically manipulative and privately copyrighted Common Core Standards…” End quote.  Now, in my opinion, the talking points that will be used to promote the bill will likely say that it’s common-core free, or at least, the bill will avoid using the phrases “common core” or “common data standards”.  The bill will rely very deceptively on the fact that most people don’t know that there is an official federal definition of common core.  That other phrase that the bill WILL include, repeatedly, is: “career and college ready standards” or “career and college readiness”.  Do an internet search for the federal definition of “college and career ready”.  You’ll find that the phrase is officially defined by the federal Dept. of Education as “standards common to a significant number of states” which can only be the common core.

The second reason that the grassroots letter asks Congress to oppose ESEA is its push for:

  1. ASSESSMENTS THAT PROFILE CITIZENS – the letter calls an over-reliance on tests never independently validated, high-stakes standardized tests supervised by the federal government , tests that are psychologically profiling our children more than assessing their academic knowledge…a problem. The third reason to oppose ESEA is:
  2. SLDS – State Longitudinal Database Systems (stalking of kids by the government) and the massive increase in state and federal gathering of private family, education and psychological data … without consent. The fourth reason:
  3. CAREER TRACKING – Career tracking, which undermines self-determination by means of unconstitutional profiling…”

Some people don’t understand why it’s a bad thing for the government to centrally manage and guide (or control) citizens into different career tracks; some think that’s helpful for the individual and good for the collective economy.

But I think of a quote from my favorite Disney movie, “Prince of Egypt” where Moses says, “No kingdom should be made on the backs of slaves”. 

Since student self-determination is undermined by the dictates of the government’s workforce needs, even if it is data-driven dictatorship, and since a student’s interests won’t be judged as equally important to a student’s capabilities when the collective workforce or the government is the main determiner of what that student’s career path should be, we are creating a system for our children where they are not free.  Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that education reforms are aiming to build a global kingdom on the backs of children without their consent;  but I think, in the long run, maybe not.

The four points outlined by the grassroots organizations’ letter, in my  opinion boil, down to this:

Either you believe that parents are the God-given authority over a child, or you believe that children’s lives should be managed by the government and its “data driven decision making,” for the building up of the government’s economy– in the style of countries without freedom, like China.

Either you support the continued tracking and nonconsensual stalking of your child and family, using local schools as the data collection pawns in a federal system that tracks children and families for life,  –or you believe in freedom, self-determination and privacy.

Either you believe that individuals should control their own lives despite the risks that freedom allows, or you believe that the government should control the lives of the people, because of the risks that freedom allows.  If you are getting sucked into believing the latter, please remember this:  we the people created government. We own it;  it did not create us and it does not own us.  It cannot boss us without our consent. Anytime government does a thing without the full, informed consent of the governed, it is unjust and it is dangerous.

But government can and does get away with bossing and bullying –when we let go of our own power.  I am asking you to use your power to call and stop ESEA this week.

Because Congress isn’t being given time to read or debate the bill prior to a vote, the bill’s promoters will pass out a sheet of biased talking points for the rest of Congress to read before they vote (this is how they got the Student Success Act passed) –and these talking points will sound so good.  But they will be full of lies.

I know this because I saw the last set of talking points when they passed the house and senate versions of this monster bill.  They had things that successfully deceived almost all of our elected conservatives, such as: “this bill will reduce the federal footprint” and “this bill restores power to the states and localities”—these things weren’t true.

Rather than restoring power to the localities, the bill assigned enforcement of federal priorities to the localities.  Think about that: there’s a big difference between assigning federal priority enforcement and implementation to states, and actually restoring freedom to states.  The new bill will likely use many phrases conservatives love while it also intrudes on basic rights and institutions, for example, on private schools and home schools by offering them attractive grants or services –in exchange for student, teacher and family data.  It’s all about data—it’s all about reducing citizen privacy, because information is power.

And the bill won’t be written in clear language that is accessible to the average person.   You will have to really study it and find out what its words and phrases mean in definitions outside the bill itself, to understand what is being traded.

The bill and its talking points will likely use language to appeal to the compassionate person, but it will force the federal concept — a parent-replacing definition– of government compassion.  It will promote parent-neutralizing, nanny-state enabling concepts and programs, including increased data mining –to identify (quote) ”academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health and other needs of students, families, and community residents.”  The last bill promoted “Full Service Community Schools” and “student needs” and “wraparound services” and extended learning time that make school, not family or church, the central hub of a child’s life.

202-224-3121.  Memorize that number or put it in your speed dial.  Ask Congress to vote NO on ESEA.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the partnership of federal and corporate forces take away our authority by changing who gets to define and enforce what learning means and what will be learned –taking this authority from the parent and teacher; and reassigning it to the government;

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government narrows academic freedom by dicating  a communistic, workforce-centered vision of what academic success is for;

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements into federal law the common core standards.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements processes built on student-stalking common data standards and interoperable state databases that report to the federal edfacts data exchange, tracking children’s academic and psychological data, without consent;

It is wrong for you and I to allow any kind of assessments to be mandated upon us by federal forces, whether in the form of formal, standardized tests or stealthy, embedded tests that are quietly woven into the daily curriculum and assignments of students.  These tests lock us into a federal definition of what academic excellence looks like and will narrow academic creativity in classrooms that are built on one standard and one set of data tags and tests.  They certainly make things more efficient, but at the expense of a teacher’s professional judgment and her curricular liberty.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while a few members of Congress ram a bill through, mostly in the dark, without allowing any space for analysis or debate.  It is truly a dark and un-American process.

Fight for freedom with your telephone.

These freedoms, once lost, won’t come back easily: the freedom to define with our own conscience and intellect what education should look like; the freedom from invasion of privacy;  the freedom from being centrally managed and tracked without consent.  These are not small things.

I’m asking you to call 202-224-3121 and tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA.

 

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Update:  Additional #STOPESEA videos here:

 

URGENT: Congress! NO on New No Child Left Behind/ESEA Reauthorization   2 comments

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Call 202-224-3121 to be connected to your Representatives and Senators in D.C. today.

They are about to vote to pass No Child Left Behind/ESEA in a new form that is Constitutionally unacceptable.

It promotes accountability, backwards.  Instead of the creation (government school system) being accountable to its creator (We, the individual People) this NCLB/ESEA proposed law wants We, the People accountable to the creation itself via data tagging and an increase of laws to bind us.

I recommend reading what American Principles Project is saying at The Pulse 2016 and what U.S. Grassroots organizations said in an open letter to Congress.

You can also just read the official US Dept. of Education blog to see the at-first-glance-seemingly-innocuous words from Secretary Duncan:

“…the nation is at a crossroads with two different paths for an new ESEA — a choice with moral and economic consequences“.  That is true.  Then he says, “ESEA should be replaced with a law that ensures opportunity for every child in this country; strengthens our nation economically; and expands… accountability.”

Do you see any dangerous false premises behind those words?

  1.  It’s based on the premise that the new version of ESEA is a better law, which is false.  ESEA cements big government controls over citizens, assumes that the federal government knows best how to define and how to turn around struggling schools;  increases the workforce-not-academic mindset of schools; pushes toddlers into the government influence with early childhood education fund promotion, and builds its whole monstrous mess on federally structured, interoperable, common longitudinal databases (SLDS), and common educational data standards— data tags that are nonconsensual citizen tracking for most of the person’s life.  That alone should give Congress a second thought.
  2. It assumes that the federal government Constitutionally does, or morally should, hold the power to influence “every child in this country”.  But the Constitution says otherwise.  So does the Bible.
  3. It assumes that economic fulfillment, defined by government, is a proper role of a school system.  That’s communism, folks.  In America, we go to school to learn truth– not to be minimally trained in order to serve the government’s definition of what the economy needs.*
  4. It assumes that accountability should be from students, teachers and schools to Big Government.  False.  That’s almost exactly backwards.  Accountability should be from public servants (teachers, state officials, and elected officials, to the clients of public ed:  that is, voters, student familes, and taxpayers.  We the People created government.  We created the school system.  The creation cannot demand accountability from its creator.  The creation cannot boss its creator –unless We the People who created it, are sweet-talked and bribed by Duncan and others into allowing it. We the People must hold on to the reins of power and not become sheep to our own creation.  But ESEA is threatening us.

*The Business Roundtable has written a letter to Congress that says, “A prepared workforce is essential for U.S. employers of all sizes. This is how we guarantee a brighter future for our workers and their families. We ask you to encourage the conferees to strengthen ESEA’s accountability provisions. Schools should be required to implement support strategies in cases where students are not meeting state-defined achievement goals…”

What?  Corporations want Congress to pass ESEA so that schools will be forced to move toward a workforce-based, rather than a liberty and individual-based, achievement plan.  That sounds no different that the thinking of the communist countries’ systems.  Decision making for children should never be based on the judgment of the government machine’s economic dictates –but on what the student, with guidance from the parent, and trusted teachers, choose.

Please don’t be fooled by the cronies’ talk.  This is America.  We want academic and creative and computer freedom, not a top-down system run by the coupling of government to corporation, which bypasses the will of the voters and the individuals that must abide by it.

Call today.  Tell your Senator and Representative in DC to vote NO on ESEA reauthorization. 202-224-3121.

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Effective Sept 2015: Feds Remove State Authority Over Special Needs Students and Redefine Who is Special Needs   16 comments

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Pray that our politicians and superintendents are interested enough, and honest enough, to see through the Department of Ed, and kick to the curb its lies and false reassignments of authority that hurt our children and our Constitutional power.

Jakell Sullivan, a beautiful Utah mom who happens to be one of the most dedicated  researchers on education reform and data privacy breaches that I know, has pointed out that this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan posted a “final rule” on the No Child Left Behind reauthorization.

(Thank you, Jakell.)

The final rule will move us from the “phasing out” phase to the “no more state authority at all” phase of the federalization of state education over “disadvantaged” children, which is defined ever more loosely, and can almost mean “any child”.

Some may dismiss this “final rule” from Secretary Duncan as not affecting them, as only harming those who have a  handicapped or otherwise disadvantaged child.  But think twice.  Because in the new, upside down, 2+2=5 world of Common Core, children who don’t score high on Common Core tests, may now be considered “disadvantaged”. I imagine that in the future, even children who opt out of testing may be labeled as disadvantaged by failing to achieve high scores on these tests.  (To clarify: opting out of testing is still a great choice, and still should be thoughtfully considered by every parent.  Utah State Superintendent Smith recently said: “The most important legal policy…. by constitution, and by what I consider to be natural rights, parents have the right to opt out of anything! They don’t need permission. They don’t need to fill out a form. They don’t need to seek someone else’s response.”)

Because so many children showed awful performance on the rammed-down-our-throats, ready or not, Common Core assessments, many children are labeled as low scorers, or  as “special needs”.  But for those children who actually are “special needs” and did not take the test, because there was an alternate test, those happy days are over.  The Dept. of Ed mandates that now, even handicapped people, take the same test.  No mercy, no wiggle room, no local judgment by caring professionals or parents.  (Except for the option to opt out.)

The final rule summary from Secretary Duncan is found here (and the Dept. invites comments). It says:

The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I… (ESEA) … to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments…  effective September 21, 2015.

Less than a year ago, Secretary Duncan told us he was aiming to “phase out state authority” over these special needs assessments.  At that time, we still had time to fight this.  At that time, there was still a chance that Congress would refuse to reauthorize No Child Left Behind (aka ESEA).  Now, children have been taking (and generally bombing) Common Core tests.  Meanwhile, Congress gave Duncan the power he craved when it passed ESEA’s reauthorization –and other education bills that shouldn’t have passed– this summer.

Jakell Sullivan said, “Parents, be warned. Most kids will soon fall into the “disadvantaged” category because it now means not meeting Common Core benchmarks. This is how they’ll make most schools Title 1 schools–federalization complete.”

She explained that this will affect all states (both the states that did and states that didn’t offer alternative assessments for special needs students) because, “The assessments for “disadvantaged” children will now be Common Core assessments… whether it’s the federalized NAEP, or something else the Feds require… and the formative online assessments will also be required to help teachers change their instruction practices to “help” these children.”

Another Utah mom, Morgan Olsen, speaking to the fact that these electronic assessments are a main source of psychological and academic data mining about individual students, said: “I find this particularly concerning because all data collected by schools is legally classified as education data and doesn’t have the same protections as health data collected by a private doctor. And because the USOE discussed using the State Data System to collect and store this type of information in its guidance counselor’s guide a few years back.” (Links added).

To summarize the reason for this “final ruling,” Sullivan said:

“Think about it like this: it sets the framework for all the schools to be turned into Arne’s much-desired community centers. The Feds already have the full-service community center bill in Congress, SB1787. This regulation change helps them force more schools quickly into transformation phase once that [bill S1787] passes (or even if it doesn’t). [Links added.]

She said:

“Think of the federal objectives this way:

“1. Get every child into federalized assessments (no State can determine an alternate path now)

2. Liberalize what it means to be “disadvantaged”,( ie; they’ll make it so anything they want can meet their disadvantaged criteria, and schools will fall for the federal money)

3. Hold teachers and schools accountable to “make” every child college-and-career ready, (ie; “meeting 21st Century Skills”)

4. When teachers and schools fail, require teacher instructional changes and require that the school becomes a full-service community center with wrap-around services for mental health, medical, etc.”

Utah, we need to stop holding hands with the Department of Education and recognize it as an enemy– an enemy  to autonomy, to parental control, to teacher judgment, to the U.S. Constitution’s protections, to individual privacy, and to true education.

Please, if you are reading this, call someone. Write something.  Email or tweet or get an appointment with your Governor or your State Superintendent.  Small ripples can cross large bodies of water.

Sometimes we “Nice” people must shake off our Hobbit-like niceness to detect and expose real and dangerous lies, worrying less about whether we may be perceived as “Nice” and more about how fast the power to direct the lives of our own children is being robbed by the thieves and enemies of Constitutional freedom.

I am standing here, calling the U.S. Department of Education a granddaddy of lies and unconstitutional actions.

That they are lies is indisputable.  Check the links.  Read your U.S. Constitution.

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A SHORT LIST OF (RECENT) LIES FROM THE U.S. DEPT OF EDUCATION– BASED ON DUNCAN’S “FINAL RULE” FROM ESEA REAUTHORIZATION AND ON S1787, A BILL NOW SITTING IN CONGRESS:

–That federalizing education (“phasing out the authority of states”)– so that states will lack authority to define who is and who isn’t “special needs” or disadvantaged– is good, and is constitutionally legitimate;

–That states have lost their constitutional authority to give alternative tests to special needs children;

–That Duncan, making a state-and-school-authority-robbing “final rule,” is a constitutionally legitimate act, in harmony with common sense and parental/voter will.

–That S1787’s shifting of the center of a child’s universe away from home/church, toward government school as its center, is a legitimate goal and activity for the federal or state government;

—That forcing physically and mentally handicapped children to conform to the same curriculum and testing is a good plan;

—That even genius children and even mentally handicapped children will benefit when the same curriculum is mandated for all; as when the White House writes: “Including students with disabilities in more accessible general assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards promotes high expectations for students with disabilities, ensures that they will have access to grade-level content, and supports high-quality instruction designed to enable students with disabilities to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum—that is, the same curriculum as for nondisabled students.”

These are a few lies.  There are more.

 

U.S. Senator David Vitters’ Privacy Bill in Congress Can Protect Student Data   1 comment

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Ever since that dark day three years ago when I received a written response from the State Office of Education saying that the answer to my question was “No,” –NO to the question of whether a student could attend school to simply learn (as opposed to being tracked at school, as “human capital” by the state and federal SLDS and P-20w data mining systems, without parental consent or knowledge)  –ever since that day, I’ve been on a quest to reclaim our basic constitutional freedom of privacy, the right to NOT be inventoried like merchandise of the state.

A lot of other people agree that privacy and freedom matter.   But not all.   The big money in big data is so big; data is the Gold Rush of our age, not to mention to big control issue “datapalooza movement” of our age, making it difficult to overpower the big data lobbyists and their giant piles of fat money that work very effectively against moms and dads and non-monied lobbyists and activists like you and me.

Twice, for example, a Utah state legislator has tried to run a privacy protection bill for Utah kids.  Two years in a row it hasn’t even gotten close to getting off the ground in the Utah legislature.  Seems that money and power talk more persuasively than children’s or family’s rights, even in Utah.

But today many organizations nationwide are joining to support and to push forward Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s congressional bill that returns control of education records to parents on the federal level.  It’s big news.  See Breitbart, The Hill, Truth in American Education.

The bill summary focuses on:

Rolling Back Department of Education Regulations:

Ensuring Parental Consent in All Cases

  • The bill implements new, more robust guidelines, in order to protect student privacy, for schools and educational agencies to release education records to third parties, even in cases of recordkeeping.
  • These entities will be required to gain prior consent from students or parents and implement measures to ensure records remain private. Further, educational agencies, schools, and third parties will be held liable for violations of the law through monetary fines.

Extending Privacy Protections to Home School Students

  • FERPA does not currently apply to students who do not attend a traditional education institution, such as students who are homeschooled, despite some states requiring homeschoolers to file information with their school district.
  • This bill extends FERPA’s protections to ensure records of homeschooled students are treated equally.

Limits Appending Data and Collection of Additional Information

  • The bill prohibits educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Federal education funds will be prohibited from being used to collect any psychological or behavioral information through any survey or assessment.

 

Organizations supporting Vitters’ privacy bill include:

  • American Principles in Action
  • Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
  • Eagle Forum
  • Education Liberty Watch
  • Home School Legal Defense Association
  • Women on the Wall
  • Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
  • Stop Early Childhood Common Core
  • Arkansans for Education Freedom
  • Arkansas Against Common Core
  • The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
  • Florida Parents RISE
  • The Tea Party Network
  • Georgians to Stop Common Core
  • Opt Out Georgia
  • Idahoans for Local Education
  • Hoosiers Against Common Core
  • Iowa RestorEd
  • Iowa for Student Achievement
  • Kansans Against Common Core
  • Louisiana  Against Common Core
  • Common Core Forum
  • Stop Common Core Massachusetts
  • Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.
  • Minnesotans Against Common Core
  • Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
  • South Dakotans Against Common Core
  • Tennessee Against Common Core
  • Truth in Texas Education  
  • Truth in Catholic Education  
  • Utahns Against Common Core
  • WV Against Common Core
  • Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

 

Please contact your state legislators, board members and congressional representatives in support of this bill. 

Board@schools.utah.gov  is the email for all the members of the state school board.    Find congressional legislators and state legislators here:   http://www.utah.gov/government/contactgov.html
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P.S.      I often get asked why this matters.   Last week, for example, at the Salt Lake County Republican Organizing convention, people came up to the booth where I was answering questions and asked, “What information is being collected about my child?”  My response?  Rather than to point them to the National Data Collection Model data points that are being requested, I simply say this truth:  there are NO proper privacy protections in place; federal FERPA law was destroyed by the Dept. of Education, and we have no idea what information is being collected locally; we do know there is a database that we aren’t allowed to opt out of;  we do know that there are no prohibitions on the schools/state/federal government/corporations collecting as much as they can get away with.
We know that the National Data Collection Model invites and encourages schools and states to collect over 400 data points.  And we know that no laws currently prevent schools/states from doing so.  It is only good intentions and individual/district policy that is preventing an Orwellian data collection reality today.
We need to establish proper, real protections.  We need strong laws that establish that students and families, not the state/corporate/federal education forces, own the data and control the data.  We need opt out laws from participation in the database systems too.  We need to talk about this issue often and openly.  And the ball is in the parents’ court.  The boards aren’t fighting for data privacy.  The lobbyists are actively fighting against data privacy.  And no legislator will fight for your child until you demand that he does.
Ask your legislator to support Senator Vitters’ bill, and to write state laws that enforce these protections too.
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