Browsing articles in "Common Core Standards"
Jan 20, 2014
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Provides Testimony Against Common Core in Missouri

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch, presented oral and written comments to the Missouri State Board of Education on January 14th.  The event also included an excellent presentation by Dr. Mary Byrne, a brilliant and dedicated special education teacher and leader of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core also testifying against the standards and Cheryl Oldham of the Chamber of Commerce offering the same tired talking points without data about why Common Core should be fully implemented.

the testimony that also included excellent testimony by Dr. Mary Byrne, a brilliant and dedicated special education teacher and leader of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core also testifying against the standards and Cheryl Oldham of the Chamber of Commerce offering the same tired talking points without data about why Common Core should be fully implemented. – See more at: http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/news/2014-01/dr-effrem-testifies-against-ccss-before-missouri-state-board-education.htm#sthash.sNEfizVA.dpuf

Here are excerpts of a report from St. Louis public radio:

In her side’s one-hour session, Byrne argued against implementation of the standards primarily on procedural grounds. She contended they did not align with the purpose of education according to the Missouri Constitution; they were not really developed by the states; they jeopardize the quality of education in Missouri; and they were not properly vetted according to Missouri law.Karen Effrem, a pediatrician who heads a group known as Education Liberty Watch…argued that the standards ask too much of young children and too little of older ones, creating a level of stress that isn’t necessary.

“We’re turning five- and six-year-olds into good little corporate board members,” Effrem said.

She said the emphasis on skills that students are too young to have can lead to symptoms such as avoiding schools, insomnia, panic attacks and self-mutilation.

“It is turning teachers who do not necessarily have training in psychology essentially into psychologists,” she told the board, “and that could be potentially dangerous because these assessments will go into child’s record and essentially follow them for life.”

The board was appreciative of the testimony, eager to review the extensive written material provided to them by the opponents, and asked thoughtful questions.  Many thanks go to retiring board member Debbi Demien for her great work in arranging the testimony, Dr. Byrne for excellent testimony, and the support of the many Missouri activists that arranged the trip and came to support the event.
Sep 14, 2013
ELW

Problems with Data Privacy in Relation to Common Core Standards, The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, and The Education Sciences Reform Act

Karen R. Effrem, MD

President – Education Liberty Watch

The type and amount of personal, family, and non-academic data collected by the schools, reported in state longitudinal databases and used for research by the federal government was stimulated by the passage of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA) and has grown rapidly since then.  Loss of student and family data privacy has been accelerated by the proliferation of education programs funded by the federal government, especially in the early childhood realm and including home visiting programs that collect a plethora of medical, psychological, and family data and the effort to integrate standards, programs and data literally from “cradle to career” through P-20W education program integration and state longitudinal databases that were part of the Head Start reauthorization of 2007 and required by the Race to the Top and Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant programs starting in 2009.

ESRA is up for reauthorization. That law allows the National Center for Education Statistics to collect data “by other offices within the Academy and by other Federal departments, agencies and instrumentalities.” and “enter into interagency agreements for the collection of statistics.”  That data covers from preschool through the work life of every American citizen and includes “the social and economic status of children, including their academic achievement,” meaning every aspect of their lives and the lives of their families.  This combined with the weakening of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to be described below is a great danger to the privacy of American families and makes the data collection by the IRS and NSA look tame.

In addition, although ESRA makes an effort to prohibit a national database of individually identifiable student data in section 182 by saying, “Nothing in this title may be construed to authorize the establishment of a nationwide database of individually identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this title;” that language appears to be negated by this language in Section 157:

“The Statistics Center may establish 1 or more national cooperative education statistics systems for the purpose of producing and maintaining, with the cooperation of the States, comparable and uniform information and data on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, adult education, and libraries, that are useful for policymaking at the Federal, State, and local levels.” (Emphasis added).

That language is even more worrisome in light of the grants to fund and promote state longitudinal databases in section 208 of ESRA, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and even more heavily promoted in the Race to the Top K-12 and Early Learning Challenge programs. Continue reading »

Aug 12, 2013
ELW

Feds Resolute Yet Tone Deaf on Data Collection

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President of Education Liberty Watch

Attending the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)  STATS DC 2013 Data Conference “Discovering Through Data” was certainly an eye-opening experience for me.  Despite protestations that they are concerned about the public perceptions on privacy protection, it was very clear that they are not backing down on the amount and type of very personal private information they intend to collect on children and families from a young age and that gathering data is still a greater concern for them than individual student privacy.  Here is my report showing some evidence of that contention based on sessions that I attended.

NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley won the award for  most tone deaf presentation title, calling his introductory keynote speech (not kidding!) “We Are From the Federal Government and We REALLY Are Here to Help You.”  In that talk, while acknowledging that the” balance [between privacy and the government’s desire for data] is in a very delicate place, and that if we fail here in a very spectacular way, much of what we have done in the last ten to fifteen years could be undone,” he also spoke of “balancing the rights of our students & their families to keep their data confidential & secret as appropriate, but also to balance the needs that we have for the massive investment in education, of understanding its returns, of understanding how the system is working, how do we improve it, with the ultimate goal always of improving the educational outcomes of our citizens…” It is clear that the “massive investment” is more important than privacy.

That data privacy is a secondary concern is confirmed by this quote from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) website that says, “While state policymakers bear the responsibility for protecting student privacy, they need not do so at the sake of restricting the use of quality, longitudinal education data in support of their ultimate goal: improving student achievement.”  It is important to note that the DQC is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Alliance for Early Success,, AT&T, and Target, all entities that will profit heavily by having lots of data collected on our children.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also funding a very alarming student database project called inBloom that already  holds data that includes “name, address and sometimes social security number…learning disabilities…test scores, attendance…student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.”

Buckley also complained about he and his fellow federal data gatherers  being of accused of an “attempt to catalog students and track them for life based on their eye color or their genetic code…”  Apparently, he was not aware of the content of all the presentations planned for the conference.  Interestingly enough one of the sessions that I attended later in the conference was called P-20W Data Standards for More Successful Student Transitions and Life-Long Learning.  In that session, they spoke of the data collection from early childhood through the workforce, including health and developmental (mental health) data in early childhood.  Not even realizing that the early childhood presenter was from Rhode Island, I asked about that state’s plan documented in their Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Application to combine health data, including the newborn screening, i.e. genetic, data with their preschool and K-12 data.. [We reported on this outrageous government collection of the most personal of data in Preschool Government Tyranny – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”] saying:

Rhode Island’s proposed early learning data system will be linked to both the state’s K-12 data system and to the state’s universal newborn screening and health data system, helping to identify children with high needs, track participation in programs, and track children’s development and learning.” This is a classic example of the rapidly expanding philosophy that the government owns every single bit of medical and education data about you and every family member from conception until after death. We are seeing this played out in the realm of DNA medical data and now private mental health data through these subjective and worthless assessments.   These assessments will then be added and linked to health data so that government bureaucrats will be able to label the young children they consider to be mentally ill or flag them for future evaluations.

The Obama preschool plan is largely based on the ideas of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. That plan is to also expand home visiting programs which are accompanied by even more data collection on infants and families.  Continue reading »

Jul 25, 2013
ELW

U.S. House Passes Student Success Act with Strong Anti-Common Core Language

Despite numerous communications from Common Core proponents on boths sides of the aisle that anyone that raises concerns about the Common Core system is “misinformed,” “a conspiracy theorist,” or “crazy,” we are very grateful that the US House of Representatives did not get those memos. Great thanks and congratulations should go to the Reps. John Kline (MN-2 and chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee) and the 12 co-sponsors of HR 5, the Student Success Act,as well as the 200+ other members that voted for this bill that contained such strong anti-Common Core Language. The purpose of HR 5 is to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind. Here are two of several excellent examples of the anti-Common Core language:

  • Voluntary Partnerships- A State may enter into a voluntary partnership with another State to develop and implement the academic standards and assessments required under this section, except that the Secretary shall not, either directly or indirectly, attempt to influence, incentivize, or coerce State–`(1) adoption of the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or assessments tied to such standards; or`(2) participation in any such partnerships.
  • SEC. 5521. PROHIBITION AGAINST FEDERAL MANDATES, DIRECTION, OR CONTROL.`(a) In General- No officer or employee of the Federal Government shall, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s specific instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curricula, or program of instruction, (including any requirement, direction, or mandate to adopt the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States), nor shall anything in this Act be construed to authorize such officer or employee to do so.`(b) Financial Support- No officer or employee of the Federal Government shall, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, make financial support available in a manner that is conditioned upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction, (including any requirement, direction, or mandate to adopt the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or any assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to such standards), even if such requirements are specified in an Act other than this Act, nor shall anything in this Act be construed to authorize such officer or employee to do so.

In addition, a “Sense of Congress” amendment to HR 5 was passed by 231 of 234 Republicans that “States and local educational agencies should maintain the rights and responsibilities of determining educational curriculum, programs of instruction, and assessments for elementary and secondary education.” This amendment was authored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.(MO-3) who had also authored an excellent letter to Secretary Arne Duncan about the many problems with Common Core, federal overreach, and data collection.  That letter was co-signed by 35 other members including Rep,MIchele Bachmann (MN-6) and Rep. Trey Radel (FL19).  Rep. Radel said the following in support of the Luetkemeyer amendment:

  • “The Department of Education heavily incentivized & pressured states into adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiatives.  These national standards and assessments ultimately determine the curriculum and teaching materials used in classrooms across the nation.”

We wonder if the proponents of Common Core, such as Arne Duncan, former Governor Bush, Florida Senator John Thrasher, who continue to put out tired talking points without proof and impugning opponents as mentally unstable consider Rep. Radel and the rest of the House Republicans that supported this legislation “misinformed” and laboring under “conspiracy theories”?

Finally, Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2) along with eight co-sponsors have authored HR 2089, The Defending State Authority Over Education Act of 2013.  It is a separate bill that contains anti-Common Core  language similar to that of HR 5 quoted above.  Both because HR 5 passed as a partisan bill with little or no Democrat support and therefore facing a steep uphill climb in the Senate, where a bill that seeks to centralize federal power over education even more has passed committee, and because this really should be a non-partisan issue, we urge you to contact your members of Congress and talk to them about supporting HR 2089 which only covers Common Core and federal control of education.  Thank you.

Despite numerous communications from former governor Jeb Bush, Commissioner Tony Bennett and the Florida Department of Education, Governor Rick Scott, State Board of Education Member John Cologne, Majority Leader Steve Precourt, Senator John Thrasher, and numerous former Republican chairs that anyone who raises concerns about the Common Core system is “misinformed,” “a conspiracy theorist,” or “crazy,” we are very grateful that the US House of Representatives did not get those memos. Great thanks and congratulations should go to the Reps. John Kline (chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee) and the 12 co-sponsors of HR 5, the Student Success Act,as well as the 200+ other members that voted for this bill that contained such strong anti-Common Core Language. The purpose of HR 5 is to reuathorize the Elementary and secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind. Here are two of several excellent examples of the anti-Common Core language:

  • Voluntary Partnerships- A State may enter into a voluntary partnership with another State to develop and implement the academic standards and assessments required under this section, except that the Secretary shall not, either directly or indirectly, attempt to influence, incentivize, or coerce State–`(1) adoption of the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or assessments tied to such standards; or`(2) participation in any such partnerships.
  • SEC. 5521. PROHIBITION AGAINST FEDERAL MANDATES, DIRECTION, OR CONTROL.`(a) In General- No officer or employee of the Federal Government shall, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s specific instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curricula, or program of instruction, (including any requirement, direction, or mandate to adopt the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States), nor shall anything in this Act be construed to authorize such officer or employee to do so.`(b) Financial Support- No officer or employee of the Federal Government shall, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, make financial support available in a manner that is conditioned upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction, (including any requirement, direction, or mandate to adopt the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, any other academic standards common to a significant number of States, or any assessment, instructional content, or curriculum aligned to such standards), even if such requirements are specified in an Act other than this Act, nor shall anything in this Act be construed to authorize such officer or employee to do so.

In addition, a “Sense of Congress” amendment to HR 5 was passed by 231 of 234 Republicans that “States and local educational agencies should maintain the rights and responsibilities of determining educational curriculum, programs of instruction, and assessments for elementary and secondary education.” This amendment was authored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.(MO-3) who had also authored an excellent letter to Secretary Arne Duncan about the many problems with Common Core, federal overreach, and data collection.  That letter was co-signed by three Republican Florida members of Congress: Rep. Richard Nugent (FL-11), Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-5), and Rep. Trey Radel (FL19).  Rep. Radel said the following in support of that amendment:

  • “The Department of Education heavily incentivized & pressured states into adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiatives.  These national standards and assessments ultimately determine the curriculum and teaching materials used in classrooms across the nation.”

We wonder if the Florida proponents of Common Core, such as Governor Bush, Governor Scott, Senator Thrasher, and others consider Rep. Radel and the rest of the House Republicans that supported this legislation “misinformed” and laboring under “conspiracy theories”?

Finally, Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2) along with eight co-sponsors including Rep. Radel have authored HR 2089, The Defending State Authority Over Education Act of 2013.  It is a separate bill that contains language similar to that of HR 5 quoted above.  Both because HR 5 passed as a partisan bill with little or no Democrat support and therefore facing a steep uphill climb in the Senate, where a bill that seeks to centralize federal power over education even more has passed committee, and because this really should be a non-partisan issue, we urge you to contact your members of Congress and talk to them about supporting HR 2089 which only covers Common Core and federal control of education.  Thank you. – See more at: http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/news/2013-07/us-house-passes-student-success-act-with-strong-anti-common-core-language.htm#sthash.7p7LG4s5.dpuf