A Mom’s response to Luna letter

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 17, 2013 0 Comments

This is the opening of a letter sent out by Supt. Luna:

Dear Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Chairman John Goedde and Chairman Reed DeMordaunt:

In recent months, the Idaho State Department of Education has fielded
many questions related to data collection in education. As the state
moves toward higher academic standards in mathematics and English
language arts, some have tried to make a connection between our
transition to these new standards and data collection. We all know this
is not the case. The two are completely unrelated. However, many
individuals have raised concerns about data collection that are valid
and should be taken seriously.


Here’s one mother’s response:



How in the world can Mr. Luna get away with saying that data collection and changing standards are “completely unrelated”?!  Categorically, Standards and Assessments and Data Systems to Support Instruction are listed as B and C on the Race To The Top application.  (If we’re playing “the glad game,” then at least the federal government believes that Idaho is actually “using data to improve instruction,” as demonstrated by our award of 15.2 out of 18 points possible in this area on our Phase I RTTT app.)   

Taken from my own research compilation in June:

On March 7, 2009, the US Department of Education (ED) announced the SFSF one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  Of the $53.6 billion designated, $48.6 billion would be granted to governors in a formulated fashion “in exchange for a commitment to advance essential education reforms to benefit students from early learning through post-secondary education, including: college- and career- ready standards and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students; development and use of pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems; increasing teacher effectiveness and ensuring an equitable distribution of qualified teachers; and turning around the lowest-performing schools. “(http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html ).  Only the remaining $5 billion would be awarded through head-to-head competition via the federal “Investing in What Works and Innovation” and “Race to the Top” programs.  

In Governor Otter’s “Recommendation on Federal Stimulus American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” under the paragraph “Acceptance of Funds, ” Gov. Otter lists Idaho’s formulated portion as $1.24 billion over three years with an estimated $201.7 million derived from the Education Stabilization Fund provision of ARRA. You can find Gov. Otter’s recommendation at http://accountability.idaho.gov/pdf/Governor_Recommendation.pdf (pp. 2-3). As further confirmation of this, the US Department of Education “Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request” lists the “Recovery Act Estimate” for Idaho’s “Education State Grant” as $201,699,682. http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget10/justifications/e-sfsf.pdf (p. 18).  

If you can’t see a clear and present relationship between the changing standards and data collection, then you must be a victim of Common Core brainwashing! (Think this statement will elicit a reaction?)  

Additionally, is teachers’ data so well-protected that it needs no mention?  I realize this debate is largely about our students, but sensitive educator information is at stake as well.  Staff Demographics and Employment, Staff Assignments, and Teacher Attendance are all sections listed on the Excel spreadsheet with reasons for collection such as SIG, ARRA, SFSF, EdFacts, state funding, certification, NCES, EDEN, “and more.”  It’s the totally vague “and more” that scares me! 

How strong exactly will this firewall be?  I know the firewall in my computer software can be disabled with a couple of mouse clicks.  What will this do to strengthen FERPA, if anything?  Will this ensure that written parental consent must be provided before access to data is granted?  Is this just to serve as a pacification to those of us who have raised our voices?  (April Craig)



The documents that were signed to either receive or compete for federal money all had two things in common,  adopting a set of common standards and setting up a data collecting system.  Most people who’ve looked at the documents can see a pretty clear connection.   So while the idea of a firewall is nice it doesn’t do any good if you let the pyro in with his gasoline and matches.

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