Category Archives: personally identifiable information

Minnesota’s Data Practices Commission Meets our State Dystopian Data System Novel-in-the-Making

Little girl with magnifying glass in hand. Sitting at desk in front of blackboard. Magnifying her's eye. Looking at camera. Front view

Minnesota’s Data Practices Commission Meets our State Dystopian Data System Novel-in-the-Making

Can you imagine your child’s school teacher or principal presenting you with your life’s profession in the 7th grade? Without you or your parent’s consent or discussion?  In Minnesota, “career pathways” which lead to “successful workforce outcomes” decided primarily by a child’s data is one of the main missions of the State Longitudinal Educational Data System or SLEDS.   Minnesota meet Dystopia!

Last December 2014, the recently formed Data Practices Commission sat down for a presentation from the Minnesota Office of High Learning to find out just what is going on with data collection and the student database in our state.   Although the presentation involved mostly goals and management of the SLEDS, career pathways were mentioned in passing.  I was rather amazed at the amount of information on career pathways in Minnesota!

Remember Lois Lowry’s, The Giver, written in 1993?  The novel is “set in a society which at first appears as a Utopian Society but then later is revealed to be a Dystopian one, as the story progresses. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth and thirteenth years of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicate emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community’s decision making. Jonas struggles with concepts of all of the new emotions, and things being introduced to him, and whether they are inherently good, evil, in-between, and if it’s even possible to have one without the other. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate and terrain whatsoever, all in effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.”

“Jonas, who is eleven years old, is apprehensive about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve (7th grade), where he will be assigned his career or his “assignment in the community”.  In his society, little privacy is allowed; even private houses have two-way intercoms which can be used to listen in for infractions of the rules. However, the rules appear to be readily accepted by all, including Jonas.”  Read more here.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giver

Granted Lowry’s book is fiction but this story is eerily close to reality!  Interest in Career Pathways and Career Pathway Systems has been soaring since our US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan made this comment highlighting his faith in  data-driven decision making.

“My personal favorite [story] occurred when he [Duncan] visited a charter school in Brooklyn.  He told those assembled that the United States is facing both an economic crisis and an educational crisis. And then came this immortal line: “We should be able to look every second   grader in the eye and say, ‘You’re on track, you’re going to be able to go to a good college, or you’re not,” he said.”  Diane Ravitch, blog.  http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/05/my-favorite-line-from-arne-duncan-what-is-yours/

According to the Office of Higher Learning (Minnesota Department of Education) website, who helps manage the Minnesota State Longitudinal Education Data System, “SLEDS brings together data from education and workforce to identify viable pathways for individuals in achieving successful outcomes in education and work. It will also inform decisions to support and improve education and workforce policy, helping to create a more seamless education and workforce system for all Minnesotans.  SLEDS is populated with education and workforce data collected from the contributing state agencies MDE, the Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.”  http://sleds.mn.gov/

How does the Minnesota Department of Education collect your child’s data?  How are the databases populated?  The data is sent via ipad or chromebook.  Notice how many school districts are utilizing completely online curriculum and/or testing?  Your child logs in with their own personal school log-in ID and the data flies.  This is one of the identifiers for your child in the SLEDS.   That news for another segment!

Minnesota’s Career Pathways System is quite robust and nearly complete!  So who is interested in your little human capital’s career path besides you, the parent and your child?  There are numerous organizations in addition to:

  • Your child’s school district

 Robbinsdale Schools Logo

  • Minnesota Department of Education

Minnesota Department of Education Logo

Minnesota State Universities and Colleges

MN State Colleges and Universities

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Minnesota Department of Economic Development

Minnesota State Legislature via Minnesota World’s Best Workforce:  Statute 120B.11

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=120b.11

  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Logo

Minnesota Workforce Council

  • Pearson Workforce Education

Viridis Learning Logo                       Pearson Workforce Education

https://viridislearning.com/

  • The ACT and ACT WorkKeys

The ACT

  • Alliance for Quality Career Pathways

Alliance for Quality Career Pathways Logo

  • Advancing Career and Technical Education for Career Pathways

Advancing Career and Technical Education for Career Pathways Logo

  • Data Quality Campaign

Data Quality Campaign Logo

http://dataqualitycampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/files/pdf/stateprofiles/MN.pdf

A Career Pathway is your child’s sequence in curriculum, and therefore THE curriculum!  At what age do children know their own minds well enough to make big life decisions, such as their life-long career?  Business leaders need to ask themselves if 7th grade or earlier, an unwise “investment”?

Teachers and schools are no longer in the driver’s seat in curriculum development or  curriculum-sequencing.  Will these career pathways educate a child for all occupations, the broad liberal arts education that every child deserves, or deliver a more  narrow path for just a few occupations?  Who is ultimately in charge regarding curriculum?  Is it education or business?  That’s the question we must ask!  We feel that every child should be given every a great academic education, not a mere skills-based training, while allowing them to reach for the stars, whether it be in 2nd grade, 7th grade or 12th grade.

We highly encourage parents to refuse the tests and surveys given online, particularly computer adaptive as well as refuse online curriculum.  These three components feed the data system.

NEXT UP:  We delve into the world of Career Pathways from all perspectives!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/opt-out-guilt-free-minnesota-department-education-weighs/

 

 

 

Evil Will Prevail if we allow “Every Child Achieves Act” (S1177)

9 July, 2015

Evil will prevail if we allow “Every Child Achieves Act” (S1177)

By: Anne Taylor

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot going on in the world:  Most notably, Greece is about to lose it.  The NYSE experienced a “glitch” that suspended trading (call it a hack because no one else is willing to admit to it – maybe the power grid is overloaded – or is it?), the Wall Street Journal’s website went down following the NYSE “glitch”, United Airlines was grounded due to a faulty computer system and thousands “mysteriously” lose power in Washington D.C.

Did I mention that HR5 passed in the House, too?  There has been little, if any attention to these bills and their ramifications that will only allow evil to prevail in our American schools.  Our friends in Utah’s Common Core state group agree.  In fact, I can’t help but agree!  This is because there simply is no other word to describe it.

Below are 6 headline highlights from the article written by Utah’s state group, Common Core:  Education Without Representation, “Six Evil Things Hidden in S.1177 — “No Child Left Behind”.  You may read the full article and their extensive research here.

If this doesn’t raise the red flag alert, then I am concerned for our children’s future and this country.  The following IS NOT what the media is talking about regarding S1177:

  1. The bill aims to kill parental rights in the parental opt-out movement. “Taking away a parent’s authority over his or her own child is a crime that the Fed Ed is willing to try to get away with.  This bill says that states must not only give federally aligned common core tests (they use the code term “college and career ready” which is Common Core) but must collect data from 95 percent of the students.  That aims to kill our huge, growing parents’ opt out movement.  The bill says, “Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students”. (1111)”
  2. The bill’s master-servant relationship between Fed Ed and State Ed is unconstitutional. “It’s clearly, clearly unconstitutional.  States are supposed to be in charge of their own educational systems.  But in this bill, read: “The state shall submit,” and “The Secretary [Fed Ed] 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”.  That just gives the Fed Ed Secretary power to disapprove a state’s decision to drop Common Core.  (Sec. 1111)”

“Cementing Common Core is not what the authors of S.1177 said were the goals of the bill, yet there it is.  Putting parents last, and making states do the dirty work for the false authorities at the Department of Education, is a deceptive way of getting people to think that there’s less federal involvement, a misleading attempt to get conservative people to pass this bill.”

  1. The bill will suppress student expression of religious and political values. “…repeated use of the concept and term “school climate” –for example, in conditional “formula grants”.  These give the federal government power to model citizenship, to influence what is a federally appropriate world-view, and to pressure schools to suppress student expression of religious values, using each state as enforcer.  (Sec. 4103-4104).  The bill says that money will be conditionally given and that data gathered by the school will determine whether a student holds appropriate beliefs in the “school climate”.  This will allow absolute federal indoctrination in local schools. If family values don’t match Fed Ed values, there will be federally-directed school-based re-education.”

These include “…asking for collection of “school-level data on indicators or measures of school quality, climate and safety, and discipline, including those described in section 1111(d)(1)(C)(v); and risk factors in the community, school, family, or peer-individual domains that are known, through prospective, longitudinal research efforts, to be predictive of drug use, violent behavior, harassment, disciplinary issues, and having an effect on the physical and mental health and well-being of youth in the school and community.”

“That pressures schools to conform to federal definitions of mental health, and forces schools to collect longitudinal data to build and analyze children’s psychological profiles.   Schools wanting federal money must intervene if a student’s “mental health” or potential access to “violence” needs “mentoring”. (…by whose definition?)”

*I’ll add that if you’re uncertain what this means, read the “school climate” survey found in the Orono school district I reported on earlier this spring.

“The bill says:  “may include, among other programs and activities— drug and violence prevention activities and programs, including professional development and training for school and specialized instructional support personnel and interested community members in prevention, education, early identification, and intervention mentoring, and, where appropriate, rehabilitation referral, as related to drug and violence prevention… extended learning opportunities, including before and after school programs and activities, programs during summer recess periods, and expanded learning time…  school-based mental health services, including early identification of mental-health symptoms…  and appropriate referrals to direct individual or group counseling services” (4105)”

  1. The bill sees government, not families, at the center of the universe– for younger and younger people, for more and more of the time. “It allots money to fulfill Sec. Duncan’s “21st –century community learning centers” (Sec. 4201)  …this bill consumes more family time, giving so much time to government schools.   The “community creep” of Fed Ed schools expands in multiple ways if S.1177 passes.  The Fed Ed Secretary will pay “programs that support extended learning opportunities, including before and after school programs and activities, programs during summer recess periods, and expanded learning time; in accordance with subsections (c) and (d), school-based mental health services, including early identification of mental-health symptoms” — which means more government surveillance of belief and behavior, via more time spent with Fed Ed, and less time spent with Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.”

Notice “…that “and community” is attached after the word “school” repeatedly.  School and community.  School and community.  School and Community.  Why?  What business does the school have, expanding its creep into the community?  Yet that’s exactly what Secretary Duncan has been calling for, for years.  (See the old Charlie Rose interview on Youtube here, where Duncan asks for 6-7 day a week school, extremely long days, all year round, with school replacing home or church as community center.)”

  1. The bill promotes federal definitions of mental health and promotes collection of mental health data.                                           The bill will assume “…that fed ed defines mental health correctly, and for everyone…(promoting) even more data mining than we already have inflicted upon our children.”

“The local educational agency or consortium… shall take into account… school-level data on…   family… predictive of … mental health and well-being of youth in the school and community.” (See 4104)”

“Under a host of other issues identified as federally-politically-correct, your family teachings may not be compliant with federal definitions of mental “well-being” of youth.”  Government, not families, are at the center of the universe when school data is gathered on children without parental consent, used to judge families’ and students’ psychological, religious or belief-based attitudes.”

  1. Toddler Snatching. “I don’t like that the bill puts it hands on preschoolers.”  *(I don’t like it either being that I have a toddler as well!)  “It bullies preschools, too, by mandating federal preschool standards to be enforced by states, as it encourages states to take over toddler time from moms and dads.  I don’t like the time-away-from-family aim nor the data mining aim (without consent of parents, of course). Preschool babies are to be psychologically profiled by the state.  The bill does not state this plainly. You have to connect the dots:  the word “preschool” shows up 43 times in the bill.  Statewide preschool standards align with federal standards, creating nationalization of measurement of citizen babies; federal standards are heavily socio-emotional; it all results in the compilation of psychological data on very young children.  We already had the Dept. of Ed and its partners co-creating Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) the better to align everyone with, without voter input, and these folks wave banners with their motto (fourth principle): “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation“  of students’ personal data.   Your specific, individual child is wanted in their clutches.  That’s what disaggregation means:  not in a clump; individual.”

Now, will someone tell me there isn’t an elephant in Washington?

Take these highlights – all of them – any one of them at this point!  It’s time to kill this bill!

Continue to call, write and tweet your senators.  WE CANNOT DO THIS ALONE.

What Do Parent Surveys, Pearson & Finding Nemo Have in Common?

Summer Parade of Minnesota Surveys 2015 

What Do Parent Surveys, Pearson & Finding Nemo Have in Common?

By:  Anne Taylor

This spring MACC received quite a reaction from parents to public in our 4-part series “Spring Parade of Surveys.”  This fueled many to start paying closer attention to the kinds of questions their child is being asked in their school.  If you missed the series, you may go back and review the Spring collection of Surveys that included the following:  Search Institute, Matchomatics, National School Climate Center and the Minnesota Student Health Survey.  These were actual surveys given to us by parents in various districts.  With the exception of the Minnesota Student Health Survey (states usually carry their own version of this survey) the other three surveys mentioned above have received public scrutiny among parents across states, including lawsuits being filed.  Search Institute has been sued in connection with their district school board several times and in multiple states on behalf of parents for the districts lack of notification and consent to parents while violating privacy and the first amendment.

We decided it was time to continue the series based on the fact that so many parents did not realize how their child is being ‘mined’ on some of the most intrusive questions AND, often WITHOUT FRIST OBTAINING PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PARENT TO CONDUCT THE ACTUAL SURVEY OF A MINOR.

MACC supports parents in their fundamental right to guide the upbringing and education of their child.  According to the U.S. Constitution, parental rights are protected by the 14th amendment – including rights to religious/spiritual freedom in regard to parental control over one’s child.  Therefore, parents have a right to review and decide for themselves if their child should ever take a survey or answer any kind of in-district questionnaire or 3rd party survey.

To some, questions may not seem as intrusive or personal; some parents even think it is good to ask what kids feel.  Whatever the reason, parents continue to come back and tell us they do not like their child answering questions on school time.  Many teachers we have spoken to have said they do not like surveys as they take up what’s left of valuable, precious classroom teaching time.

In this series, however, the Eden Prairie school district conducted its own survey – this time, among its parents.  This is not unique in that many schools are increasingly offering surveys to parents in an effort to quickly communicate concerns, experiences and needs while summarizing their overall district experience.  I for one felt this initially an easy and convenient way to participate in my child’s school district, however; as many districts take on digitized learning, there also brings to question, the kinds of questions parents are being asked and how THEY will be tracked.

We don’t think much about the keychain fobs that include our phone number or giving our zip code at the checkout lane to add to those ‘bonus points’, even freely giving out an email address.  While this system of information clearly isn’t going away in our time, you have to wonder why it is suddenly the schools business to ask YOU what kinds of social media you the parent uses, and how often.

Early in March of this year, New Jersey superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett made headlines revealing that the company, Pearson, had been cooperating with the state’s education department to spy on student social media during PARCC testing (*Note: Minnesota does not use PARCC, but does have a contract with Pearson for an alternative test to measure the Common Core standards).  The school district expressed concerns over what Pearson may do with the data creating support, as well as a surge in the opt-out movement of standardized testing.

One of the major components of 21st Century Learning is digitized, on-line delivered learning – which sometimes includes surveys in the name of curriculum.  Perhaps the kinds of questions schools are asking parents are a way to gauge how involved the parent is with their child’s technology?  Questions also ask how much parents use their own technology including apps, software, legal use of web content as well as the kinds of personal devices used in the home.  If all of this is true and seemingly harmless, why then is it necessary to ask parents their age group, along with how many children is in the home.  Clearly, it is for marketing purposes and yet, it’s all information that is “anonymous” – Right?

To coin the character “Gill” in Disney’s Finding Nemo, “All drains lead to the ocean, kid”.  The same can be said for data systems.

Just as we “starve the beast” by opting our children out of standardized testing and data, you as a parent may consider starving your school’s data system and beyond by refraining from answering your school district survey.  Better yet, we encourage families to go into their school boards and personally address questions and concerns.  With that, you have created a relationship.  Something we can all agree does not always happen behind a screen.

 

EPHS Technolgy Survey 1 (2)

 

EP survey 2 (1)