"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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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What the Missouri Department of Revenue and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Have in Common

The Missouri Department of Revenue copied and sent private information on Concealed Carry permit holders to Homeland Security without the knowledge of the permit holder,  despite the fact this was against state law.  Does this sound a bit like the collection of 61 data points our educational state agency is gathering on students?   Commissioner Chris Nicastro informed the legislators about the data gathering by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in HB616 testimony but she did not offer:
  • what 61 data points are being gathered
  • why they are gathered
  • which organization/agency mandated this data mining
  • where the data is being sent
  • what the data is being used for
Did your school alert you to this data mining?  Did you give permission for your student/family data to be disseminated to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia?  Did you know student/family/ teacher/principal data is then sent to the Federal Government by the consortia?

This was accomplished within the last two years via the Governor and Commissioner signing onto a Memorandum of Understanding with the consortia in May 2010.  In July 2011, the consortia signed a MOU with the Department of Education to send it personally identifiable student data.  The US Department of Education then can send this information to any other federal agency and third party it deems appropriate.  Did you know any of this?

Maybe the legislators can ask DESE why the student data sharing information and practice was never shared with the legislators until House testimony in HB616. The legislators might just want to start this investigation sooner than later as DESE seems to have done some creative budget work with funds earmarked for other purposes which has caused concern in the Capitol.  This lack of transparency or operating outside legal boundaries appears to be a systemic problem in Missouri (think of the Mamtek debacle last year and the subsequent Department of Economic Development director's resignation) with state agencies and needs to be addressed by the Legislature.  From Department of Revenue bows to Schmitt’s deadline to submit to rule-making process:

“The rulemaking process contains important safeguards for the public. Citizens have a right to comment on rules that will seriously affect them. The department ignored that right,” Schmitt said. “Equally disturbing is that the General Assembly was completely kept in the dark, preventing us from vetting this new policy, a critical part of representing the people’s interests.”

Last month, a Stoddard County resident filed a lawsuit against DOR alleging the department had scanned and collected the citizen’s private information as part of a new policy for renewing or receiving a driver’s license or concealed carry permit.
In response, the Senate launched an investigation into the accusations. Recent developments have shown the Department did not follow the rule-making process in implementing the new policy, a potential violation of state law.

“In recent weeks, we’ve seen a troubling trend of state departments willfully circumventing the law and purposefully deceiving the public and the General Assembly,” Schmitt said. “The Department of Education and Secondary Education has taken it upon itself to decide the distribution of the education formula funds, DOR implemented a policy in direct violation of state law, and now we discovered that the Highway Patrol has twice now given a list of nearly all concealed carry permit holders in Missouri to the federal government, also in violation of Missouri law. This cannot continue.”

Schmitt said he fears the trust of Missourians in their state government is on the line.
“This could fundamentally change how people view our state agencies,” he added. “It is critical we move quickly to address this issue and ensure our departments follow the laws set by the people’s elected officials.

 What do all these agencies have in common?  Mismanagement, lack of transparency, poor judgment...and the agency directors have all been appointed by the governor, Jay Nixon.  Nixon started the ball rolling for a monumental poor educational decision when he signed on to the first MOU with the National Governors Association agreeing to use Common Core standards/assessments (before they were even written) in June 2009 which gave away Missouri's right to direct/develop educational direction.

Should Jay Nixon be investigated for educational malfeasance?


  1. Everybody I've ever dealt with in any level of government considers private citizens to be nothing more than serfs.

  2. Not only yes, but criminal is the term to be used here. The release of CCW data is in violation of the law. And, to sign away Missouri citizens rights, responsibilities/duties, to educate their children is beyond the scope of any one persons granted powers by those who elected him. Common Core is an issue that should be left up to educators and parents, not politicians. This state should not be looking at federal money as reason to op-in to a program, let us not be indebted to those


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