The Sky is not Falling. Guest Post by Walter Trudo

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 3, 2013 0 Comments

Many of you know that I was recently invited to a meeting to discuss concerns regarding the Common Core issues that have taken over our education system. I have been asked by several people about the details of this meeting and who was present. On April 23rd at 7 am at the request of Representative Wendy Horman, I sat in a small room with Rep. Horman, Superintendent Tom Luna, the chair of Bonneville County Republicans and a gentleman from the Ammon City Council. This meeting was to discuss some of the concerns regarding Common Core and to give Mr. Luna a chance to clear up any misunderstandings that may be out there. I have been studying this issue for over 2 months now and was prepared going into this meeting. Mr Luna had no idea what was getting ready to come at him and it showed. Let’s just say that all present walked away with more questions than answers, except for Mr. Luna of course. Here is exactly the points that I made in that meeting to all that where present.

The sky is not falling:

– In the healthcare system when a new drug is produced, we are told about all the wonderful things that it will do for you. However, you never see a new medication come straight from the manufacturer and administered a patient.

– It has to go through a very vigorous process where it is properly studied and vetted to make sure that the drug does what it claims to do without any harmful effects to the patient then it can get the stamp of approval from the FDA to start being administered.

-Why would it be any different for our kid’s education.

-So many times I hear Mr. Luna and those defending common core say that these are higher standards, more rigorous.

-This may be true but what are you basing these statements on. What process did it go through before it was given the stamp of approval to be called higher standards and more rigorous? Where is the data to support these claims?

-I am not anti-education reform. I understand where Idaho sizes up on the list. What I don’t understand is the urgency to push this through at such an accelerated rate as if the sky is falling. Reminds me of Obama Care and how they had to hurry and pass the bill so we can find out what is in it.

-Why not give the legislators more time to listen to their constituents concerns and look at the details of these changes. We need their help and I will give you a specific example of what I mean.

State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS)

-Mr Luna has said on several occasion’s that “we have always collected data on students, this is nothing new”.

-This is true.  However, we have always collected aggregate data and never student specific-This is why it is NOT what we have always done.

-Parents won’ t know which of the over 400 Data Points will be collected on their children and added to a database. The state then contracts with private companies-third parties, selling them access to the info in the database.

-How is it legal for third parties to access student specific data? The US Dept of Ed changed FERPA (Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974)

-FERPA, which was signed into law in 1974, guaranteed parental access to student education records and limiting disclosure to 3rd parties.

-This change in FERPA not only eliminated parental consent but it now allows third party access to the student specific data without the knowledge or consent of students or their parents. Mr Luna, if we are doing what we have always done with this data collecting, then why was there a need for FERPA to change?

-InBloom , a 4-month old database funded by Bill & Melinda Gates, is an example of one of these databases. Although they pledge to guard the data tightly, their own privacy policy states that it “CANNOT guarantee the security of the information stored…..or that the information will not be intercepted while it is being transmitted”. This will put our children at a increased risk of identity theft.

-Children are already at higher risk for Identity Theft than adults because it is often not discovered until adulthood.

-Recovery from child identity theft takes years and cost families billions of dollars every year with no compensation to be paid to victims. All happening without their knowledge or consent.

-This could affect children’s potential employment, placement of college or face charges for crimes they didn’t commit. This will leave children exposed for their entire lifetime, through no fault of their own, creating the potential for years of stress and lost opportunities.

-For those that claim that a data breach is rare, they haven’t looked at the actual data on this. Federal/State Governments have lost more than 94 million data records in the past 4 years. Last year alone South Carolina put three-quarters of the states population at risk for Identity fraud. A hacker stole 3.6 million SS# and more than 650,000 businesses were compromised.

-Bill Gates himself was an example of a data breach when his personal data including SS#, birthday, credit card, and full credit report were posted online.

-Parents should have the fundamental right to know what information is being collected, who will have access to that info, and how it will be used. This gives back to the parents the right to correct information that is in error.

-Parents have the right to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children. Historically, the Supreme Court has supported that right. That means that Parents are the primary guardians of a child’s privacy.

-I am asking our legislatures to give this their attention and act to establish strong privacy protections by:

1. Give the parents the authority to protect their children by being able to opt out. Mr. Luna stated in this meeting that parents can opt out. I told him that in my line of work if it’s not documented then it didn’t happen. I challenged him to show me the documentation that states parents can opt out.

2. Prohibit Non-academic data collection and require disclosure of the types of student data tracked in the SLDS. Academic data can be obtained without trampling individual rights.

3. Pass a bill that would protect student privacy by prohibiting the release of personally identifiable information about individual students to third parties unless there is a parental consent or a student who is 18 years or older consents.

Turning massive amounts of personal data -specific to your child over to a private corporation without any public input is profoundly disturbing and irresponsible. We must act now. Legislators in other states are beginning to ask these same tough questions. I refer you to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) letter to Arne Duncan Secretary of US Dept of Education.

-I have all the documentation and data that supports everything that I have brought up today and would be happy to provide them upon request.

Additional Notes:

-Legislators in other states are putting the brakes on CC (Georgia, Alabama, Indiana to name a few).

-Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is challenging the changes to the FERPA in Court.

-EPIC is urging the Dept of Ed to only collect student data germane to teacher effectiveness, such as test scores, and opposed the agency’s collection of detailed student information such as actual name and disciplinary incidences.

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