Victoria Bear, a citizen of Florida, sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott about her concerns with implementing Common Core in the sunshine state. Bear got a reply from the Governor’s office. She decided to reply back and her letter has gone viral, being shared by parents, teachers, educators and citizens across the state and beyond.
One of the comments to Bear’s letter is from Jack Mertz from The Villages TEA Party. Mertz states, “You really need to take a Survey of how Florida voters feel about Common Core — not what Obama or Jeb Bush think. They cannot vote for you — or donate to your campaign –but We the People can (or not). The Tea Party groups in The Villages area would love to discuss Common Core with you — if you would deign to come for a visit. Recall, there is an ELECTION coming. You need to do something intelligent to convince us that we should vote for you. We will wait and see what your final decision is on Common Core. Then we’ll make your final decision also.”
As the 2014 election draws nearer the Common Core may become the defining issue in the campaign. Some say that Governor Scott risks losing if he does not take a stronger stand against implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Here is the reply from Katrina G. Figgett, Director of School Libraries and Information Services at Florida Department of Education, to Bear’s letter:
Dear Ms. Baer:
Governor Rick Scott has asked our office to respond to your correspondence regarding Common Core. On behalf of the governor, we would like to thank you for contacting us.
Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Education are committed to ensuring our students have the highest academic standards so they are prepared to succeed in college, career and beyond. The Florida State Board of Education first adopted state wide education standards called the Sunshine State Standards in 1996 and has been a leader in the United States for ensuring all students have access to education standards and assessments that match those standards. The current set of English language arts and mathematics standards are the third set adopted by Florida. Recently changes to these standards, which were recommended as a result of public input, were proposed to the State Board of Education. If you would like to look at the proposed changes they can be accessed at: http://www.fldoe.org/
eduaccsummit.asp. A recommendation regarding the tool for assessing Florida Standards will be forthcoming in March.
Decisions regarding curriculum are made at the district, school and classroom level, and we would encourage you to share your concerns regarding curriculum with your child’s classroom teacher and/or principal. You may wish to contact individual districts with specific suggestions concerning their curriculum. District contact information is available at http://www.fldoe.org/schools/
It may help you to know that under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student information cannot be shared without prior written consent from parents or guardians. The only disclosure exceptions pertain to sharing information in regard to health and safety emergencies, school transfers, state and local authorities for compliance, or research organizations. Directory information, such as name, address, date of birth and dates of attendance, may be shared without consent. However, schools are required under FERPA to give reasonable notice to parents prior to any information sharing and allow parents or guardians to opt out of the information sharing. Schools are required to annually notify parents of their rights under FERPA, but notification methods are left up to local leaders. There is no national database that houses student information and there is no plan for such a database.
Here is Bear’s reply to Katrina Figgett:
Ms. Figgett in lieu of GOV SCOTT:
First, thanks for writing back and taking time to send me a response. Since you bothered, I would like to set the record straight.
I am very well informed on Common Core and the devastating effects it will have on our children. Unlike Gov Scott I am not playing politics or playing with our children’s futures.
#1 It’s not about the sharing it’s about the collecting -NO right to collect (see constitution amendment #4 unless a student wants to volunteer to give it with parental consent)- I’m sure their data bases are as secure as Target and the Healthcare Website- Right?
The only way to assure no privacy compromise is for them to never have the data to start with! This will be the start of profiling of our children in a country that is very eerily looking like NAZI Germany more every day.
#2 No matter how much they amend the standards it doesn’t change that they are equal to curriculum because the standardized tests test the standards (content) not the student’s proficiency like former placement tests.
The standards being grade specific is a big problem because it completely restricts curriculum since different curriculum introduce concepts in a different order and the only curriculum that would be used are the ones aligned to the CCS (modified or whatever).
Other countries like Finland have standards that are used as guidelines but are not graded with standardized tests at grade level. They are the only international country in the top five that have consistently improved in the past couple of years.
China’s numbers are fraudulent (surprise) since they only report Shanghai (they don’t even hide that it’s Shanghai only-guess they know how little the average person pays to such detail).
# 3… You quote FERPA… Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Seriously? Guess you and the GOVERNOR are not up to speed on the changes and DISTRUCTION of FERPA. Please see below. NICE TRY…NOT GOING TO WORK!
1974 the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) became federal law. FERPA limited the authority of school officials to release personally identifiable information about any student, without student or parental consent.
On April 8, 2011 the US Department of Education initiated a proposal to amend the regulations interpreting FERPA. The proposed regulatory change was put out for Notice and Comment as required by the Administrative Practices Act. The Department of Education issued the final amended regulations on December 2, 2011 and they took effect on January 3, 2012.
The amended regulations provided a new definition for three key statutory terms. Under the new definitions, detailed information about students, along with individual student ID numbers or other unique personal identifiers, may be disclosed “nonconsensually,” by “an educational agency or institution” with very little constraint. The changes essentially gutted FERPA and removed just about every vestige of parental control over the use and release of personally identifiable information in school records.
Whether the Department of Education had the authority to make these changes will be decided by federal judges. In accord with administrative law jurisprudence, a regulation issued according to the process specified in the Administrative Practices Act has the force of law, although a regulation may be challenged in the courts. There is such a court challenge at present. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) claims that a comment they filed during the Notice and Comment period was completely ignored in the amended final regulation.
Shortly after December 2011 when the amended FERPA regulations were issued, the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) was activated. The SLC’s five member board of trustees included two corporation officers who were affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, one with the Carnegie Foundation, one with the Council of Chief State School Officers, and one was a former state governor affiliated with an educational advocacy organization . SLC was disbanded in November 2012 when the nonprofit organization, inBloom, was created. inBloom, which is supported by $100 million in grants from the Gates and Carnegie foundations, inherited all of the SLC’s software development.
The massive databases that inBloom intends to create are supposed to make it more efficient for school districts to store, access and process data for educational purposes. In theory, it would become possible to tailor instruction from stored data to meet individual student needs. Databases within a district are not always able to “talk” with each other; using a common platform and infrastructure in the Cloud would remedy that problem. If all the various school databases in the nation are also in communicable format in Clouds, it would be possible to examine and collate information on a national scale.
Those enamored of technology see a wonderful world opening up. Others fear that the age of Big Brother watching is coming all too close and that data would be used to monitor schools, teachers and children without notice. The FERPA changes will allow access to educational data for commercial or other purposes without the trouble of gaining parental or student consent. After all, the public is assured, we must facilitate digitalized education to modernize American school systems. (inBloom’s CEO, Iwan Streichenberger, somewhat disingenuously noted that their [computer] platform is compliant with the Family Education and Privacy Act and that their top priority is data privacy .)
The federal regulatory process is relatively silent. In the past, parents would not have known their legal rights had been diminished. Thanks to both the rapid spread of information and the impending court challenge to the amended FERPA regulation, parents across the country were soon informed that their state or education district intended to release individually identifiable data to third parties as part of an initial tryout of the inBloom project. The records are not only to be shared with consultants to help school districts adopt modern day information technology. They may also be available to private for-profit businesses able to target sales pitches to children’s teachers and parents and to school districts. This would bring to education the intense targeted marketing based on data collected from websites and by search engines.
Concerned parents who had been voiceless in the regulatory process, have begun to organize. They are learning that they cannot “opt out” of the arrangements and they want to assert their constitutional right to direct the education of their children. They oppose the invasion of privacy: the risk of disclosure of sensitive personal information such as test scores, health status and disciplinary records. They also are opposed to commercial exploitation of their children and their participation in research projects without parental consent.
When school officials in Brooklyn held a public meeting recently, parental fears were stoked. An inBloom representative confirmed that while inBloom would not share information with for-profit businesses to the detriment of students, the school district could decide to share the information stored in the Cloud with for-profit entities. Parents were distressed to learn that inBloom could not guarantee the security of information in the Cloud, and that in their contract with the City, inBloom was absolved of responsibility for any breach of security, including hacking.
During the meeting, one parent asked whether parents of a disabled child whose name was released to third parties, could be the target of aggressively marketed for-profit special education services. When the Chancellor of the New York City schools vowed that student privacy would not be violated, his reassurances were met with skepticism by parents whose level of trust in public school officials is not high.
While parents have had nowhere near the resources, the time, or the expertise to mount effective resistance to the efforts of the foundations and the organizations supported by them, that situation may be changing. Many states have pulled back from participating with inBloom. In New York State however, while two bills to protect parent rights to privacy were passed in the Assembly, a comparable bill in the NY Senate [S4284] was held up. Concerned parents intend to keep up the pressure. Given sufficient anger, and the internet’s ability to put people in touch quickly and inexpensively, parental resistance may become a democratic counterweight to the unbridled powers of big business and huge foundations to influence public educational policies without accountability.
Murray Levine and Adeline Levine, Buffalo – http://artvoice.com/issues/v12n29/letters_to_artvoice/goodbye_privacy.
There has been a victory though!!! Maybe you can encourage Scott to follow NY’s lead of all the COMMUNISTS states… Scott pushes the BUSH’s destructive programs for our education as “RACE TO THE BOTTOM” and “EVERY CHILD LEFT BEHIND”. Time to get off the political tit and do something for FREEDOM IN EDUCATION!
PS. You can also tell Gov Scott that as much as he campaigned for HEALTH CARE FREEDOM he has FAILED us on OBAMA CARE as well!
HE IS A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT TO CONSERVATIVES ALL OVER THE STATE and I SHOULD KNOW …I HAVE HUGE EMAIL LISTS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND THE UNITED KINGDOM and I’ve CC this to my whole FLORIDA list with over 3000 names!!!