Archive for the ‘student privacy’ Tag

Alpine School Board Members Speak Out For Student Privacy   5 comments

Alpine-Board-10x8-1024x819

 

Three remarkable Alpine School Board Members: Wendy Hart (front left) Brian Halladay (standing, middle)  and Paula Hill (front, right) have written an open letter on student privacy, citing documented realities (contracts, documents and laws) that boldly stand for student privacy and parental rights, against Common Core SAGE/AIR testing.  The letter stands tall against statements from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park and the Utah State Office of Education that claim all is well with student privacy in Utah schools.

Hats off to Hart, Halladay and Hill for speaking up despite pressure to go along in silence with the decisions or positions held at the state level.

Before I post the letter, here’s a little background:

Before Common Core testing even began, Utah officially dropped out of SBAC (a federally funded Common Core test maker) but then immediately picked up, as a replacement, test maker  AIR  (American Institutes for Research– also  federally approved, but not federally funded; Common Core-aligned; a test maker that specializes in psychometrics and behavioral testing,  prioritizes promoting the LGTB philosophy –and is officially partnered with SBAC!)  Many Utah parents are opting their children out of these tests, and state level officials are desperately trying to persuade the population that there’s no reason to opt out.

Statements promoting and approving AIR and SAGE, by Assistant Superintendent Judy Park, have been rebutted and even publically debated before– but this new letter stands very, very  tall, shedding much more light on the student privacy dangers of SAGE/AIR and highlighting the lack of Utah laws that protect an individuals’ ownership over his/her own data.

 

Here’s the letter:

 

September 18, 2014

 

Dr. Judy Park

Utah State Office of Education

Dear Dr. Park,

 

Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues with AIR and SAGE testing.  We especially appreciate your citations of the contract.  In the interest of openness and transparency, we have a point of clarification, as well as some follow-up questions.

To begin, a point of clarification.  Your letter is directed to Superintendent Henshaw who communicated some of our concerns about SAGE and AIR to you.  In your letter, you indicate that “False, undocumented and baseless allegations need to cease.”  We wish to clarify that the concerns expressed by Dr. Henshaw were not coming from him, and, as such, your directive would not be to him but to those of us on the board and our constituents who are raising questions, based on our reading of the AIR contract with USOE.  Because Dr. Henshaw reports to the Alpine School Board and not the other way around, any directive for Dr. Henshaw to rein in these ‘allegations’ from board members or constituents would be inappropriate.  We can appreciate that you are troubled by this, but we would recommend that more information and more discussion would be a preferable way of resolving concerns, as opposed to suggesting that concerned representatives and their consitutents simply remain silent.

So, in that spirit of openness, we have the following clarifications and follow-up questions.

We begin by addressing the sections of the AIR contract cited in your letter of August 14.  It was very much appreciated because these are the same sections of the contract that we have studied.  We were hopeful that there would be additional insight.  Unfortunately, we did not find any assurance in the pages listed.

I-96 – I-98:  This section nicely addresses the physical, network, and software security for the server and test items.  However, the only reference to AIR employees, their ability to access or use any data is left to “Utah’s public records laws, FERPA, and other federal laws.”  FERPA, as many know, has been modified by the US Dept of Education to allow for the sharing of data without parental knowledge or consent as long as it can be justified as an ‘educational program’. Additionally, FERPA only contains penalties for those entities receiving federal funds.  Since Utah is paying directly for SAGE testing, FERPA is a meaningless law in this regard.  Additionally, Utah’s public records laws appear to only address the openness of public records, but are insufficient when it comes to privacy or use of data, including that of a minor.  If there are robust privacy laws in Utah’s public records laws, we would appreciate additional citations.  Please cite the other federal laws that protect the privacy of our students.

I-61:  Addresses the technical protocols for the data transfer, as well as encryption of passwords.  Again, this doesn’t address those who are given access by AIR to the data for whatever purpose.

I-72 – I-73:  Addresses the security of those contractors who will be manually scoring during the pilot testing.  This addresses a particular third-party in a particular role, but not AIR as an entity or its employees, other than this particular instance.

I-85 – I-86:  Addresses the issues of users and roles for the database and USOE updates.  This limits the appropriate access to those of us in Utah, based on whether we are teachers, principals, board members, USOE, etc.  Again, this does not address anything about AIR as an entity or its employees.

While all these security precautions are necessary, and we are grateful they are included, they do nothing to address the particular issues that were raised at the August 12, 2014 Alpine School Board Meeting.  Some of our concerns are as follows:

1)  Prior to the Addendum from March 2014 (for which we are grateful) there was no prohibition on sharing data with a third-party.  As indicated, the changes to FERPA would allow AIR to legally share data with a third-party as long as that sharing was for ‘an educational program’ without parental knowledge or consent.  As such, the addendum now allows for that sharing only with the USOE’s consent.  We are still concerned that parents are not asked to give consent and may not have knowledge of their student’s data being shared.

2) AIR itself is a research firm dedicated to conducting and applying the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.  As such, they are involved with data collection and evaluation. In the contract and addendum cited, there is nothing that prohibits how AIR or its subsidiary organizations may use, query, analyze or access any or all student data from the SAGE tests in Utah.  They would have access to many data sets from many entities.  They also would have multiple on-going research projects.  There is no prohibition on what inquiries, research or analysis can be done on the data from SAGE testing.  As long as AIR does not profit from the data or share with a third-party without the USOE’s consent, the data is managed by AIR and available for access.  What are the methods in place to prevent AIR from accessing the data for additional research or analysis?  AIR does not need to share the data with a third-party to violate the privacy of a student or a set of students.  However, since they control and manage the database, there is nothing that would prevent this access.

3) There are no prohibitions in the contract regarding behavioral data.  While we realize Mr. Cohen has said the contract does not call for gathering or evaluating behavioral data, and that AIR is not inclined to do so, there are, again, no prohibitions or penalties associated with gathering or evaluating behavioral data.  State law allows for the use of behavioral data in the year-end testing.  So, there are no legal prohibitions on the use or collection of behavioral data.  Since behavioral research is the primary mission of AIR, as indicated by its mission statement, it is a concern for parents.  If AIR has no desire to collect behavioral data as part of the SAGE testing, it should state so explicitly in a legally-binding manner.

4) Many parents have, legally, opted out of SAGE testing for their students.  As such, why is AIR receiving any information on these students?  Parents feel it is a grave violation of their trust by USOE that any data the USOE has received from the schools can be input into the SAGE database, not to mention the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  There must, at a minimum, be a way for parents to opt out of all sharing of their student’s dat with AIR and the SLDS.  At what point, if any, will student data be purged from the AIR database?  What is the method for demonstrating the data has been properly purged?

Additionally, we appreciate the response of Mr. Cohen to our concerns.  Based on his response, we have the following questions.

1)  Please list the “express purposes” for which the release, sharing or sale of data is not prohibited, per contract.

2) What third parties are AIR “explicitly permitted by the State of Utah” to provide data to?

3) What research has AIR been requested and directed by the Utah State Office of Education to conduct?

4) What entity (or entities) has AIR been authorized by the State of Utah to release data to?

5) Please list the source of the contract that states that AIR is prohibited from releasing data to the federal government.

6) What entity (or entities) have been designated by the USOE to receive data from AIR?

7) The memo does not address companies owned or operated by AIR, which would not be considered third-parties.  Please state, per contract, where AIR does not share data within related party entities.

Finally, we have the following questions related to the validity and reliability of the SAGe testing.  We understand that this information would not be protected by copyright, and therefore, could be provided to us, as elected officials.

1. Normative Sample Details (who took the test)

2. Coefficient Alpha Reliability

3. Content description Validity

4. Differential Item Function Analysis

5. Criterion Prediction Validity

6. Construct Identification Validity

7. Other types of validity scales/constructs that are applicable only to CAT test designs

We appreciate the opportunity to discuss this more in the future.  As those who are responsible to the parents of this district, we feel it is imperative that our concerns are addressed.  And, when all is said and done, it is most important that parents have the opportunity to protect whatever student information they feel is necessary.  Just because parents decide to educate their children in our public school system does not mean that we, as a state government, are entitled to whatever information about their children we feel in necessary.  Parents are still, by state law, primarily responsible for the education and the upbringing of their children.  As such, their wishes and their need to protect information on their students is paramount.  As members of the Alpine School Board, we must represent the different views and concerns of all the parents in our area.  For those who have no concerns, then you may proceed as usual.  For those who do have concerns, it is incumbent on us to raise these questions and to obtain the most accurate information possible.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to more information in the future.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Halladay

ASD4

Wendy Hart

ASD2

Paula Hill

ASD1

 

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I wish every Utah parent, teacher, student and principal read this letter– and took action!

The time has long passed for blind trust in Dr. Park, in the State Office of Education and in the State School Board. Surely, power holders –in the legislature, in district administrative offices, and in the governor’s office who read this letter– will finally act.

Share this letter!

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My, What Big Data Teeth you have, Grandmother: An Open Letter to Utah Legislators   10 comments

Dear Utah Legislator,

I’m writing to you as a mother to ask you to put a stop to the use of Utah’s school systems as snooping agents on our children.

Corporate and federal partnerships and Utah state data systems and interstate partnerships now watch and track our children without anyone having asked for parental consent to do so.

Some Utah leaders are working hard to fortify privacy rights, I know. But many powerful organizations, departments and corporations are working hard to ignore, dismiss, or stop any efforts to defend student privacy– all with great intentions but absolutely without authority.

The result is a data collecting and sharing network that represents loss of parental authority and loss of individual privacy.

In recent years, Utah built and is now using a federally structured and paid-for ($9.6 M) State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) from which no parent is permitted to opt their child out.

This lack of liberty should be a red flag.

But few Utahns know that their child is being tracked and very few know that they can’t opt out of that tracking.

Fewer still know that there’s a Utah Data Alliance (UDA) that links K-12 data, collected by schools, with higher ed., with the State workforce and other agencies.

Utah’s UDA has agreed to use the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) State Core Model –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

I am not saying that Utah agencies are sharing private data yet; I am saying that there’s nothing strong preventing them from doing so and that school systems are moving in the direction of more and more data commonality and disaggregation of student data. (see point 4 at that link.)

Countless entities have lined up with a “Data Quality Campaign” to make sure all their data points and technologies match, so that student information can be pooled.

Federal FERPA laws, previously protective of student data, have now been grossly loosened, and federal agencies including the NCES and the Department of Education, as well as White House events such as “Datapalooza” and White House Chiefs such as Joanne Weiss, are encouraging us to pool data, while (weakly) noting that student privacy is, of course, important. Yet proper protections are missing.

The Department of Education does a two-faced dance, asking for “robust data” and altering FERPA on the one hand, and insisting that they don’t even collect student data when speaking to the press. The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are, however, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.

The PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC Model, in its own definition, “includes early childhood, elementary and secondary, post-secondary, and workforce elements, known as “P20,” and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.”

PESC states that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

I find this alarming. You might find it hard to believe that Utah is lined up with it.

So here is the evidence:

The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) and other XML schemas.”

Here is the PESC State Core Model abstract.

“1.0 Abstract

The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…
The Model [can replace] 625 distinct Federal reporting types with record-level data collections.

… The Model is designed to address unique, complex P20 SLDS relationships, business rules, and entity factoring… It addresses student-teacher link, common assessment data model, and comes pre-loaded with Common Core learning standards.

The State Core Model consists of three principle artifacts… All three artifacts can be downloaded and used without charge or attribution from [the EIMAC group site].”

Data Baby

And, what is EIMAC? In case you hadn’t heard of EIMAC: it’s the branch of the CCSSO that “advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.” Yes, they said that out loud. They collect data at the national level without authority nor any representation.

But, but– (we say) –Aren’t we protected by GEPA law and by the Constitution from any sort of “accountability” to federal agencies in educational matters or privacy matters including “unreasonable searches”?

Not if our legislators don’t defend these rights.

According to the PESC document, on page 5, we are drowning in “federal accountability”. There are at least 625 federal reports mentioned at PESC. A few include: http://www.pesc.org/library/docs/Common%20Data%20Standards/State%20Core%20Model%2011-17.pdf

EDEN – EDFacts 79 file types
CRDC – Civil Rights Data Collection 2 parts
SFSF – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 33 indicators, 3 descriptors
MSRI – Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative
CSPR – Consolidated State Performance Reports 191 Indicators
OSEP – Office of Special Education Programs 34 indicators
IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
CCD – Common Core Data (fiscal) Financial data collected in survey format
SDFSCA – Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Data are collected in CSPR
M-V – McKinney-Vento Collected through CSPR.
Perkins – Perkins Act
RTTT – Race to the Top N/A
TIF – Teacher Incentive Fund 6 Sections
N or D Annual Report of Neglected and Delinquent (N or D) Children Collected through CSPR”

—————–

To clarify: the document that signed us up for PESC is the Utah application for the ARRA grant for a SLDS database. (This document resulted in Utah receiving $9.6 million from the federal government, none of which was used for actual education, but only to build the student database (SLDS).)

That SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and it says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA.

Who are these individuals? How many of them are there? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?

NON-COGNITIVE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA, TOO.

Starting at page 87, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems.

These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”

The SSI inventory –your child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS) and there are plans to do this for earlier grades, but for now it’s for 11th and 12th graders. Demographic information is captured while administering the test and SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed needs to see it. (This is not a parental decision but a state decision.)

INTEGRATING STUDENT PSYCHOMETRIC CENSUS DATA INTO THE SLDS SYSTEM:

The SLDS grant also promises to integrate our psychological data into the SLDS (that database which the feds paid for/pushed on us.)

“Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data
Warehouse
the UDA. Both the USOE (K-12) and the Postsecondary Outcomes and Data Needs
sub-sections will address these needs.”

(My, what big data collection teeth you have, Grandmother!The better to integrate you with, my dear.)

Next, on page 87 of the same grant, Utah’s application for the ARRA money, it says:

“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs.
… We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”

So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s how they’re gathering the psychological data.

But that’s not the only way psychological data is being taken in Utah schools. “Behavioral indicators” are also required to be collected by the Common Core tests, those math and English A.I.R. or SAGE tests, as Utah House Bill 15, aka the Common Core Computer Adaptive Testing Bill, demands.

What can we do?

markey images

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey has taken action. He articulated his concerns on this subject in a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan. Other legislators around the nation are writing bills to take protective action for student privacy.

I hope all Utah legislators read Senator Markey’s letter, peruse the PESC and ARRA (SLDS) grant documents, look into the SSI surveys, study the machinations of Secretary Arne Duncan,and then take action to put an end to the unreined and ever-growing network of entities which collude for profit and for other, various control-related reasons, to dismiss the vital right of student privacy.

This would mean ending the “partnerships” by Utah with: the CCSSO, the Data Quality Campaign, the PESC State Model, the SLDS interoperability framework, the National Data Collection Model, the CEDS program of EIMAC; it would mean creating proper protections inside the Utah Data Alliance, and most of all, it would mean establishing permission from parents prior to any student SLDS surveillance.

Thank you.

Christel Swasey
Utah Mother

Utah Student Tracking in Edweek Article   1 comment

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2013/08/utah_personalizes_learning_with_portable_records.html

This week, an Edweek article focuses on Utah’s “robust” data collection system and portable “backpack” records that track students. The article doesn’t mention the fact that parents were never asked whether they wanted their children to be tracked (stalked) by the government. Nor does it mention the fact that parents have no recourse to opt out of this state surveillance program. (I know this because I asked and got a response from the State School Board.)

The article also fails to mention word one about the federal shredding of FERPA law (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) that takes away the parental consent requirement and makes students sitting ducks for snoopy vendors, federal snoops and virtually any snoop who calls himself an “authorized representative”. Check out the lawsuit against the Federal Department of Education for more on that.

The article does expose the fact that “In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports” new recommendations will be “tracking additional information” which has long being sought from numerous federal education agencies. Here and here and here.

And Utah law has created “data backpacks” so all student data is in one place. Here’s the lead to that article:

———————————————————–

Utah Personalizes Learning With Portable Records

By Tom Vander Ark on August 7, 2013 9:25 AM Coauthored by Robyn Bagley and Tom Vander Ark

In October, Digital Learning Now! published Data Backpacks: Portable Records & Learner Profiles . The paper makes the case for portable academic K-12 transcript that follows students grade to grade and school to school. In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports, the paper recommended tracking additional information in order to represent a more holistic picture of student achievement–such as a gradebook of standards-based performance data and a portfolio of personal bests–and better capture the student’s progression at any moment in time. Since this data would follow students to each new learning experience, learning could be tailored to meet their individual needs from the first lesson rather than the extra time teachers must spend diagnosing student needs and abilities.

Robyn Bagley, Parents for Choice in Education, saw the paper and knew Utah’s existing data system infrastructure gave them a big head start on a portable record. She talked to a champion of Ed Tech policy and personalized learning, Senator Jerry Stevenson who agreed to sponsor a bill. Together they were able to knock out this groundbreaking legislation in one session, placing Utah schools one step closer to tailoring education to the individual needs of the student by providing those closest to them with access to meaningful data.

The Student Achievement Backpack bill, Utah Senate Bill 82, was signed into law in March. It provides for access by a student’s parent/guardian or school/district to the electronic record. The bill gives schools until June 30, 2017 to fully incorporate the expanded record into their student information system.

When fully implemented, The Student Achievement Backpack will use cloud-based technology to create a common Student Record Store. Senate Bill 82 implementation will occur in three phases:

•Phase one creates a cloud-based repository for all grades.
•Phase two functionality will expand the data collected from student information systems into the Student Record Store.
•Phase three will ensure final mobility integration of all required data collected in the Student Record Store into all LEA student information systems; and made available to all authorized users in an easily accessible viewing format to include administrators, teachers and parents no later than June 30, 2017.

… Utah has one of the most robust longitudinal data collection systems in the nation due to federal grants adding up to nearly $15 million plus an investment of over $6 million appropriated by the Utah Legislature…

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Read the rest here:

School Data Collection Facts Summary   45 comments

 
  • Does every state have a federally funded, interoperable State Longitudinal Database System that tracks people throughout their lives?  Yes.
Every state has accepted 100% federally funded data collection (SLDS). The Data Quality Campaign  states:  “every governor and chief state school officer has agreed to build statewide longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early childhood through K-12 and postsecondary ed and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  A condition of getting the funding (ARRA money) was that the system would be interoperable.
  • Is the SLDS accessible by the federal government?  Yes.
The SLDS grant explains that the SIF (state interoperability framework) must provide interoperability from LEA to LEA, from LEA to Postsecondary, from LEA to USOE, and from USOE to the EdFacts Data Exchange.  The EdFacts Data Initiative is a “centralized portal through which states submit data to the Department of Education.”

The P-20 workforce council exists inside states to track citizens starting in preschool, and to “forge organizational and technical bonds and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions” for stakeholders both in and outside Utah. — http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm

Is personally identifiable student information gathered, or only aggregate group data?  Personal, identifiable, individual data is collected.
  • Many of us in Utah were present last summer when UT technology director John Brandt stood up in the senate education committee and testified that there are roughly twelve people in the state of Utah who have access to the personally identifiable information of students which is available in the Utah Data Alliances inter-agency network of student data.  So it is not true that we are talking about only aggregate data, which leaders often insist.  The Utah School Board confirmed to me in writing, also, that it is not allowed for any student to opt out of the P-20/ SLDS/ UDA tracking system, (which we know is K-workforce (soon to include preschool) citizen surveillance.)
  • Is the collected private student data accessible to agencies beyond than state education agency?  Yes:
There are state data alliances that connect agencies.  The Data Quality Campaign states:states must ensure that as they build and enhance state K–12 longitudinal data systems, they also continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce (P–20/workforce) and with other critical agencies, such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
  • What data will be collected?  According to the new FERPA regulations, pretty much anything.  Social security numbers, psychometric and biometric information (see pg. 4 and 6) are not off the table.   According to the National Data Collection model, over 400  points.  Jenni White mentioned another federal model that asks for thousands of data points.
The types of information that the Department will collect includes biometric information (DNA, fingerprints, iris patterns) and parental income, nicknames, medical information, extracurricular information, and much more. See page 4 at  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf and see http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
  • How does this affect parents?
Data linking changes being made in regulations and policies make former privacy protection policies meaningless. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sued the Dept. of Education, under the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing that the Dept. of Ed’s regulations that changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in Dec. 2011 exceeded the Department of Education’s authority and are contrary to law. http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that it is not now a necessity for a school to get student or parental consent any longer before sharing personally identifiable information; that has been reduced to the level of optional.

It is a best practice to keep the public informed when you disclose personally identifiable information from education records.”  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf

Dec. 2011 regulations, which the Dept. of Education made without Congressional approval and for which they are now being sued by EPIC, literally loosen, rather than strengthen, parental consent rules and other rules.  http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a

The Federal Register of December 2011 outlines the Dept. of Education’s new, Congressionally un-approved regulations, that decrease parental involvement and increase the number of agencies that have access to private student data: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf (See page 52-57)

Although the Federal Register describes countless agencies, programs and “authorities” that may access personally identifiable student information, it uses permissive rather than mandatory language.  The obligatory language comes up in the case of the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and the states’ testing consortium http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

Effectively, there is no privacy regulation governing schools anymore, on the federal level.  Khalia Barnes, a lawyer at EPIC disclosed that these privacy intrusions affect not only children, but anyone who ever attended any college or university (that archives records, unless it is a privately funded university.)

  • Why did the Dept. of Ed need to alter FERPA regulations?

To match their data collection goals (stated in the Dept. of Ed cooperative agreement with testing consortia) which contracts with testing consortia to mandate triangulation of tests and collected data. This federal supervision is illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment).   http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

  • Who can access collected data?
The National Data Collection Model (the federal request for what states ought to be collecting) represents 400 data points schools should collect and “it is a comprehensive, non-proprietary inventory… that can be used by schools, LEAs, states, vendors, and researchers”.  Vendors are already using this.
  • How can we get free of this system?
Jenni White of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) states that the only way to get free of this federal data collection invasion is to put political pressure on our governors to give that ARRA money back.  As long as we keep it, we are in data collection chains by the federal government; also, our increasing buy-in to common core exacerbates the educational tech scam on the corporate side. Dept. of Education infringements upon state law and freedom are explained in the white paper by Jenni White entitled “Analysis of Recent Education Reforms and the Resulting Impact on Student Privacy”  –  http://www.scribd.com/doc/94149078/An-Analysis-of-Recent-Education-Reforms-and-the-Resulting-Impact-on-Student-Privacy
  • What else is at stake?
Sheila Kaplan has provided expert testimony about the student data collection, but has also said that an educational data monopoly is an issue, too.  She explains that a group exists, including Bing, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc., that assigns high or low attention to content and directs internet traffic.  So if code uses hashtags and common core aligned taxonomies, your education data will get traffic.  If not, it won’t.  If you are searching for any educational data it won’t come up unless it’s using that coded taxonomy.  This wrecks net neutrality and is, in her educated opinion, an anti-trust issue of the internet. She mentioned the CEDS, (common element data system) that is ending net neutrality.  She also finds appalling the Learning Registry, funded by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, which is a place for teachers to advertise for common core aligned products– all using stimulus money.
  • Why did the Dept. of Ed redefine FERPA’s meaning of the term “educational agency” to include virtually any agency and redefine “authorized representative” to mean virtually anyone, even a “school volunteer?

When FERPA is weak, linking of data allows easy access to data, both technologically and in terms of legal policy.  It also trumps other laws, such as HIPPA.  For example, as both Gary Thompson and Jenni White have pointed out, the new, weak FERPA law takes precedence over HIPPA (patient privacy) when medical or psychological services are provided in schools or when educational services are provided in jails.

In that document, states are obligated to share data with the federal government “on an ongoing basis,” to give status reports, phone conferences and other information, and must synchronize tests “across consortia”. This triangulation nationalizes the testing system and puts the federal government in the middle of the data collecting program.

For understanding of the motivation of the federal government, read some of US Dept. of Education Arne Duncan’s or Obama’s speeches that show the passion with which the federal agency seeks access to data to control teachers and educational decisions. http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.pdf
  • Are teachers also to be studied like guinea pigs, along with students? Yes.
The Common Core of Data (CCD) is another federal program of data collection that studies TEACHERS as well as students.  It calls itself  “a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.”  http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/
The system also allows the governments to track, steer and even to punish teachers, students and citizens more easily. http://cte.ed.gov/docs/NSWG/Workforce_Data_Brief.pdf
  • How does Common Core relate to the federal and corporate data collection movement?
 Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss at the Dept. of Education has been publicly quoted saying that “data-mashing” is a good idea.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gives speeches calling for “more robust data.” And at the recent White House Datapalooza, the CEO of eScholar stated that without Common Core tests being “the glue” for open data, this data movement would be impossible.

Common Core Florida: Orwellian Lessons   3 comments

Common Core Florida: Orwellian Lessons (CLICK)

In this article, “Common Core Florida: Orwellian Lessons” the “Dissident Professor,” Mary Grabar, enlightens again.  I learned…

Did you know that the rejected superintendent of Indiana, Tony Bennett, had been flown to Florida to become that state’s new superintendent?  Why on earth did they want him?  What is Florida thinking? He was rejected by Indianans for refusing to dump Common Core.  The new Indiana superintendent gets it– that a lot more than educational standards are at stake.

Did you know that the Florida School Board had been lead to believe that there is “no opposition” to the Common Core in Florida?  By the Pinellas County school board?  No opposition.  Not even a statistical possibility.  I happen to know lots of Floridians personally.  I went to school there. I know not all Floridians are drinking that Common Core kool-aid.

Did you know that in some model lesson plans of the Common Core, the great lessons of Orwell in Animal Farm, that teach readers the evils and deceptions of communism, are reduced to being called fables?  For high school students.

Florida school boards are about to hear from a lot of concerned parents and teachers.

I bet.

 

Look Behind You   4 comments

The federal government uses lots of different agencies– but increasingly, schools– to track us. It’s citizen surveillance.  But they call it research.

I wrote to the Utah State Office of Education a few months ago to ask a simple yes or no question:  can my child attend public school without being specifically and individually tracked by name, school record, social security number etc.?

No.  The answer was, no.  Your child will always be tracked using personally identifiable information.  But this will never be shared outside the State Office of Education, they assured me.

After studying the NCES website, the federal FERPA website, the lawsuit between E.P.I.C. and the Dept. of Education, the machinations of CCSSO’s John Brandt with the Utah Data Alliance, Open Education specialist Professor David Wiley’s statements about the necessity of gathering data without parental consent, and Dept. of Ed Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss’s statements on federal data-mashing and “helping” states to partner with data, I do not believe the USOE’s assurances.  I wish I could.

Under agencies like “National Center for Education Statistics” and “Institute for Education Sciences” the federal government is asking schools to collect and share hundreds of data points about your school, your teachers, and yes, your child.

There’s a federal “Common Core of Data.”  There’s a National Data Collection Model that asks for so much private information about each student, way, way beyond math and reading scores– it asks for family information, languages spoken, health information, extracurricular programs, social security numbers, bus stop descriptions— you name it.  Right here:  http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary  There is even a private school survey– private, not government.  On the federal data collection website.

If you start to talk about it with people, they’ll pat you on the head and say, “Oh, but FERPA law is here to protect you; it’s a groundless conspiracy theory.”

When they say that, please pat them right back on their own little heads and say, “Federal FERPA regulations were altered by the Department of Education quite recently. Now definitions have been rewritten and parental consent has been shoved aside: it’s an agenda.  Not a theory, an actual, verifiable, factual agenda being pushed under the radar upon Americans who still think they are protected and free.”  http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html

If they haven’t walked away from you, talk on.  Say, “Definitions that have been reshaped –loosened–  by the Dept of Ed. without Congressional approval include such details as the term AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE— now it could be literally anyone, anyone who is authorized to view your child’s personal information under federal FERPA regulation.  Even a school volunteer can have access to a child’s personally identifiable data, including biometric, physical data like fingerprints or DNA.  If parents have allowed the school to collect it.  Unless our state FERPA can stand up to the federal FERPA.”

Your listeners will still find it hard to believe that this could be legal.  Then take them to this federal 34 CFR Part 99  FERPA pdf page and type in the search terms “volunteer” or “biometric”:

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf

The point:  unless many of us look at this and talk about it, and then stand up and say, “No way” to the absolute flood of data-sucking agencies all around us, that are aiming to know everything about everyone, via data mashing and data sharing, we will lose our freedoms, we will lose our way of life as we have known it in the United States and elsewhere.

Bureaucracies of mass data-collection and sharing grow slowly but relentlessly.  Will they build a web we can’t break by the time we think it’s time to fight back?  Will we be intimidated by the clever sounding “government-speak” and the researchers’ arrogance?

Or will we take back our identities, our privacy, our freedom?

If you have time, just look at the words they use:

“The Common Core of Data (CCD) is a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.”  http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/

“Policy Makers – If you are an LEA or SEA policy maker, focus on Chapters 1, 2, and 4 of the User Guide.
“Data Modelers – If you are coming from a background in other data model domains such as banking, healthcare, etc. and want to familiarize yourself with the education data model domain, read Chapter 3: How to use the Data Model. Review Appendix C: Common Attributes. Then go directly to the Education Data Model…”

 

Look behind you.

If you were taking a nice walk in the park and someone said, “Look behind you. There’a a fast moving river of hot lava coming your way,” you could call that person a liar or a mad conspiracy theorist and keep enjoying your walk.

–Or you could just take that one look behind you.  What would it hurt to just turn your head and take a look?  Do you really not want to know?

http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/elsi/

This is what I’m asking you to do.

Just look for yourself.

Wasatch School Board’s Meaningless New FERPA Policy Out for 30-Day Review   Leave a comment

Dear Citizens of Heber Valley,  Please direct comments about FERPA and the importance of family privacy protection to the Wasatch School Board and District Officials at: “JAMES JUDD” <james.judd@wasatch.edu>, “VICCI GAPPMAYER” <vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu>, “TERRY SHOEMAKER” <terry.shoemaker@wasatch.edu>, “ANN HORNER” <ann.horner@wasatch.edu>, “DEBBIE JONES” <debbie.jones@wasatch.edu>, “WILMA COWLEY” <wilma.cowley@wasatch.edu>, “BLAIK BAIRD” <blaik.baird@wasatch.edu>, keith.johansen@wasatch.edu.

Here’s the public comment I submitted today:

Dear Wasatch School District,

Very few citizens will contact you during this 30-day period of public comment on the new, short, FERPA policy. Why? Last month, the board received many, many letters, but apparently, Vicci Gappmayer led the board to ignore us all and to do the exact opposite of what people had asked the board to do, which was to strengthen parental authority over children’s personally identifiable data.

Ms. Gappmayer said publically that she felt offended by the flier that citizens, including me, helped to put out, and she called it sensational and misleading.  It was not sensational or misleading. It was entirely truthful and accurate and was based on parental care for children’s privacy.

The district could have avoided a flier even needing to be published if it had not refused the request, unreasonably, to simply send out a districtwide email or newsletter or robocall, informing the public of the public comment opportunity.

Ms. Gappmayer’s new, dramatic rewrite of the district FERPA policy deleted all mention of parental consent or of personally identifiable information and can be seen as a deliberate attack on those parents and citizens who sent out the flier.  This is unfortunate.

Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings, this district deserves a meaningful FERPA policy. The new district policy is so vague and short that it amounts to no meaningful policy nor protection.

The board should not let go of its right to have a meaningful district policy.  The district should have a strong, meaningful policy that offers protection beyond minimal requirements.

Please understand the importance of having a strong district policy.  Being “obedient to law” is not as simple as it may appear. Our local role is not as simple as being obedient, as a child is obedient to parents, because in this case, the parents (state FERPA v. federal FERPA) are fighting, and one of the parents (federal) is schizophrenic about whether FERPA will loosen or strengthen federal access to personally identifiable data.

Having a state school board and a local school board provides checks and balances on the federal Dept. of Education dictating all policy.

The fact that the executive branch did not run their FERPA changes by Congress for approval, this January, sheds doubt on the legality of the federal FERPA regulations that this district is so eager to obey.  The fact that Larry Shumway said not to change your FERPA to avoid getting sued, should have been a consideration.  The Wasatch board disobeyed the State Superintendent in writing this new, short FERPA.

We collectively have allowed the feds to become almost an educational dictatorship.  So we are truly in a complex time. But that doesn’t mean we have to treat the Dept. of Education as if they really hold the right that they’ve assumed, to dictate every step that we, as a school district, make.  We need to be smarter than that.

Having a vague, short, unprotective policy can have terrible repercussions for this community. Think of what could happen if we didn’t have a strong and meaningful FERPA policy.  If the Department of Education were to change FERPA regulations again, without congressional approval, again, as they did in January– and this time, they wrote, “Regardless of parental consent, all children will have their fingerprints, photographs and blood samples sent to a D.C. database and have their hands microchipped, to ensure accountability and efficient access for educational testing,” this district’s new, short, policy would enforce it. No parent would be asked for permission. 

I do not agree with the lawyer who said that each of the FERPA policies we have looked at in the past few months, were just fine.  That lawyer does not care about our children like we do.  He is here as a paid employee to give legal advice, but his heart is not in it, as mine is and as (I hope) yours are.  He was wrong when he said any of the policies are fine.  Maybe legally they were all fine, but morally they were not.  There were different levels of parental involvement and consent.  There were different levels of federal ease of access to local data and to personally identifiable data.  He was looking only on the surface.  I am more concerned than he was, and so I am asking you to rewrite this FERPA policy to reflect that care.

This district should take a stand and determine for itself what its standards will be as far as it can discern and assert its right to do so.

Please add this sentence to the policy:  Wasatch District will never release personally identifiable information to any organization outside the Wasatch District without signed parental consent except in an emergency.

Thank you.

Christel Swasey

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