Imporant Federal Education Bills to Discuss with Members of Congress

May 25, 2015

Here are brief descriptions of three great and important federal education bills that increase parental rights, state sovereignty, and local control.  Then are three bills that dramatically increase federal control and destroy education data privacy as well as our children's freedom of conscience and the rights to be secure in their thoughts and attitudes without federally funded psychological profiling.  Please review this information and ask your members of Congress by phone  (www.house.gov/representatives and SENATORS RUBIO (202-224- 3041) AND NELSON (202-224-5274) to support the first three and oppose the second three:

BILLS TO SUPPORT AND PROMOTE
:
1) Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA) - S 1341:

The text of this great bill sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is available HERE.
This legislation provides important protections in the following areas:
  • Rolling back the disastrous extra-congressional regulatory changes that vastly expanded access of third parties to our children's personally identifiable data, now limiting that access and requiring parental consent in all cases
  • Holding educational agencies, schools, and third parties liable for violations of the law through monetary fines, damages, and court costs
  • Prohibiting psychological or attitudinal profiling of students or gathering of sensitive family information via any assessments, including academic assessments or survey.
  • Extending data protections for homeschooled students required to submit educational data to public school districts
  • Prohibiting educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Banning Federal education funds to states or districts that film, record, or monitor students or teachers in the classroom or remotely without parent or adult student and teacher consent.
Eight national and twenty-six groups from twenty-one different states have initially signed on in support and that list is likely to grow as more hear about this excellent bill.  It needs to have many co-sponsors in the Senate and a sponsor and many co-authors in the House.

2) Local Education Authority Returns Now (LEARN) Act - HR 121
HR 121, is sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ).  It is the best alternative to the terrible No Child Left Behind reauthorizations (see below)that we have seen.  Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute wrote the following about it:
Short of outright eliminating the federal schooling leviathan, there is one proposal worth looking at: the Local Education Authority Returns Now Act (LEARN) from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), which would let states declare they'll run their own education systems, then let state taxpayers keep the money Washington would have used to "help" them in education. It would sever the cord Washington has around states to make them do its bidding--tax dollars their citizens had no choice about paying--and reward their taxpayers directly.
 
What about the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (APLUS), which is a Heritage Foundation-backed piece of legislation? It is better than the status quo or main House GOP bill, but it contains two major, unacceptable provisions:
  1. A requirement that the U.S. secretary of education approve state requests to control consolidated funding.
  2. A continued requirement that each state have a single set of standards, tests, and "proficiency" goals. 
Essentially, it's the same basic shell as No Child Left Behind, only with more state autonomy over spending. That's not good enough.
Please ask your US House members to co-sponsor this bill and  to ask them to sponsor this bill in the Senate!

3) The Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act S 1025 
This bill is sponsored by Senator John Tester (D-MT).  It returns to the much more reasonable testing schedule before NCLB, requiring statewide assessments once each during grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12.  While we would like to see the federal testing mandates removed altogether, this is a reasonable interim step.  Please ask your congressional representatives to support this bill at the same time you ask them to support the Vitter privacy bill (S 1341) and the LEARN Act (HR 121).
 
BILLS TO OPPOSE: 
  1. The Every Child Achieves  Act (ECAA) S 1177:
Although not surprising, the bad news is that this Senate ESEA/NCLB reauthorization is even more big government than the House version, HR 5.  Please read this excellent analysis by Erin Tuttle of Hoosiers Against Common Core.  She discusses that while prohibiting the requirement of standards like Common Core, the bill requires approval by the Secretary of the state plan, which still requires statewide standards and testing, and that those state plans for standards and tests must align to three major federal programs and areas of control: 1) higher education 2) career and technical (School to Work) and 3) early childhood/child care. All of these areas include and align to Common Core, so there is really no improvement or protection!  In addition, there is a major expansion of federal mental screening of children.  More information to come! A Senate vote is expected in June.
 
  1. The Student Success Act HR 5:
We and others have extensively chronicled the numerous problems with this House ESEA/NCLB reauthorization attempt.   

Here are some of the many concerns:
  • Continues the federal mandate that standards "include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state"
  • Continues the annual testing requirement
  • Portability provision risks inserting federal and Common Core control in private schools
  • This bill does nothing to deal with psychological manipulation, profiling, and data collection rampant in Common Core and numerous other federal education programs
  • The data protection statutes and those involved with student surveys are not yet updated
  • There is potentially dangerous federal involvement in the parental relationship with school
  • Students and families need protection against coercion to be labeled and placed on psychotropic medication
 
Thanks so you, HR 5 is remaining so controversial it continues to be off the House floor calendar! Congressman Curt Clawson (FL-19) reiterated his opposition to HR 5 on Drew Steele's radio show to Dr. Effrem (17:10). Thank you Congressman Clawson!
 
  1. Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) S 227
In our brief discussion, as well as our more extensive research paper, we analyze the four major problems of this bill, a reauthorization of the federal major data profiling bill of 2002.  The greatest problem is the enhanced effort to do psychological profiling of our children:
Section 132 of the bill (page 28, line 16-21) inserts the following:
''and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively...'' (Emphasis added).
The US Department of Education (USED) is already a flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment.  The amount of data collected on individual children, families, and teachers via USED through this law and the weakening and loopholes of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) that provided individual data to the federal government is appalling and a complete violation of the Fourth Amendment as well.  To then give the federal government the right to research the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of free American citizens, especially innocent children, is completely unacceptable and without justification. 

Three other major problems with SETRA include:
  • SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
  •  The bill continues to rely on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA to protect student privacy.
  • SETRA continues the large loophole that renders PPRA ineffective in protecting student privacy.

Posted in Federal Education. Tagged as Every Child Achieves Act, HR 121; Rep. Scott Garrett; S. 1025;, HR 5, S 1177, S 1341; Senator David Vitter; LEARN Act, S 227, Senator John Tester, SETRA, Student Privacy Protection Act, Student Success Act.

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