Archive for the ‘wake up America’ Tag

Federal Education Research System Poised to Invade – #StopSETRA   3 comments

stealth kid two

I know this might be boring.

I know there are five hundred things you could be doing.  But this will take awhile.

SETRA, or “Strengthening Education Through Research Act,” a federal bill that passed the U.S. Senate on December 17th has not yet passed the House of Representatives, and must not.

(Call 202-224-3121 to speak to your representative in Congress.)

There is a lot to explain about SETRA, and I won’t even hit it all tonight.

SETRA was written “to strengthen the federal education research system”.  That’s sentence number one.  It begs this question: where does the U.S. Constitution permit federal education or federal education research?

Is this communist China, where nationalized education is normal? Did I dream that the Constitution gives zero power to the federal government to dictate even a crumb about education?

Why are we even considering a bill that starts out with that sentence?  Furthermore, when did a single parent in this entire country give informed consent for a single child to be used as an unpaid, unwitting guinea pig for federal research?   How dare the government research the thoughts and beliefs of my child and yours, using our tax dollars, without our consent?

In section 132 of SETRA, the government aims to collect, from your child and mine, “research on social and emotional learning”.  –How so?  Sensitive surveys are forbidden by PPRA, right?

Education Liberty Watch notes that PPRA (a federal law that is supposed to prohibit  collection of psychological, sexual, or religious mindsets) only applies to student surveys– not to curriculum!  It’s a loophole.  Check out Cornell law school’s information on PPRA.

So what SETRA aims to do, in gathering sensitive “social and emotional” data, it can do, because of that loophold.  SETRA’s aims are not prohibited.  The data miners simply have to hide their psychological stalking inside the curriculum.  And this is easier and more common than most of us realize.

 

stealth assessment baby

Psychological or belief data can be mined without openly labeling the effort a psychological, religious, or emotional survey– and even without the knowledge of teachers or school administrators.  For example:

Education Liberty Watch points out that an English Language Arts curriculum that is being used in over 40 Florida school districts and several California districts, a curriculum published by the College Board, called SpringBoard, contains many psychosocial, or belief-based, questions such as this:

Activity 4.9 Justice and Moral Reasoning

I should pay all my taxes because-

  • I could go to jail if I do not
  • people will think of me as a good citizen
  • my taxes along with those of others will help to pay for services used by all

Students are then made to rate themselves, based on having mostly “a” or “b” or “c” responses, as “pre-conventional,” “conventional” or “post-conventional” based on psychological, moral levels and stages of reasoning. This is a psychological test, yet parents are not given notice nor asked for their consent.

Even math tests can contain psychological tests.  They gather information about student “perseverance,” “grit,” and other nonacademic “competencies”.  In fact, perseverance is one of the nonacademic standards tracked by Common Core math.

It’s not a bad idea to teach math students to persevere.  It is immoral, though, to pretend that a math test is testing only math, when it is also testing the psychological attribute of perseverance or another nonacademic attribute or belief– without the informed consent of a parent.

And if politicians and corporate giants get their way, it won’t be possible for a student or parent to avoid this type of psychological data mining by opting out of the high stakes tests, because stealth testing is here to take high-stakes testing’s place.

Did you notice how the parent-and-teacher-generated, national opt-out-of-testing movement has been hijacked by top level politicians  siphoning the grassroots’ energy toward the newest ed reform: “integration of testing into an aligned curriculum,” or “embedded testing” to replace the big-assessment tradition?  This is also known as “stealth assessment“.

Hiding the test from the student (and from the teacher and from the parent) by embedding it in the curriculum does solve many of the problems of high-pressure testing.  But it makes the problem of nonconsensual data mining worse.  And it would make opting out of the governmental inventorying of human beings impossible.  Thanks to “integration of testing into an aligned curriculum, the aims of SERTA can still mine your student’s data– with or without high-stakes testing.

Some people still don’t believe that federal and state governments really aim to gather data about the mind, heart and soul of each child.  In the bureaucrats’ own words, read it.

The Department of Education wrote that 21st century “competencies” would include “noncognitive” (nonacademic) factors. Read that report, entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance,” if you can find it; recently, the White House has removed its prior link to the published report.

OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13

Similar language about schools needing to gather belief-based, or social/emotional data, is found in countless other places.

See, for example, Utah’s own 2009 federal SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) grant application language, which promised the state would gather noncognitive student data from Utah’s children, about “resiliency” and “social comfort and integration” via “psychometric census.”  (Utah did “win” that federal grant, twice, and so we do have the federally designed SLDS system, as does every single United State.)

There is no informed consent, and there is currently no opting out, of SLDS.)

Ask your congressman:  where is the language in SERTA that would prohibit state SLDS systems from feeding personally identifiable information to the federal agencies?

Where is the language in SERTA that would penalize governmental and private entities who shared or sold student information?

Where is the prohibition on sharing personal student information with international entities, such as PISA, TIMSS, or SIF?

Where are the enforcement remedies when student information is mishandled?

Where is any actual prohibition on a national database, while SERTA encourages states to share and feed out data, ironically calling it “voluntary” sharing –though neither students nor parents ever gave consent to gather or use SLDS-nested information?

There’s more that really needs to be pointed out about SERTA.

 Nonduplication?

The thrifty seeming concept of nonduplication, or not overlapping and wasting energy, is used falsely, repeatedly, in SERTA, to justify the data grab.

The idea that database meshing is needful “in order to reduce burden and cost” (page 4) is supposedly justified so that the federal Secretary of Education shall “use information and data that are available from existing federal, state and local sources”.   On page 12, it extends the database meshing to private entities, too:  “such research and activities carried out by public and private entities to avoid duplicative or overlapping efforts”.  Where are the rights of the people being data-mined?

Will state, local, and private sources just idiotically hand this student data over to the federal agencies, buying the absurd notion that privacy rights pale in comparison to the opportunity of unburdening the federal workday or bank account?

                   Not Just Children’s Data; Adults’ Data, Too?

It is discouraging to note that SERTA strikes the “children” from the previous bill to replace it with the word “students,” repeatedly (page 77, page 117).  This replacement may broaden the reach of the data mining capability of the federal system to include not only children in public schools, but anyone in any environment that can be called a learning environment– I’m guessing: workplaces, libraries, universities, public housing facilities, rehabilitation facilities, hospital learning centers, refugee camps?  Adults are repeatedly mentioned in SERTA, in addition to being included in the more generic term “students.” And SERTA says that “adult education” and “adult education and literacy activities” are used as they are defined in section 203 of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, which is part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.  The federal link to that bill is currently broken, so I have not read that definition yet. But I think it’s safe to say that SERTA is not just about “improving research” for kids.  It feels as if it’s all about Big Brothering every single citizen.

 

nanny

 

               Cementing the SLDS (de facto federal) Database Systems?

In fact, on page 109, SERTA mandates that a year after it passes, and every three years thereafter, the federal Secretary of Education will prepare a report about each state’s “progress” and “use of statewide longitudinal data systems”.

Fact:  SLDS databases were paid for by federal monies and were designed to federal specifications.

Fact:  SLDS databases are, by federal mandate, designed with interoperability frameworks that mean they create one big, connect-able database of fifty matching state databases.  Utah’s grant application reveals, “the current School Interoperability Framework (SIF) v2 standard fulfills the needs of LEA to LEA, LEA to postsecondary, LEA to USOE, and USOE to EDFacts data exchanges.”  In plain talk, that means that schools, universities, the state office of education, and the federal EDFacts data exchange use the same interoperabilities so they can share any data that their policies will allow them to share.  These groups will say that “it’s just grouped data, not personally identifiable, that is shared.” But the personally identifiable data is housed and CAN be shared, if and when policy allows.  Proper protections are not in place.  Even federal FERPA privacy laws, upon which SERTA relies, and which SERTA mentions –was shredded by the Dept. of Education in the same year or two that it pushed Common Core tests, common SLDS systems, and Common Core Standards, on all the states.  FERPA no longer requires parental consent for the sharing of personal student data.  That’s a “best practice,” now, and not a requirement, and government failing to get any consent carries no punishment.

Yet SERTA relies on FERPA each time it (repeatedly) says something like “adhering to federal privacy laws and protections” (for example, see page 111).

When SERTA says potentially reassuring things, such as the idea that “cooperative education statistics partnerships” are not to be confused with a national database system (page 44) or that “no student data shall be collected by the partnerships… nor shall such partnerships establish a national student data system,” I do roll my eyes.

National student data systems are ready to plug in, like fifty separate puzzle pieces in a fifty piece puzzle; there are fifty SLDS systems– one per state.  So the federal plan has already been established with state SLDS databases.  The hole is dug; the concrete is poured.  Now, with SETRA, they are asking for a permit to build.  Congress can say no!

They must. Privacy matters.  It is a basic freedom.

Do not believe the people who say that it does not matter, or that it’s already gone– because of Facebook or NSA or Social Security numbers being used as national I.D.s.  It’s not yet true.  Privacy is still far from “all gone,” and it is worth fighting for!

The autonomy of your child, free from Big Brother  in his or her future, is worth fighting for.

Remember the Declaration of Independence. It says that governments derive their just powers from the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED. 

Without consent, government actions are unjust.  The SLDS systems are nonconsensual systems.

They came via federal bribe, aka federal grant when unelected, unthinking, nonrepresentative bureaucrats in each state office of education applied for the federal money in exchange for the federally designed and nationally interoperable SLDS systems; no citizen nor representative voted.

These monstrous State Longitudinal Database Systems use schools and other entities to create even huge “data alliances;” this is the basis for SERTA’s potentially frightening, increased powers.  Any language in SERTA implying that there is no plan for any national database is deception.

Don’t give the feds the authority to build that glary-eyed, Big Brother skyscraper on top of us, just because they already dug a foundation and poured concrete under us while we weren’t all paying attention.

#StopSETRA.  #StopSLDS.

 

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Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee from Charlotte Iserbyt: #STOPESEA   1 comment

mike lee

 

Former U.S. Department of Education Senior Policy Advisor Charlotte Iserbyt, patriot, whistleblower, and author of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, has written an open letter to Senator Mike Lee of Utah, which is posted with her permission below.  She asks him to follow up on his speech  about the mishandling of the ESEA bill, by working to postpone further votes until an investigation is made into the House and Senate’s failure to adhere to Congressional Procedural Laws in regards to this bill.

Please read and share this letter, especially with the most freedom-friendly members of the House of Representatives, whose twitter handles are here.

———————————————————————————

Dear Senator Lee,

You, Senator Lee, appear to be a friend of parents, teachers and plain grassroots Americans who have serious concerns related to the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB).

A significant number of parents and teachers wonder if the most effective way to stop the Reauthorization of ESEA might be for you to request a delay in the House vote Wednesday, December 2, due not to the controversial nature of the bill, but to the circumvention of procedural requirements in passage of all legislation by the Congress.

Concerned parents, teachers and others who have been following the history of this legislation believe there have been important and disturbing irregularities in the normal procedure related to enactment of legislation.

What has transpired since Janary when HR5 was first being considered is itself interesting.

Our first concern was when, in February, Rep. John Kline postponed the House Education Committee vote on HR5 (Student Success Act) knowing he didn’t have enough Republican votes for passage.  His excuse was that an urgent Homeland Security vote took precedence.

We know that Sen. Alexander wanted to move very fast with his version of the Reauthorization of ESEA.  All of us kept wondering when he would get his Senate bill in shape for a Committee vote.  It took Alexander from January to July to feel comfortable in moving ahead, only after Rep. Kline managed to get a five vote majority on HR5 (Student Success Act) in July.  Those of us who watched the House vote on C-SPAN can attest to Kline’s HR5 initially losing by a substantial number of votes.  Suddenly, after the Congressional clock stopped ticking, the necessary five votes for passage came in.  Shouldn’t that be investigated?

We parents and teachers, and other groups opposed to this legislation, ask you to speak out (formally) regarding the Senate and House Education Committee’s not following the procedural rules required for passage of legislation.

You certainly recognized that what happened in the Conference Committee’s handling of the last stages of passage of this bill was illegal, and we thank you so much for making a public statement  in that regard.

 

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah:

“So, from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is 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 this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”

Could you, Senator Lee, request a postponement of any further votes by the House or Senate until an investigation is made into the House and Senate’s strict adherence to Congressional Procedural Laws in regard to the Reauthorization of ESEA?

Such a postponement would allow for not only Congress to have more time and input into the legislation, but for grassroots Americans (not the usual lobbyists who attend all hearings) to  have more time to express our opposition to what we consider legislation which will end forever many of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Constitution.

Thank you very much for whatever consideration you can give to this Open Letter.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt

Former Senior Policy Advisor

U.S. Department of Education

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Reject Biased NGSS Science Standards May 6 in Provo   3 comments

The Vernal and St. George science standards meetings have passed, but you can still attend the Provo, North Logan, and Salt Lake City meetings.  The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) has set them up for parents and teachers to give input or to question the adoption of common, national standards for science for Utah.

Here are the remaining dates and addresses.  Please come!  You don’t have to be a scientist.  You just have to care about defending principles of academic honesty, academic freedom, and preserving our students’ right to debate and discover truth, unfettered to a politically slanted set of science standards.

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

For a long time, the USOE was pretending that the revisions of Utah’s science standards were not the national, common science standards, (Next-Generation Science Standards or NGSS) and were saying that these new standards were just a revision.  Now USOE admits this is actually NGSS, which is created by the same businessmen (at Achieve, Inc.) that wrote Common Core standards for English and math.  USOE is defending the upcoming adoption, a facade-dropping that might have something to do with the fact that at least two parents who served on the committee to review Utah’s science standards, Alisa Ellis and Vincent Newberg, have spoken out and have exposed Utah’s adoption of NGSS.

This week, Alisa Ellis posted the following chart, showing that Utah’s “new, revised” science core is the exact same thing as the NGSS standards, word for word, but with renumbering.  Vincent has pointed out that the NGSS standards are extremely biased and politically slanted, with “climate change” being presented over fifty times while electricity is mentioned once; with Darwinism presented as if it were settled science while life sciences like in-depth cell structure study, the human respiratory system, and other basic biology concepts being pushed aside in favor of the politicized environmental agenda.

If nobody shows up, speaks up, or posts comments at the USOE’s public comment site (only good for 90 days) then they’ll push forward with this agenda.  Please show up and speak up.

After you leave your comments at the USOE’s survey monkey, please copy and paste your comments into an email for the local and state school boards.   State email:  Board@schools.utah.gov 

ngss 1ngss 2

Alisa  Ellis also gave me permission to post her letter here, which went to the state school board.  I appreciate her insistence that Mr. Scott, the USOE and the State Board cease censoring public comment.  This censorship of the public happened when the public was asked to give comment about the English and math common standards by the Governor last year (two and a half years after Utah had adopted Common Core).

Only standards-specific comments were admitted!  This ridiculous censoring practice pretends there are no problems with national standards outside their content.  But there are two huge prongs to the pitchfork:  content, and control.  Trying to limit public comment to content-only issues just ignores the big problem of loss of local control and academic liberty.

 

Letter from Alisa Ellis:

 

State Board Members,

 

I’m writing to encourage you all to attend one of the 4 remaining science meetings that are being held around the state.  I was very disappointed to hear that not one elected official was at the meeting in St. George last week.  After one mom in attendance wrote to her local school board expressing her disappointment that they weren’t in attendance, a board member told her that they had no idea the meeting was taking place.  This is the same story we’re finding across the state.  

While it is your job to set the standards, the local boards will have to implement them.  Notice should be sent to each local board in the state inviting them to these meetings.  I already covered Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne for you.  

After enduring years of pushback by citizens that are in-part frustrated by the lack of discussion with parents prior to adoption of Common Core, I expected to see these meetings advertised far and wide to get as many people there as possible.  Each district has systems capable of calling or email every parent in the district.  Why aren’t these systems being utilized?  I sit in disbelief that I, a parent, have to ask friends to help me advertise, email local boards, get on the radio, etc to draw attendance to these meetings.  It’s unbelievable.  Please stop doing the bare minimum in advertising these events.  It doesn’t have to cost money to get the word out.

It is also reprehensible the first meeting was only announced 2 days before.  

According to the UT constitution it is the board’s job not the staff of the USOE to set standards.  That means the responsibility lies on your heads.  I’m tired of the the staff being the ones that shield the elected officials from those that elect them.  By not attending these meetings and only listening to Ricky Scott’s report, you will be getting a sanitized/ censored version of public feedback. 

Mr. Scott informed attendees that he would only be taking specific criticism and when given specific feedback he didn’t agree with, the citizens felt ignored.  I understand the desire by the staff to keep the discussion focused on specific problems with the standards, but that is not the only complaint the public has.  As elected officials you don’t get to tell us what we’re allowed to be concerned about.  While important, it leaves no room for philosophical complaints.  For instance, I see many, many problems with the specific standards but I also 100% do not agree with using a national standard, whether federal or private industry; it is not in line with my vision of education.  Children should not be standardized.

 Please take some initiative and stop the censoring of comments, unless they disparage individuals by name, or use foul language, etc.

 Alisa Ellis

 

————————————-

 

Fordham Institute rated Utah’s science standards as being higher than the NGSS.  So why is the USOE pushing so hard to adopt NGSS?

The biggest and ugliest answer may be that although Utah’s SAGE test, written by American Institutes for Research, already aligns to common core math and English, it doesn’t align with common science standards yet.  Since Utah’s  AIR/SAGE test is not (for science) yet aligned to the federally synchronized SBAC and PARCC tests, student scores cannot be understood by the overlords in their federal, common Edfacts Data Exchange lens.   So the feds are most likely pressuring the USOE to align.

The question is, will parents and teachers just be too busy; will they just roll over; will they let someone else worry about it?  Or will they stand up and say no?

Once lost, these freedoms don’t come back.

 

This video documents the deception history of the USOE and its false promises to legislators to NOT adopt nationalized science standards:

 

Gates is Funding U.S. Department of Education Directly   3 comments

Here’s a must-read.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is accepting the “philanthopy” of Bill Gates, putting our nation and its children directly in Gates’ deep pocket.

Not okay.  Wake up, America.   Our rights and voice are being buried under truckload after truckload of government-embraced corporate “philanthopy.”

And thank you, Mercedes Schneider. (I want to point out that Ms. Schneider, the author of this research, is a teacher.)

Read her research on the subject here:

Gates Is Funding U.S. Department of Education Conferences and “Innovations”.

What Is Going On With Pearson and Utah?   Leave a comment

Untangling the Choice Solutions/Pearson/UEA/Utah Data Alliance Partnerships

So today I’m imagining Utah’s State Technology Director, John Brandt, and Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber having a conversation over crumpets and tea about all the data Sir Michael Barber hopes to collect on the “global” citizenry –and how John Brandt can help. http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA

Brandt did set up the 2011 UTREX contract that allowed Pearson to design and deliver Utah’s massive data sharing project.  Then, suddenly, in 2012 Pearson also “partnered” with John Brandt’s Utah Data Alliance.

Meanwhile, not only does Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber go around praising Common Core and similar nationalized education systems worldwide while calling the shots for Pearson as its Chief Education Advisor…

 —also, Pearson’s Sir Barber recently founded a business in the United States called EDI (Education Delivery Institute) which partners with many state education departments (not in Utah, yet, thank heaven) to “drive delivery of the state’s reform agenda as outlined in its Race to the Top (RTTT) proposal.”  -Translation: to implement the federal Common Core.

EDI’s and Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber openly advocates for global environmental education standards, to be mandated for every human on the earth, as a priority over giving students knowledge or the ability to think for oneself.  He says “we want them to have some knowledge.” He calls his formula for all:

E(K+T+L)  Think I’m making this up? See his speeches:  http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA

Yet, John Brandt and the USOE apparently support Utah’s close partnership with Pearson and Barber. Maybe they don’t know what Pearson’s goals really are.  Or maybe they share those goals.

I don’t know.  But I think it’s strange that Brandt never responds to an email on the subject.

  Juggling all of that, keep in mind, too, that Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Chief of Staff, has spoken recently for federal agencies “data-mashing” as much as possible.  She’s also spoken about being “helpful” to states who want to partner in data sharing.  Nice.

If you’re interested, here’s the press release that explains (some of) it.

Press Release:  Utah Data Alliance Partners with Choice Solutions to Implement a P-20W Statewide Longitudinal Data System

Salt Lake City, Utah (PRWEB) February 15, 2012

“The Utah Education Network (UEN) working as a key partner of the Utah Data Alliance (UDA) has selected Choice Solutions to deliver a secure data warehouse of de-identified early childhood, K-12, post-secondary, and workforce data provided by multiple state agencies that will use this warehouse for analysis and research in support of data driven decision making.

Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W)…  The challenge is in the linking, in determining how best to forge the organizational and technical bonds, and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions. Choice Solutions, the leader in P-20W SLDS’s, has worked with 15 states across the nation to customize, integrate, and implement edFusion™, their enterprise grade P-20W SLDS. Choice’s level of P-20W data linking experience, in concert with the edFusion™ product stack, will serve Utah’s system requirements.

The P-20W SLDS project won’t be a cold start to the partnership; the Utah State Office of Education and Choice (in partnership with Pearson Data Solutions) have been working together for the past year to implement the Utah e-Transcript and Record Exchange system (UTREx).  UTREx is being phased into production with the core (collection, validation, reporting) functions having been implemented statewide in August 2011. In addition, UTREx allows individual, detailed student records to be exchanged electronically between any two Utah local education agencies (LEAs). UTREx is currently piloting submission of official student transcripts to any institution of higher education in the country from any Utah high school…  Choice Solutions is an end-to-end global Enterprise IT Service and Solutions provider… Choice has the privilege of serving many government organizations, including 15 state Departments of Education and numerous districts, regional education centers, and privately run agencies. For more information about Choice Solutions visit choicep20 dot com.”

(P.S.    I went to the Choice.com website and read that Choice’s partners are not only Pearson, but also CCSSO– the ones who copyrighted the Common Core, the ones whose board membership includes Utah’s Larry Shumway.  Choice also partners with the U.S. Dept. of Education.  –The point is that John Brandt’s Utah Data Alliance partnered with Choice/Pearson which is partnered with Superintendent Shumway’s own CCSSO.  And Brandt is a member of NCES, so he’s a federal and a state officer.  Unless I read it wrong.  See for yourselves.  Just google NCES and John Brandt and you’ll see how many speeches he’s making for the federal NCES nationwide. http://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/statsdc/2012/session_VII.asp)

The Common Core Federal Control Puzzle – from Utahns Against Common Core   1 comment

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