May 14, 2015
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Congratulates Senator Vitter & Joins Wave of National Support For Data Privacy Bill

Education Liberty Watch is pleased to join a broad coalition of state and national groups in supporting The Student Privacy Protection Act introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) today. The text of the bill is available HERE.

Here is Senator Vitter’s Statement from his press release:

“Parents are right to feel betrayed when schools collect and release information about their kids. This is real, sensitive information – and it doesn’t belong to some bureaucrat in Washington D.C.,” Vitter said. “We need to make sure that parents and students have complete control over their own information.”

Here is Dr. Karen Effrem’s statement from that same release:

“While this bill is very strong in a number of areas critical to student, teacher, and family data privacy, we are especially pleased with the language that prohibits psychological and attitudinal profiling of students in surveys or academic assessments, ” said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.  “Senator Vitter deserves great thanks for his tireless efforts to roll back the intrusive data gathering, psychological profiling and career tracking of our children by the federal government and corporations.” (See Dr. Effrem’s research paper “Psychosocial Manipulation in the Common Core Standards and Aligned Tests and Curriculum”  for more details on this issue.)

What follows is a national unity statement with the  initial strong and very likely to increase list of state and national organizations supporting the legislation:

We; the undersigned groups that have grave concerns about the loss of student and family data privacy, psychological profiling, and career tracking related to the Common Core standards, aligned state tests and longitudinal data systems; are grateful to Senator David Vitter for introducing and do strongly support The Student Privacy Protection Act.

This legislation provides important protections in the following areas:

  • Rolling back the disastrous extra-congressional regulatory changes that vastly expanded access of third parties to our children’s personally identifiable data, now limiting that access and requiring parental consent in all cases
  • Holding educational agencies, schools, and third parties liable for violations of the law through monetary fines, damages, and court costs
  • Prohibiting psychological or attitudinal profiling of students or gathering of sensitive family information via any assessments, including academic assessments or surveys
  • Extending data protections for homeschooled students required to submit educational data to public school districts
  • Prohibiting educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Banning Federal education funds to states or districts that film, record, or monitor students or teachers in the classroom or remotely without parent or adult student and teacher consent.

We strongly urge the senators of our respective states to co-sponsor this critically important piece of legislation and our congressional representatives to author and co-sponsor this bill in the US House.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:

American Principles in Action

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

Eagle Forum

Education Liberty Watch

Home School Legal Defense Association

Women on the Wall

Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Stop Early Childhood Common Core

STATE ORGANIZATIONS:

Arkansas

Arkansans for Education Freedom

Arkansas Against Common Core

Florida

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Florida Parents RISE

The Tea Party Network

Georgia

Georgians to Stop Common Core

Idaho

Idahoans for Local Education

Indiana

Hoosiers Against Common Core

Iowa

Iowa RestorEd

Iowa for Student Achievement

Kansas

Kansans Against Common Core

Louisiana

Louisiana Against Common Core

Massachusetts

Common Core Forum

Stop Common Core Massachusetts

Michigan

Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.

Minnesota

Minnesotans Against Common Core

Missouri

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core

Ohio
Ohioans Against Common Core
Oklahoma
Restore Oklahoma Public Education
Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians Against Common Core

Pennsylvanians Restoring Education

South Dakota

South Dakotans Against Common Core

Tennessee

Tennessee Against Common Core

Texas

Truth in Texas Education

Truth in Catholic Education

West Virginia

WV Against Common Core

Wyoming

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

Feb 25, 2015
ELW

S227 (SETRA) is a Federal Data Mining Bill that Destroys Student Privacy

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Besides urging a no vote on HR 5, the Student Success Act that replaces No Child Left Behind, please contact your US representatives and Senators to vote NO on S 227, the Senate version of the federal data mining bill.  Having already passed the Senate last year and about to be passed again, it was scheduled for a vote today, Wednesday February 25th in the US House.  That vote was contingent on easy passage in the Senate.  Thankfully, however, as more information comes out about this bill, it is no longer seen as non-controversial, and easy passage is no longer assured in either chamber.  It has been removed from the House calendar pending Senate approval, but thanks to the work of Education Liberty Watch, The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, American Principles in Action, Eagle Forum and others, Senators are objecting.

S 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA) reauthorizes the 2002 Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) that has been very problematic, because it started the concept of state longitudinal databases, stepped around the prohibition on a national database by creating “national cooperative education statistics systems,”  allowed personally identifiable information to go to international agencies, and removed the  previous penalties of fines and imprisonment for misusing individual student data. SETRA continues or worsens all of that. Here are four major problems with SETRA (A detailed analysis of these points is available HERE):

1.  SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children
Section 132 of the bill (page 28, line 16-21) inserts the following:
”and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively…” (Emphasis added).
The US Department of Education (USED) is already a flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment.  The amount of data collected on individual children, families, and teachers via USED through this law and the weakening and loopholes of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) that provided individual data to the federal government is appalling and a complete violation of the Fourth Amendment as well.  To then give the federal government the right to research the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of free American citizens, especially innocent children, is completely unacceptable and without justification.
2.  SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
Section 157 of the bill takes out the word “national” and still only by words, prohibits a national database. While this appears to be an improvement, it unfortunately doesn’t do anything to stop the egregious loss of privacy that has happened since ESRA established the national cooperative statistics systems and state longitudinal databases in 2002.  These databases have been enhanced by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, Stimulus), Race to the Top, and the America COMPETES Act.  In addition they are relying on outdated and weak student privacy laws (FERPA and PPRA), there is no enforcement mechanism, and we have seen how the federal government repeatedly and flagrantly violates its promises not to extend its authority, as with Race to the Top, Common Core and the national tests.
3. The bill continues to rely on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA to protect student privacy.
Both ESRA and SETRA refer to FERPA (20 USC 1232g) in Section 182 and requires data privacy to be handled according to that law.  However, FERPA passed in 1974 long before the presence of interoperable databases and cloud computing.  It also only discusses sanctions on entities that mishandle the data and those, which used to include fines and imprisonment, were severely weakened when ESRA was passed in 2002.  Students, families, and teachers whose sensitive personal and family data about everything from “social and emotional” issues to genetic data in newborn screening data, have no redress.  According to an investigation by Politico, education technology companies are scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day.” (Emphasis added) Finally, FERPA has been severely weakened via regulatory fiat to gut consent requirements and broaden access to data by federal agencies and private entities.

4. SETRA continues the large loophole that renders PPRA ineffective in preventing nosy social questions in curriculum and assessments.
PPRA, cited in section 182 as 20 USC 1232h, prohibits the collection of psychological, political, religious, and other sensitive data in surveys, but not in curriculum and assessments such as in Common Core.

 

Feb 25, 2015
ELW

Student Success (HR 5) Cements Federal & Common Core Control – URGE A NO VOTE

Karen, R, Effrem, MD – President

The US House Education and Workforce Committee marked up and passed its Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind six hundred plus page reauthorization bill on February 11th. (Video, Bill and amendment language are available here). It passed on a straight party line vote and is scheduled to be debated on the House floor starting on February 25th. The Obama White has already issued a paper criticizing the bill, as well as a veto threat.

Ideally this massive, unconstitutional, ineffective and expensive law would be repealed and the Department of Education would be closed.  Sadly, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky and other friends and experts in the movement issued a statement calling for a major elimination of mandates.

The bill, called The Student Success Act (HR5) was described by committee member and former Alabama State School Board member Bradley Byrne as “a step in the right direction, but still has far to go,” because the federal government “needs a large dose of humility” when it comes to education.  We agree!

However, while we oppose this bill as a whole, before discussing the significant issues of concern, it is important to congratulate and thank Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and the committee members that supported good language and fought off bad amendments.  Here are the highlights:

  • The bill contains language found in an anti-Common Core, anti-Federal interference bill call the Local Control of Education Act, HR 524 by committee member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Florida Republican Reps. Curt Clawson, Tom Rooney, Ron DeSantis, and Ted Yoho,  as well as 43 others.  This language prevents the Secretary of Education from “incentivizing” or “coercing” national standards like Common Core or and national test like SBAC  or PARCC in any federal law or program like waivers.  It is important for preventing future disasters like Common Core.
  • Rep. Steve Russell’s amendment to prevent the transfer of individually identifiable student data to the federal government passed and was added to the bill.  That amendment states that “All personal, private student data shall be prohibited from use beyond assessing student performance as provided for in subparagraph (C). The State’s annual report shall only use such data as sufficient to yield statistically reliable information, and does not reveal personally identifiable information about individual students.”
  • The Committee fought off efforts to amend in a requirement for “college and career ready standards for all students,” i.e. Common Core.  Although the Student Success Act does not go far enough, at least the national standards would not imposed for everyone by the law.
  • All of Title IV of NCLB was repealed.  This includes many invasive, ineffective, and expensive education programs   that EdWatch/Education Liberty Watch have been warning about since NCLB passed in 2001.  These include early childhood mental health programs; federally run civic and community service programs; Ready to Learn Television, which basically contains money for propaganda in PBS children’s programs like Sesame Street; and the full service schools idea of Arne Duncan and Lamar Alexander.   An effort to put a lot of these back in the bill was defeated.
  •  The majority also defeated an effort to put in universal preschool language.  Education Liberty Watch has chronicled the lack of effectiveness; academic and emotional harm; and high cost of these programs for a very long time, including Head Start and the Race to the Top Early learning Challenge.  We are appreciative to the committee for their work on this.
  • Eliminates unworkable Adequate Yearly Progress provisions These requirements would have made nearly 100% of schools failures. These provisions were the impetus behind the federal waivers that coerced Common Core. Continue reading »
Feb 25, 2015
ELW

The MN Child Protection League Warns of Dangers of 50 Shades of Gray

The Minnesota Child Protection League has developed a Toolkit to help parents and the public understand the dangers to the hearts and minds of women and young girls from the dangers of the erotic book and film 50 Shades of Gray.  The Toolkit, available for free consists of the following:

  1. A reality-check FACT SHEET: What everyone need to know about the movie;
  2. LINKS & RESOURCES: A sheet to help understand the dangers and talk to teens;
  3. The PLEDGE: For all to sign, share, and go viral;
  4. GRAPHICS: Posters, online and social media-sized graphics, twitter posts, and hash tags to spread the word.

Here is the pledge:

Please help this information to go viral to protect the hearts and minds of our girls and women!

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