Archive for the ‘Paul Ryan’ Tag

Please Call to Stop Student Privacy-Torching Bills Now   4 comments

It’s a good day to call Congress.

It’s a good week to call repeatedly.

I hope thousands will pick up their phones to call (202-224-3121) to halt the student/citizen privacy-torching bills that are now up for a vote.

 

Here’s why.

Bills that destroy privacy in the name of research are right now, quite incomprehensibly, being sponsored by Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and Trey Goudy, as well as Democrat Patty Murray.

Even though public comment was overwhelmingly AGAINST the formation of a federal database on individual citizens, the bills are moving, without debate.

Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out:

“There was tremendous public opposition to the CEP Commission’s proposal to create a national student record, as stated on page 30 of the CEP report:

Nearly two-thirds of the comments received in response to the Commission’s Request for Comments raised concerns about student records, with the majority of those comments in opposition to overturning the student unit record ban or otherwise enabling the Federal government to compile records about individual students.’ ”  

Bless the dear soul of the CEP clerk who was honest enough to publish that important tidbit in the CEP’s report of public comment.  But still, the CEP ignored the public’s wishes, and now, Paul Ryan and friends plan to continue to ignore the American people and to skip the debate process that Congress is supposed to follow.

Here are the bills:

In both cases, the promotion byte for passage of the bills is the government’s desire to do “transparent” research on the people, for the people’s own good.  Congress calls this “evidence-based policymaking“.

But a stalker could call his studies evidence-gathering, too.  Without informed consent, there is no justification for evidence-gathering on individuals.  I honestly keep scratching my head as to why these representatives and senators don’t get it.  Is someone paying them to give away Americans’ rights?  Do they honestly, in their heart of hearts, not see that this is theft?

Many trustworthy sources are in a panic about this, as am I.  Read what Missouri Ed Watchdog, Education Liberty Watch, and McGroarty/Robbins have written about this:  here and here and here 
Months ago, I wrote about Ryan’s precursor, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policy (CEP) and its designs– here.
I recorded the core of what the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was doing, after I’d painfully viewed hours of Ryan’s CEP Commission’s public meetings that promoted the benefits (to researchers and to the government) of creating a federal database of personally identifiable, individual information.  –By the way, no mention was ever made of gaining informed consent from citizens, prior to creating that database.  Lip service was given to the idea of “ensuring” that no unauthorized citizen could hack the federal database (an impossible thing to ensure).  At the time of the Commission’s posting of that video and my writing about it, I complained that their video was not embeddable.   Today, their video’s not even there.   Still, I do have an exchange, which I had typed up on that day:
The question was asked of the Commission:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question …  you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have…  you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together.  What are the ways that you could expand those efforts?  Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about?…  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“… different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc–  had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a stateversus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”

 

 

 

So, months ago, Ryan’s CEP  admitted  that what it was doing would be considered unacceptable, so unacceptable that it “would probably not fly” so they ought to carefully trick the American people by moving toward such a centralized database in “baby steps”.

Yet, this week,  Ryan’s CEP has skipped its own recommended baby steps,  and is about to openly rip off more than just a band aid from the American people.

Congress is about to vote to rip off American privacy rights.

Pro-citizen-tracking Republicans and data-desperate researchers are making a bet that the American people are so asleep or confused or unconcerned, that we will say nothing while they make the theft of individual privacy justified, under new laws.

The CEP and Paul Ryan are undoubtedly good folks with research-driven intentions, butno good intention can supercede the vital importance of this basic American right: to keep personal privacy– to not be tracked, as an innocent citizen, without reason or warrant, by the government.

 

Please call and stop these bills.

Call Congress– 202-224-3121.  Or check the directory here. 

If you don’t know what to say, use this simple truth: that without individuals’ informed consent, it is theft to collect and store an innocent citizen’s personally identifiable information.  If an individual does this to another individual, it’s punishably wrong; if a government does it to individuals, even after voting itself into justification of the act, it’s still wrong.

Please call, and call, and call.  (202-224-3121)

 

 

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Testify Now.   7 comments

 

The purpose of this post is to ask you to testify this week to the newly created White House Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP)– either online or in person— against CEP’s idea of studying to remove protective barriers on unit-level data for federal access and policymaking.

Here’s why.

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Apparently chafing against constitutional and tech barriers against unrestrained access to student-level data, the federal government, this year, invited 15 people to help remove those barriers.

It’s a motley crew: a British behavioral scientist, an American data crime lawyer, a White House Medicaid bureaucrat, and piles of professors who formerly worked for the feds.

They named the group The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) and passed a law (led by Dem. Senator Murray, Speaker Ryan and President Obama) that gives the semblance of authority to the commission and allows them to post on the White House website.

The law passed in March.

The CEP’s stated purpose is to increase “use of data in order to build evidence about government programs“.

How would this be done?  CEP doesn’t say on its website, but the trend in data mining is to push for unit record data sharing.

Individual students are, in computer jargon, “unit record data“.  CEP promises to focus on “existing barriers” that are standing in the government’s way of accessing data [unit record data included] or, in their words, “data already being collected” [by states, in SLDS systems]. That data is none of the federal government’s business. In my opinion, it’s none of the state’s business. My data belongs to me. My child’s data should not be harvested without my written consent. The state never asked before it began to longitudinally study my child. And now, the feds want full access to disaggregated data to “build evidence” of all kinds.

CEP’s website claims that “…while protecting privacy and confidentiality” the Commission will “study how data, research, and evaluation are currently used to build evidence, and how to strengthen the government’s evidence-building efforts.

In the context of the decade-long Congressional debate for and against unrestrained federal study of individuals,  how can CEP simultaneously persuade Congress that it will protect student privacy while pushing Congress to increase its evidence-building efforts?

I suppose if they gain unlimited access to data but deny access to at least one person, they can call this “protecting privacy”.

They used the phrase “protecting privacy” while they:

  1. Installed fifty interoperable, federally designed-and-funded “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS)  to track the nation’s schoolchildren. There was no vote, no request for parental consent– it was part of the “government evidence-building effort”.
  2. Stripped privacy protections that used to  be in federal FERPA law, which earlier had  mandated parental consent (or adult consent) –for the all important “government evidence-building effort”.

They made scary, transformative changes effortlessly, as unelected bureaucrats dangled money (our taxes) in front of other unelected bureaucrats.  No representation.

When CEP begins its planned study of “practices for monitoring and assessing outcomes of government programs,” and other “studies,” you can just insert your child or grandchild’s name wherever you see the term “government programs”.

It’s all about unit-record data: the kids.

And it’s not a new idea!

In 1998, Hillary Clinton and Marc Tucker conspired to create a system they envisioned as “seamless”; a “cradle-to-grave system that is the same for everyone” to “remold the entire American system” using “large scale data management systems”.  It was exposed, but not abandoned.

In 2013, Senators Warner, Rubio and Wyden called for a federal “unit record” database to track students from school through the workforce.  That was shot down; Congress didn’t want to end the protective ban on unit record collection. In 2008, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act expressly forbade creation of a federal unit record data system.

In 2013 InsideHigherEd.com reported:

A unit record database has long been the holy grail for many policy makers, who argue that collecting data at the federal level is the only way to get an accurate view of postsecondary education…

…[V]oices calling for a unit record system have only intensified; there is now a near-consensus that a unit record system would be a boon… An increasing number of groups, including some federal panels, have called for a federal unit record system since 2006: the Education Department’s advisory panel on accreditation, last year; the Committee on Measures of Student Success, in 2011; and nearly every advocacy group and think tank that wrote white papers earlier this year for a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation…

… through linkage with Social Security or other databases, it could track graduates’ wages… The Obama administration — unable to create a federal unit record database — has offered states money to construct longitudinal databases of their own…”

It is time to stand up.

We missed the public meeting and the public hearing last month, but we can still speak at next week’s public testimony at the Rayburn Office Building.

If you can be in D.C. next Thursday, and want to offer public comment to offset the Gates-funded organizations that will be speaking in favor of sharing unit-record data, please send an email to  Input@cep.gov.  Ask for time to speak on the 21st of October.  They ask for your name, professional affiliation, a two sentence statement, and a longer, written statement.

If you can’t make it to D.C. on Thursday, you can catch them in a few months at similar meetings in California and in the Midwest.

At the very least, you can send your opinion online to the CEP at:   https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

 

My submission to the CEP is below.  Feel free to use it as a template.

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Dear Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking,

I love the American concept of voter-based, Constitution-based, elected representative-based, policymaking.  It’s why I live in America.

In contrast to voter-based policymaking there is evidence-based policymaking, which I don’t love because it implies that one entity’s “evidence” trumps individuals’ evidence, or trumps individuals’ consent to policy changes.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson said something about education that also applies to educational data and policymaking:

“The best way to prevent a political faction or any small group of people from capturing control of the nation’s educational system is to keep it decentralized into small local units, each with its own board of education and superintendent. This may not be as efficient as one giant super educational system (although bigness is not necessarily efficient, either) but it is far more safe. There are other factors, too, in favor of local and independent school systems. First, they are more responsive to the needs and wishes of the parents and the community. The door to the school superintendent’s office is usually open to any parent who wishes to make his views known. But the average citizen would be hard pressed to obtain more than a form letter reply from the national Commissioner of Education in Washington, D.C.”

Local control, and consent of the governed, are two foundational principles in our great nation.

Because the CEP is not an elected body, it does not actually hold representative authority to collect, or to recommend collection, of student-level evidence, or of any evidence, without written consent; and, for the same reasons, neither does the Department of Education.

Because the fifty, federally-designed, evidence-collecting, State Longitudinal Database Systems never received any consent from the governed in any state to collect data on individuals (as the systems were put into place not by authority, but by grant money) it follows that the idea of having CEP study the possible removal of barriers to federal access of those databases, is an egregious overstep that even exceeds the overstep of the State Longitudinal Database Systems.

Because federal FERPA regulations altered the original protective intent of FERPA, and removed the mandate that governments must get parental (or adult student) consent for any use of student level data, it seems that the idea of having CEP study and possible influence removal of additional “barriers” to federal use of data, is another egregious overstep.

As a licensed teacher in the State of Utah; as co-founder of Utahns Against Common Core (UACC); as a mother of children who currently attend public, private and home schools; as acting president of the Utah Chapter of United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE); as a patriot who believes in “consent of the governed” and in the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and, as a current tenth grade English teacher, I feel that my letter represents the will of many who stand opposed to the  “study” of the protective barriers on student-level data, which the CEP’s website has outlined it will do.

I urge this commission to use its power to strengthen local control of data, meaning parental and teacher stewardship over student data, instead of aiming to broaden the numbers of people with access to personally identifiable student information to include government agencies and/or educational sales/research corporations such as Pearson, Microsoft, or the American Institutes for Research.

 

To remove barriers to federal access of student-level data only makes sense to a socialist who agrees with the Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton 1998 vision of a cradle-to-grave nanny state with “large scale data management systems” that dismiss privacy as a relic in subservience to modern government.  It does not make sense to those who cherish local control.

It is clear that there is a strong debate about local control and about consent of the governed, concerning data and concerning education in general. NCEE Chair Mark Tucker articulated one side of the debate when he said:  “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies, much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.”

Does that statement match the philosophical stand of this commission?  I hope not.  Local control means individual control of one’s own life.  How would an individual control his or her own destiny if “large scale data management systems” in a cradle-to-grave system, like the one that Tucker and Clinton envisioned, override the right to personal privacy and local control?  It is not possible.

I urge this commission to use any influence that it has to promote safekeeping of unit-record data at the parental and teacher level, where that authority rightly belongs.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

 

 

 

 

Paul Ryan: Renewing the American Idea   1 comment

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Paul Ryan did not mention Common Core at last month’s Independence Day address at Hillsdale college.  But the Wisconsin Congressman’s speech, called “Renewing the American Idea,”   had everything to do with what this blog stands for.  When Ryan spoke about discerning between” measures that conform to the American Idea and those that weaken or conflict with the American Idea” he warned, “The American Idea imposes a duty to oppose programs that subvert popular government and impose bureaucratic rule.”

That duty and distinction is why Common Core stands opposed in America today.

Ryan defined the American Idea as, “self-government under the rule of law” that declares “human beings are created equal with unalienable rights that come from God.” He noted that many political measures conflict with the American Idea and undermine self-government, being “composed of boards and commissions with uncertain responsibilities and unaccountable decision-making”.  As I read that sentence, I was thinking of the CCSSO, the  NGA, the NDCM, and the College Board.  Ryan explained that “the way they operate creates relationships between government and money that encourage cronyism and breed political corruption… they are incompatible with the American Idea, and they must be rejected.”

Nodding in agreement, I thought of Gates’ countless millions given to the CCSSO, NGA, PTA, Education First, Jeb Bush, and even granted to the Department of Education directly, that helped ensure that  Common Core’s rule became not only the business success of  Microsoft’s and Pearson, but also became government policy.

Ryan said, “these programs and their administrative forms…cannot be reformed and restructured, but must be ended, or, if we choose, replaced by something completely different and consistent with popular consent and self-government… No reform is worth pursuing that does not turn against this rule and take us on a path of renewal.”

Ryan talked about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) but I was applying his words to the No Child Left Behind Waiver, as he wrote:

“Nobody understands it, and it makes everyone anxious… maybe you can get a delay or a waiver or an exemption.  How do you get these things?  Nobody knows.  The administration makes decisions on the fly, so the law changes every day… bureaucrats are calling the shots and running the show… protect[ing] the big guys– the biggest, most powerful [education sales] institutions in the country.  The result is predictable: Big [education sales companies] get bigger and small [education sales companies] get fewer… [it’s] the difference between fair play and playing favorites.”

I was thinking about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Chamber of Commerce, which has been drooling all over Common Core and pushing, pushing its promotion.  Ryan wrote, “Big business is a willing accomplice because regulation keeps the competition out.  Many times, large corporations don’t oppose new regulations; indeed, they help write them.  The point is, crony capitalism isn’t a side effect– it’s a direct result of big government… big businessmen spend less and less time hustling in the marketplace and more and more time lining the halls of government.”

(At this point, I was thinking about truths recently articulated by Ze’ev Wurman in a Breitbart article about Gates and his crony capitalism:  “…Bill Gates’ goal is ‘to leverage private money’ in a way that ‘redirects’ how tax dollars are spent inside public education…  Gates is using his personal philanthropy to direct government policy, to channel taxpayers’ funds to pay for the national curriculum he personally wants… paying for Common Core, Common Core ‘validation studies,’ curricular units development, and through paying for Education First to promote textbooks and pedagogical approaches he supports. Yet consider that the computer technology and infrastructure needed to support just the annual testing by Common Core’s newfangled assessments is estimated at $50 per tested student every year. Since over half of students are tested annually, we are talking about public education spending an additional one and a half billion dollars annually on technology for testing – 30 million students times 50! …Microsoft will capture at least half of that market, and assuming just 40% gross margin, Bill Gates is expected to reel in every year in extra profit (not revenue) as much as all he spent on supporting Common Core throughout the years. I’m not arguing Bill Gates wants necessarily to harm education for his personal profit. But isn’t it nice when you can convince yourself that what’s good for Microsoft is good for America, even when studies show it’s not necessarily so?”)

Ryan then explained how the difference between the U.S. Founders’ vision and the Progressive vision is the difference between freedom and the end of it.  He wrote that the founders “limited government… Progressives believed in a much larger and more active central government that reaches further and further into our lives…[O]ver the course of the 20th century, the Progressive view came to dominate the modern Democratic Party– and to cloud Republican thinking as well.  This is the core problem we face today.  The American Idea has not been rejected.  Far from it:  The Progressive counter-vision has never commanded a settled majority… [Americans] have never consented to have their lives micromanaged by bureaucrats.”

Ryan nailed the Progressive (and Common Core) agenda when he explained that in Progressive ideology, self-government gives way to “professional bureaucrats governing according to centralized plans.”

Centralized plans that are uninfluenced by those who are governed by them =  Common Core.

  • Common Core:  where those governed by the rules don’t get any voice in what those rules will be.
  • Common Core:  where big corporations marry big government, using taxpayer dollars to pay for the wedding and the couple’s future living expenses –and make sure not to invite taxpayers to the wedding lest any stand up and oppose the union.
  • Common Core:  where corporate+federally aligned tests drive local curriculum and standards.
  • Common Core:  where student absorption of common standards is tracked by corporate+government longitudinal database systems –without parental knowledge or consent.
  • Common Core: where the unelected, such as David Coleman (a noneducator-businessman, now president of the College Board and leader of English standards) get to run Common Core’s promotion company, Achieve, Inc., as well as alter the A.P. and the ACT, thus conforming all student tests to unelected and unaccountable whims
  • Common Core: where the unelected CCSSO and NGA get to hold copyright over Common Core –and also set common data standards, which enables the robbing of student privacy and  ends local autonomy in testing.

It’s hard to find a more perfect fit for Paul Ryan’s definition of “measures that undermine the American Idea” than Common Core.  Yet, despite the monstrousness of the problem we face, I believe in the same hopeful note of  Paul Ryan’s closing paragraph:

“Nothing in history is inevitable.  If we are to get through our current trial, as we have done in the past, it will be by the use of our wits and through tremendous effort … Let us remain committed to the American Idea.” 

 

 

 

 

Here is the video of Paul Ryan’s speech.

 

 

 Thank you, Paul Ryan.

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