Minnesota Data Practices Commission Makes Its Debut!

I see you

A Legislative Commission on Data Practices made its debut on July 2014 with an eye to oversee what has become an open data environment in our state.  Yes, 2014, you read that right… but it is important nonetheless!  At their initial meeting, Chair Mary Liz Holberg, (former Rep-Lakeville) and 8 legislators (4 senators and 4 representatives) pondered their mission in establishing policy on data collection, data access and citizen privacy while playing “catch up” with state law in regards to state government tracking of citizens.  The commission had several meetings interviewing and receiving presentations from various state agencies.

Read more: http://politicsinminnesota.com/2014/07/data-practices-commission-debuts-with-unresolved-issues-on-its-mind/#ixzz3k4rZOc00

Interestingly, the Commission received a presentation from the Minnesota Department of Education, Office of Higher recently, unveiling what and how data is collected on our children, as well as, all adults.  The Office of Higher Learning is the administrative lead for the Minnesota SLEDS (State Longitudinal Education Data System).

Keep posted for our next installment on the Minnesota SLEDS!

Time for Test Refusal Letters!

Student backpack test refusal

Fall is nearly here!   Soon the cooler weather and beautiful colors of fall will surround us, and with it, the start of school.   The first tests arrive  within the first two weeks of school, and so it’s a perfect time to complete your refusal letter.

The testing craze has nearly taken over instruction in our schools.   Let me restate.  In OUR schools, a federal testing craze has taken over and has been accepted by our local schools. This started in the days of No Child Left Behind and has snowballed with some districts testing 7 to 8 and up to 14 standardized tests per year in our state of Minnesota.  Our US Dept of Education is calling for daily testing through the online curriculum program titled, “ConnectEd”.

Where will it end?  Will it end on its own?  Although parents were involved during the No Child Left Behind years there was not enough involvement to turn this around.  We are already hearing parent statements about how much testing has gone on in three days of school and the anxiety it is causing their children in the early-start school districts, charters and online.  Enter YOU and I for such a time as now!

MACC and Refuse the Tests have three letter options.  You can always write your own and be as formal or informal as you’d like.  Please be sure to edit the letter with your name, email,  your child’s name and other information.  Sign and hand deliver to your principal, teacher(s), testing director and/or curriculum director.

Test Refusal Letter #1 informs that your child will be refusing testing and surveys.

Test Refusal #1 tests and surveys only

Test Refusal Letter #2 informs that your child will be refusing testing, surveys and data collection, including biometric.

Test Refusal #2 (1)

Test Refusal Letter #3 informs that your child will be refusing testing, surveys, data collection and all online curriculum.  Be sure to ask your principal for a textbook instead of online curriculum.

Refuse Tests #3 (1)

Don’t forget to read this article by Sarah Lahm and her interview with the Minnesota Department of Education on refusing the tests. The MDE states that testing is not tied to funding.  This information is still very much valid.





School to Work or College and Career Ready: What Can Be Wrong with That?


Industrial Revolution children workers

School to Work or College and Career Ready:  What Can Be Wrong with That?

Clearly parents today are worried over whether or not their children are College and Career Ready.   The societal voices begin early and push hard beginning at birth.   Did the parents sign up with Parent Aware for birth to 3 government information?  Have you had your home visits?  Are the children ready for preschool?  Are they ready for kindergarten? First grade?  Have they passed all their federal Common Core tests in 3rd?  4th?  5th?  6th?  7th?  8th?   What Career Path was designated at 7th?  Did your child receive 4 year college or 2 year college on their ACT PLAN test? Has the school (or you as a parent) developed the curriculum for the Career Path through middle and high school?  A Career Path that is steered toward one or possibly two limited careers?  A Career Path with a possibly narrowed curriculum?  In today’s America, this is the overly regulated system of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind, that many parents (and students) have come to know.

How did we get here?  A country founded on freedom in every area of life.   A country where education was purposely not written into the Constitution and thereby designated into state and local domains.  How did America get to the point where we place kids on Career Paths, even in middle school and where our Secretary of Education envisions 2nd grade as a even better placement opportunity based on children’s data collected from birth?  Diane Ravitch writes about Sec. Duncan’s comment.  http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/05/my-favorite-line-from-arne-duncan-what-is-yours/comment-page-1/

One of the most important “workforce” stepping stones of the  20th century and nearly 20 years ago was the “School to Work” initiative.  School to Work and GOALS 2000 were federal laws passed and sent on to the various states in 1994. GOALS 2000 was the writing of federal education standards developed at the federal level.  These were significant rewrites of History, Civics, Government, and Economics under GOALS 2000 as well as a major move away from the “classic” Literature that America had enjoyed in its classrooms for generations.  (Yes!  This has all happened before Common Core!)  The School to Work program promoted the ground-breaking idea that schools were first and foremost skill training centers for work and business interests.  Schools moved away from being a place where one could receive an expansive liberal arts education, one that would prepare a student for any workforce profession.

The School to Work Opportunities Act.  http://www.fessler.com/SBE/act.htm

The GOALS 2000: Educate America Act. http://www2.ed.gov/legislation/GOALS2000/TheAct/index.html

Education essentially became skills training and that is where we are today with College and Career Ready.  C&CR is merely the updated brand of School to Work.

So what is School to Work and what is the concern?  Recently I came across an article written in 1997 that describes the concern felt just following passage of the federal legislation.   I was hearing about School to Work/GOALS 2000 planning at my university and from doctoral student-friends while in graduate school (1991) and their concerns though I don’t believe any were voiced with professors.  “What’s Wrong with School to Work?”  By Robert Holland outlines and discusses seven major concerns with School to Work (College and Career Ready).   Holland was Columnist and Op-Ed Editor at the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch.

  1. School to Work, which is linked with GOALS 2000, inject the federal government deeply and dangerously into shaping the curriculum of American schools.
  2. School to Work locks students into career tracks much too early, chilling opportunity and killing youthful dreams.
  3. School to Work drastically narrows the curriculum, making it less likely that schools will produce literate, well-rounded generalists who can cope with rapid change in civic life as well as the workforce.
  4. School to Work infringes on the sovereignty of the individual and the family.
  5. School to Work, as part of the national human resource development system, cuts local school boards and state legislators almost completely out of the decision-making loop.
  6. School to Work is part of a managed economy and data-collecting network that poses grave dangers to Americans’ liberty and their privacy.
  7. Judging by the historical record, School to Work simply doesn’t work (and uses historical examples).

Do we really want “College and Career Ready” or as it was called twenty years ago “School to Work” for our children?  The No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act is that same iteration of School to Work and GOALS 2000 and it is about to be voted on again with overreaching  and expansive regulations in state law, religious schooling, psychological profiling and continued testing mandates.  Call your US senator and representative and tell them to vote NO on the ESEA!

What’s Wrong with School to Work?  By Robert Holland    It’s worth the read!


Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act: Senate and House Convenes to “Marry” Bills


MACC is disappointed to announce that Senate Bill 1777 – Every Child Achieves Act – has passed in the Senate, 81 – 17.  This new version of No Child Left Behind, the Senate version of the ESEA – Elementary and Secondary Education Act, sets the tone and mandates for education in the Country.  While both parties had the opportunity to return educational control to states, both houses of Congress have chosen to pass their versions of the ESEA rewrite.

Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) goes a long way in continuing the policies of No Child Left Behind under George W. Bush and does not come close to “fixing” this law.   ECAA contains the very same federal Common Core aligned testing mandates that have beleaguered children and teachers for 14 years.  This mandate requires 95 percent of students take the tests which may encourage schools to disallow parents to opt out.  And yet this is a parent’s right to guide their child’s education.  (Section 1111)  Measurements of accountability must be reported to the federal Dept of Education and with compliance in order to continue receiving Federal funds.

Psychological profiling will be used for our youngest citizens, birth through five.  Babies must be College and Career Ready!  This is both a health and medical system of accountability. Will teachers be stepping in for psychologists?  Will administrators diagnose based on psychological health profiles?  Psychologists and neuropsychologists study for years to learn about the delicate nature of the psyche.   Federal definitions in mental health will be promoted as well as significant testing in the schools.  (Section 4104)  ECAA expands data collection via disaggregated information, ie. personally identifiable information.

The ECAA continues and expands its over reach into the total redesign of cities and towns through far-reaching systems of accountability.  Community Learning Centers and Promise Neighborhoods are expanded under this version of No Child Left Behind.  (Section 4201) The legislation places government as the center of the community not families or faith-based entities.  These Centers will keep children busy 6 – 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day and all year.  “School becomes the Center of the Community,” as Arne Duncan is quoted in his infamous Charlie Rose interview. https://youtu.be/TLQNFnUhWhw

Minnesota is left with this master-serf relationship between the federal and state government.  First and foremost, ECAA is unconstitutional.  At one point in testimony yesterday, Sen Alexander stated that a particular amendment was “unconstitutional”.  The fact is, the whole bill is unconstitutional.  The bill declares, “The state shall submit” and “The Secretary [Fed DOE] shall have power to disapprove a state plan” (Sec. 1111)   “If a State makes significant changes to its plan at any time…such information shall be submitted to the Secretary”.  (Section 1111)   There may be consequences for non-compliance.  Parenthetically, Minnesota need only be a “serf” if she chooses to be!

Although the ECAA claims to give local control back to states and schools, it does not and gathers more federal power unto itself.  MACC is troubled by the language of these bills, and the additional challenges the bills put on parents, teachers and local school districts in deciding the best for their children’s education.  MACC feels that this federal takeover of education is in violation of the 10th Amendment, which mandates the right and ability of states to control their own destiny and, in fact, is in total violation of the Constitution.

If your Congressmen voted as you indicated, please call or write to thank them.  However, if they did not vote for you, as your constituent representative, call and write your displeasure.   Pull out portions of legislation right before them or by email.  If this law passes, America will be stuck with No Child Left Behind all over again and for another seven years.

The process continues as the Senate and House will convene to “marry” the two bills, S. 1177 and HR 5, culminating with a vote of the entire Congress on the newly combined bill.  MACC will be following this process.  We still have much that we can do as citizens!  Don’t allow wealthy lobbyists, like the NGA (National Governors Association), the CCSSO (Chief Council of State School Officers), AFT (American Federation of Teachers) and NEA (National Education Association) to take your voice away.  Remind your Congressmen who voted them in and who will vote them out. Know the legislation better than they do.  Most have never read these new bills, nor have they read the earlier versions.  Talk to your US representatives and senators NOW.  Tell them to vote “NO” on the ESEA.  Then contact your Minnesota representative and senator and let them know that we do not want this No Child Left Behind rewrite in Minnesota.  The last decision will be up to our legislature as they are asked to approve the ESEA on behalf of Minnesotans.  We’re not giving up!!!

Keeping you informed on CCSS in Minnesota


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,175 other followers