"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Representative John Kline on Arne Duncan: "He's Not the Nation's Superintendent"

Does Arne Duncan have too much money and power?

In a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration, the Republican chairman of the House education committee on Thursday challenged plans by the education secretary to override provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Law, and he said he would use a House rewrite of it this year to rein in the secretary’s influence on America’s schools.

Representative John Kline:

“He’s not the nation’s superintendent,” Mr. Kline said of Mr. Duncan, who assumed powers greater than any of his predecessors when, in 2009, Congress voted $100 billion in economic stimulus money for the nation’s school systems and allowed the secretary to decide how much of it should be spent.

“Unquestionably, Congress gave the secretary way too much authority in the stimulus bill when it said, ‘Here’s $5 billion, go do good things for education,’ ” Mr. Kline said.

Duncan previously said if Congress does not reauthorize and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—popularly known as No Child Left Behind—he will take actions to amend the law himself. Representative Kline isn't impressed with Secretary Duncan's apparent belief he can craft legislation.

Idaho legislators don't seem to impressed with Duncan either. From Ed Week:

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is putting the feds on notice: His state will not follow key parts of the No Child Left Behind law anymore. Instead, Idaho will use its own accountability system.

"Idaho, like many other states, does not have the luxury of spending time and limited resources on meeting the rigid requirements of an outdated accountability system," Luna wrote. "If Congress and the Administration will not act, states like Idaho will."

Kentucky is out in front on this, and already has asked for permission (unlike the Idaho way of ask-forgiveness-not-permission) to use its own accountability model.

Duncan & Co., who so far have refused to articulate their waiver plan, are at risk of losing control of this debate over what happens to NCLB in the interim. Since they haven't gotten out in front of this issue, the states are doing so. And, if a bunch of states band together in defiance of NCLB and the feds, what will Duncan do about it, especially since he himself has admitted the law is fundamentally flawed?

Note the last paragraph of this article:

I'm waiting for a response from the Education Department. It seems unlikely the department can just let states such as Idaho call their own shots and ignore the law. What it can do is spell out a plan for waivers, and quickly.

"It seems unlikely the department can just let states such as Idaho call their own shots and ignore the law". The Department of Education shouldn't have the power to "let" states call their own shots. It's a state constitutional responsibility to educate its own students. The states should not have to ask the Federal Government for permission or have permission granted to set state standards.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Arizona Department of Public Safety Data Information Hacked. Is Any Data Safe from Hackers?

Will your child's personal "educational" data be safe? Should FERPA laws be relaxed to allow invasive information on your family shared with federal agencies?

Arne Duncan promises this information will be safeguarded.

Read what happened in Arizona to Department of Public Safety employees' data:

Computer experts are trying to determine how an international group of hackers broke into the Arizona Department of Public Safety's computers on Thursday and downloaded and released hundreds of law-enforcement files.

The DPS files, posted on LulzSec's website, include personal information about officers and numerous documents ranging from routine alerts from out-of-state police agencies to videos and photos about the hazards of police work and operations of drug gangs. The names of the files are as innocuous as "resume" and "evaluation form" and as provocative as "cartel leader threatens deadly force on U.S. police."

In its Web posting, the group said the files were primarily related to U.S. Border Patrol and counterterrorism operations.

The hackers vowed to release more classified documents each week as a way to embarrass authorities and sabotage their work.

Harrison said the release of officers' personal information is alarming. This information included the names of eight officers, their spouses' names, cellphone numbers and addresses.

"When you put out personal information, you don't know what kind of people will respond," Harrison said, noting that another officer was attacked at his home Thursday morning in an unrelated incident. (emphasis added)

With all due respect, Arne Duncan promises the system will be safeguarded, but this incident illustrates the fallacy that any personal data is totally safeguarded from possible malevolent hacking.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rockwood School District Parents Need to Know How Their Tax Dollars are Being Spent

Here is an editorial by Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post Dispatch about $250,000 being spent on "education" in the Rockwood School District, located in the metro St. Louis area. This "education" expenditure is to pay consultants a rather large sum of money and some additional expense from the district to these consultants in creating two-fulltime jobs for them:

Elizabethe Holland of the Post-Dispatch wrote a devastating story in Sunday's newspaper. She explained how you hired two former colleagues from the Minnesota district at which you used to work. First, you hired them as consultants. They each made $30,600 for 17 days of consulting while holding down full-time jobs in Minnesota. As consultants, they concluded that what the Rockwood district really needed was two more highly-paid administrators — themselves.

Although the district is facing financial problems, you hired them. They start next month. One will make $138,000 as associate superintendent of learning. He was making $97,200 in Minnesota. The other will make $125,000 as executive director of learning and support services. She was making $79,958 in Minnesota.

How can the $250,000 for this expenditure happen when it was not allotted? Welcome to the method of governmental groups obtaining what they want via the back door:

Rockwood's relationship with the two came about thanks to a $250,000 fund the School Board quietly allocated to (Superintendent) Borchers in September to pay for consultants and other needs while transitioning into his new role as a first-time superintendent.The money was approved at a meeting without discussion.


The board voted Sept. 2 to take the $250,000 from the district's operating fund "for superintendent contingency items," according to district records. But the $250,000 wasn't noted on the board's main meeting agenda. Rather, the topic was listed as a "consent agenda item" in another board document and voted on as a 2011 "budget adjustment."

Consent agenda items typically involve noncontroversial board business that requires no discussion before passage. If a board member wants to discuss an item, it can be pulled from the consent agenda and discussed at a board meeting.

The $250,000 allotment was not pulled from the consent agenda and was approved without discussion, district spokeswoman Kim Cranston said.

Rockwood does not have a dollar limit on items that can be approved by consent agenda, she said.

Do Rockwood taxpayers believe this is a transparent method in spending taxpayer dollars? Is this an expense the district can afford in the current economic climate? Read on:

In December 2010, about three months after setting aside the $250,000 for Borchers' use, the district announced it would have to cut $5.3 million to balance its 2011-12 budget, partly through staff reductions and salary freezes for administrators and support staff.

Six middle school teachers, 10 counselors, four drivers education teachers and three parking attendants at high schools lost their jobs. Rockwood also decided it would increase kindergarten tuition, high school parking fees and admission to sporting events to raise revenue.

The district's financial woes remain far from over. This coming fiscal year, Rockwood expects a deficit of $6 million to $16 million, according to Cranston.

Rockwood taxpayers might want to start asking more questions at school board meetings and examining the method of the way of doing business with this Board. Fiscal responsibility is paramount in our current economic times. If Rockwood parents are concerned about the way their tax dollars are being spent, it is time to get a game plan to watch expenses more closely. (See below for the next Board meeting schedule.) Your superintendent believes he is making the correct decisions and makes no excuses for spending money the district it doesn't have for jobs created in a questionable manner:

Borchers said he had heard few concerns about the money he was given for consultants.

"Let's just say we spent $180,000," he said, defending its use. "You could equate that to three teachers."

But, he said, using that money instead to hire Smasal, Dubois and Solution Tree could "help create this conceptual framework for continuous improvement that affects 22,000 students, 1,600 teachers and other support staff."

"That's the hat I have to wear," he said of his decision. "But what I'm charged with is making that strategic plan come to life and to achieve it. And I believe what we're doing with those dollars was spent ... professionally on things that will lead us to increased student achievement."

How much is that increased student achievement going to cost the district? That would be a good question to ask the superintendent. You need to know your expenses in your own life, you might want to hold your superintendent to the same method of balancing school budgets and not spending money the district it doesn't have.

From a commenter:

The next BOE meeting is NOT on July 14 – It's THIS Saturday, June 25 at 8:00am at the Rockwood School District Administrative Center, 111 East North Street, Eureka. This is a Board of Governance Meeting , open to the public. There is a 5 minute closed session that will reconvene at 8:10am to an open session.
Agenda items include the Board’s Role in Superintendent’s Evaluation, the Board’s Role in CSIP Development and Oversight, and the Board’s Role in Budget Development and Oversight. The full agenda can be seen at:

I urge all concerned taxpayers and parents in the Rockwood District to attend this meeting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Education on What Facebook Can Do With Your Information, and What You Can Do To Minimize the Sharing of Your Data

There is now a company that archives all Facebook posts where employers can check Facebook postings and information for up to seven years:

If you’re still not using any of the privacy settings on Facebook, here’s the most compelling reason why you need to change that as soon as possible.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has given the thumbs up to Social Intelligence Corp, which keeps files of Facebook users’ posts as part of a background-checking service for screening job applicants.

The FTC decided Social Intelligence complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the same set of rules that keeps your bill-payment records on file with the consumer bureaus for seven years, according to Forbes.

That’s how long your social media postings remain in Social Intelligence’s records. Even if you delete an embarrassing photo or bawdy status update, the material could stay in your file for seven years, during which time it might be used against you if a prospective employer were to use the agency’s services to screen applicants.

This ups the ante on prospective employers simply Googling you or even looking for you on Facebook and other sites — by now, many job hunters know enough to clean up their profiles when looking for work. Social Intelligence would have the goods on you before you cleaned up your online act, dating back seven years.

We can only suspect that if Social Intelligence has the go-ahead to operate in this capacity, other start-ups might follow. That’s all the more reason to err on the safe side and use Facebook’s privacy settings to their fullest.

Readers, does learning about services like Social Intelligence make you want to recheck your security settings or start using them if you haven’t done so already?

It is a good idea to check out those privacy and security settings links. They will give you specific directions on how to make Facebook information available only to those you want to allow.

This got me to thinking. Do you think it would be possible for the Department of Education to possibly sell personally identifiable information to companies to fill in budget deficits? Apparently personal information is quite valuable these days.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Arne Duncan's Complicity with the "Global Cabal"

This article features a video of Bill Gates speaking at a Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference about controlling the population via vaccines and health care:

If we do a really great job on new vaccines, healthcare, reproductive health services, we could lower [the population] by perhaps 10 or 15 percent. -- Bill Gates

Gates was part of a club of philanthropists who give away money to support the causes they believe in and this includes education:

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said the summit was unprecedented. “We only learnt about it afterwards, by accident. Normally these people are happy to talk good causes, but this is different – maybe because they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal,” he said.

Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

This could result in a challenge to some Third World politicians who believe contraception and female education weaken traditional values.

Does it make more sense now why the Department of Education is promoting:
The need to obtain information from the masses about the masses is crucial to this group's intent. Personal information is needed from the people to determine where the population needs to be managed and what better conduit is there than the public education system and deem it mandatory?

This blog's title is correct except it needs the insertion of the word "Education":

Bill Gates says technology holds the key to energy, climate. What do you think?

The Education piece is crucial in the global plan:
  • You need the common core standards to teach what these philanthropists want you to learn (the private organizations crafting the public standards, National Governor Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) receive much of their funding from Gates)
  • The expansion of the Longitudinal Data System is necessary to share information (which will benefit computer and software companies and is being pushed by Gates).
If the Common Core standards are not allowed to be implemented, the data from the Longitudinal Data Systems would not be required to be shared to different states and agencies. It is critical to obtain this information and Arne Duncan is well aware of the need for this data. It is no wonder why the revision of the FERPA standards is so important for this plan of the global cabal to succeed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sex Surveys and Other Invasive Information Compiled on Students

Open Missouri is a project of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia that aims to make state and local government data more available to citizens and journalists. Its goal is to:
  • Inform Missourians about public data held by government agencies
  • Inspire journalists, citizens, web developers, entrepreneurs, businesses and non-profits to access and use public data in ways that enhance their civic, professional and personal lives.
  • Serve as a platform that connects people who are using data from state and local government agencies.
  • Educate Missourians about how they can access and use public data.
The openmissouri.org website has information about the educational data sets in Missouri and their functions. Two sets that may concern students and families are the the workforce investment act:

Category: Education, Human services and social programs, Jobs, employment and occupations
The Employment Training Section uses this database to track students and schools that participate in the workforce development training funded by the U.S. Department of Labor under the federal Workforce Investment Act. Data includes information about students' eligibility, tuition assistance and schools attended.

and the Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN):

Category: Education
Data in system is collected under federal law and is shared with the U.S. Department of Education. Data goes down to the school level and includes demographics, program participation, implementation, and outcomes. The data is used at all levels for planning and programs.

You can track the different areas of information being requested in the name of education and supplying the workforce. Even teachers will be tracked extensively through data systems under the Educational Surrogate data set:

Category: Education, Human services and social programs
Database in development. When finished, it will contain detailed information about educational surrogates and the students whom they serve. Student data to include name, birthday, school attending and residence. Educational Surrogate data to include name, contact information, special experience, training, approval date, performance evaluations, status, special skills related to knowledge of students with disabilities.

The data set labeled Highly Qualified Educators relates to teachers as well, signifying a hallmark goal in Race to the Top:

Category: Education, Laws and regulations Database in development.
Lists details about teachers who are deemed to be highly qualified teacher under state guidelines. Highly qualified teachers must have full state teaching certification, at least a bachelor's degree and demonstrated subject-matter competency in each of the teacher's academic subjects.

What DESE doesn't list is the specificity of the information the government wants to be able to get from your child in the name of "education" and share with other agencies:

  • 1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent;
  • 2. Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
  • 3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
  • 4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior;
  • 5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
  • 6. Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
  • 7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or
  • 8. Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
This information is to be guarded by privacy laws and no identifying information is to be stored. I am certain this makes parents feel better about this invasive information in the interest of education, right? The invasive information request is not just for collecting data set information, as the vast majority of states participate in surveys for the Center for Disease Control (see above map).

Massachusetts received national attention after being called out by a parent for giving students a Youth Behavior Survey:

It includes questions about tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that might lead to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, dietary behaviors, physical activity, and behaviors associated with intentional or unintentional injuries.

Principal Fran Thomas told Fox News Radio that students were indeed given the survey – and admits it was graphic. But Thomas said the school has nothing to do with the content and they were required to administer the survey to fulfill a grant requirement.

“I can take no responsibility for what’s on that survey,” Thomas said. “It’s not generated by the school system.”

Thomas said the survey was funded by a federal grant and administered by LUK Inc., a local social services agency -- in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control.

A spokesperson for the CDC denied any involvement in the Fitchburg sex survey. The CDC said only seven states and six urban districts include sexual identity questions on their YRBS surveys – and the questions are optional.

But Principal Thomas disputed that notion.

“It was not optional,” he said. “It’s part of a grant that they applied for and the district said you have to administer this survey.”

(You can find a sample questionnaire here from 2011 given to high schoolers; the sexual activity questions are included in this sample which is labeled a "standard sample". Other questions asked include use of violence, thoughts of suicide, bullying, and eating habits.)

Is the compiling of this information furthering the education of your child? Will it equip them with the skills necessary to be "STEM" (Science, Technology, Education, Math) ready? Will it vault them into the global competitive system?

Should DESE and other state educational systems be required to inform parents and taxpayers what questions are asked of their children and for what purpose? Is it time for states to say "no" to federal grants that demand invasive personal information?

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