Could A Secretary Of Education Bill Evers Stop The Whoring Out Of Personal Student Data?

In 2011, the Obama Administration changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act so third parties would have access to personal student data.  This has been a major point of contention on this blog for over a year now.  Our children are guinea pigs for state departments of education, the feds, and more corporate education reform companies than you can shake a leg at.  But we could have some relief if Bill Evers is selected as the United States Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.

While I don’t like some of Evers’ thoughts on charter schools and school vouchers, I do immensely enjoy what he said in a hearing on Common Core in Ohio.  This is what he said about student data privacy and the changes to FERPA in 2011.  Thanks to Education Next for reporting this back in 2013!

Data about Ohio students will flow to the U.S. Department of Education through PARCC, the national test consortium to which Ohio belongs. In return for the money it received from the federal government, PARCC has to provide the U.S, Department of education with its student-level data.  Ohio can do nothing about this as long as it is in a federally-funded national test consortium.  It would have to leave PARCC to block this process of data transfer.

This issue is of personal concern to me.  When I was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, the student privacy office was part of my portfolio.  Until December 2011, the U.S. Department of Education interpreted the student privacy protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) strictly, but reasonably.

But in 2011, the Obama administration turned those protections upside down. The Obama administration reinterpreted technical terms and provisions of the law to allow access to student personal data to non-education government agencies and to private vendors and contractors. It removed requirements that parents had to give consent if third-parties were given  access to student personal data. The Obama administration made this change, in large measure, to facilitating workforce planning by government agencies.

We live in a time of concern about abuse of data collection and data management — by the NSA, the IRS, and other agencies. Ohio policymakers should be concerned about the privacy of student personal data and its possible misuse.

To facilitate workforce planning by government agencies… there we have it!  And we thought Hillary Clinton would stop that?  Hell no!  Is Trump involved in this “workforce planning”?  That is the whole point of all that we are seeing in education: Common Core, high-stakes standardized tests, Pathways to Prosperity, all the education technology, the very bad accountability standards, the smoke and mirrors with teachers which are causing more teachers to leave the profession, the educator quick prep programs like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the plethora of companies that are profiting immensely while students do without.  All of these were and are designed to create this workforce of tomorrow.  A plan geared towards tracking and pushing students into certain career paths.  They love to say it is for the greater good, but don’t be fooled!  It is control, pure and simple.  I don’t trust anything going on at the state or federal level.  But I do know a lot of it hinges on the data.  And if these companies are robbed of the opportunity to get private information about students, that is a major monkey wrench in their plans.

In 2015, former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was fighting an opt out bill in the First State.  He told the press something to the effect of “It’s the data.  The data is important to us.”  Don’t quote me on that, but it was all about the data.  It was probably the truest thing the guy ever said.  When will we reach the point when we can firmly put this corporate education reform era to bed?  When can educators get the respect they need and our students can learn without being subjected to being nothing more than lab rats for government and corporate agendas?  There is no better time like the present!

There is a petition already out on Change.org to send to President Trump to have Evers appointed as the next United States Secretary of Education.  Please sign the petition NOW!

https://www.change.org/p/president-elect-donald-j-trump-appoint-an-education-secretary-with-integrity

U.S. Supreme Court To Decide The Value Of FAPE In Special Education

The  United States Supreme Court will decide the fate of millions of special education students in America when they rule on a controversial case regarding what the appropriate amount of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) is for students with disabilities.  The landmark case, Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District, could have major consequences for special education students.

According to Disability Scoop:

The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the matter comes at the urging of the Obama administration. In a brief issued last month, the U.S. solicitor general agreed with the parents that the IDEA requires schools to provide more than minimal benefit to students with disabilities.

“This court should hold that states must provide children with disabilities educational benefits that are meaningful in light of the child’s potential and the IDEA’s stated purposes. Merely aiming for non-trivial progress is not sufficient,” the solicitor general indicated.

This could be a moment of triumph or severe disappointment.  With the rise of Common Core and a transition from teacher-led instruction to constant bombardment of education technology and a competency-based education environment, students with disabilities have suffered the most from the constant education reform that has taken place over the past twenty plus years.  As their numbers rise, so do the corporate profits.  They have been forced to take a litany of state assessments that have the same results, year after year: these students tend to perform the worst on these tests.  The amount of parents choosing to go the home school route for their special needs children has risen dramatically in the last decade.

A free appropriate public education, in its current landscape, comes with a very steep price for students with disabilities.  Unless the Supreme Court clearly defines what FAPE should be, in the face of the overwhelming corporate-driven changes in our schools, these children will continue to be lost in public education.  Personalized learning, in the modern-day era meaning, would gear all students towards their own individual education plans which strips the special out of special education.  This flies in the face of what disability advocates fight for every single day.

Education & Workforce Committee Slam Secretary John King Over Homeschool Remarks

The fun never stops in Washington D.C.  After U.S. Secretary of Education John King said some rather stupid things about homeschooled students yesterday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee thought they should issue a press release on King’s comments.  I have to agree with them!

Education & the Workforce Committee Contact: Press Office
September 23, 2016 (202) 226-9440
Secretary Knows Best?

The Obama administration has always had a “we-know-best” mentality when it comes to K-12 education. The Department of Education has spent years unilaterally dictating education policy through pet projects and conditional waivers. Last year, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan boasted that the department’s lawyers are “much smarter than many of the folks” working in the United States Congress. And in recent months, the department has put forward new rules that reflect the same old top-down approach to the nation’s classrooms.

Now, Secretary John King is sounding off on parents who decide to homeschool their children. According to Politico Pro:

[Secretary King said] that he’s concerned that homeschooled students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids” …

[King] said he worries that “students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school”—unless parents are “very intentional about it.”

We wonder if the secretary intentionally left out some key facts about the nation’s homeschool students:

  • According to the most recent data, nearly 1.8 million students are homeschooled each year, an increase of over 17 percent since 2007.
  • Homeschool students excel on reading and math tests, scoring in the 89th percentile and 84th percentile, respectively.
  • Students who are homeschooled typically score higher than public school students on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.
  • As reported by U.S. News and World Report, a study of students at one doctoral university showed homeschooled students “graduated college at a higher rate than their peers—66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent—and earned higher grade point averages along the way.”

But the secretary knows best, right? Not quite. At a time when the Obama administration was busy setting national education policy, there has been little improvement in student achievement and graduation rates:

  • Only 36 percent of 8th graders are reading at grade level today—a number that remains virtually unchanged since 2009.
  • Only 26 percent of 12th graders are proficient in math—a startling statistic that also has not changed since 2009.
  • One out of every five students is dropping out of school—again, a number that’s largely unchanged since the president took office in 2009.

We all agree that every child deserves to have an excellent education. That’s the reason Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law protects homeschools from federal interference and empowers parents to do what they believe is best for their children. Why? Because that’s what is best for America’s students—whether the secretary knows it or not.

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