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!

Feb 25, 2015
ELW

Common Core & Financial Dealings Causing Problems for Jeb Bush in 2016 Polls

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Former governor and potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush held a closed fundraiser and an open education forum in Tallahassee, Florida on February 11th.  Many on both sides of the aisle have concerns about that candidacy. He has been protested by anti-Common Core groups and Republican activists. The Florida Bad Ass Teachers (BATs) and the Democrat Party will be protesting the event tomorrow.

Other potential Republican presidential candidates are criticizing Bush’s support for Common Core:

  • Ted Cruz was on ABC’s This Week and said:
“If he [Bush] chooses to run, it certainly looks like he’s going to, he’s going to have to make the case to Republican primary voters concerning his record, concerning certainly his support for Common Core, concerning his policies on immigration. And I think we’ll have a debate on that,” Cruz added. “But at the end of the day, I think Republicans are looking for a leader. What I would urge every Republican thinking about running to do, and this is true of senators, of governors stand up and lead. I’d be thrilled if six months from now we have a half-dozen Republicans standing and leading and making the case that there is a better way we can get back to the free-market principles and constitutional liberties that built this country and made this country a shining city on a hill.”
“Local parents, local teachers, local leaders need to make these decisions,” Jindal said at a luncheon sponsored by the American Principles Project, a conservative group that has rallied opposition to the Common Core nationwide. “In our entire history as a country, we’ve never allowed the federal government to make these decisions for us. Now is not the time to start….”

…”Trust these moms,” Jindal said. “I have more confidence in the moms in this room than I do in any collection of bureaucrats.”

Multiple exposes have been published in recent weeks discussing his questionable education and business dealings.  During that time, Bush dismissed the conservatives in Iowa, the first caucus state in the nation skipping a major gathering of potential presidential candidates.  Several 2016 polls have come out in in the last few weeks since that Iowa Freedom Summit showing that Jeb Bush is having major problems.  Here are some examples:

  • Bloomberg – 2/3 of likely Iowa Caucus goers think Common Core and immigration are deal breakers or would have to think about about those issues when considering Jeb Bush

 

 

  • Drudge Among over 440,000 online votes on the Drudge Report website, Bush only managed to garner 4% of the vote, with anti-Common Core potential candidates Governor Scott Walker with 44%, Senator Ted Cruz at 13%, and Senator Rand Paul at 12% dominating the field. Governor Chris Christie, also pro-Common Core only received 1% of that vote.
  • Public Policy Polling –  Jeb Bush is tied for the lead in North Carolina with Scott Walker and Ben Carson, but the polling firm notes a strong rise in Bush negatives since his announcement in December:
This new poll also provides evidence that Jeb Bush has stumbled out of the gate a little bit since announcing in December that he would likely run for President. Before Bush’s announcement he had a +44 net favorability rating with North Carolina Republicans at 61/17. In the last 8 weeks that’s dropped to just a +13 spread at 45/32. Although Bush has dropped across the board his most pronounced decline has been with ‘very conservative’ voters, among whom he’s gone from 63/19 to 40/37. That may not bode well for how things will go for Bush as his record is further scrutinized. (Emphasis added). Continue reading »
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