Tomorrow the Louisiana House Education Committee is poised to hear testimony on several bills related to protecting the rights of parents and students in regards to privacy. (I plan to stop by around lunchtime to meet with folks and compare notes, msg me if you want to try to meet up. . .) From what I have been hearing there are forces and plans already set in motion to confound any attempts at producing meaningful legislation. I’ve learned that LDOE will be calling in supporters of Big Data to scare legislators with the implications of scaling back our data collections. This is strategy that has been working well in other States and of course this should be entirely expected.

The Louisiana Department of Education needs your children’s data to justify its existence.

They need your data to have something to sell to inBloom and Big Data aggregators and merchants like them.

They need your data to produce their SPS scores which enable them to take over your local schools and turn them into shadowy RSD and charter schools that operate beyond any meaningful oversight.

They need your detailed data to calculate their VAM scores to make a case for firing experienced teachers. LDOE needs your data to make it easy for Course Choice providers to peddle their pseudo-educational wares to our children and stick us tax-payers with the bill.

LDOE needs data to identify students that are eligible for their “voucher” program which they refuse to allow anyone to impartially examine (even the US Department of Justice in relation to numerous consent decrees across the state.)

LDOE needs your data to make a case that they are successful, needed and relevant. They need your data to ensure you are implementing the Federal Common Core Curriculum to their liking.

They need your data, but you don’t need them.

You don’t need to buy what they’re selling.

You don’t need what they’ve become.

The politicians and LDOE think they have you over a barrel here. They plan to let you have your day at the Capital, to have your grievances heard. They plan to pretend to listen patiently, and then many of them will pat you on the head and send you home believing you accomplished something. But the fix is already in. Your bills will either get tied up to where nothing emerges, or killed in the Education Committee, or the Senate will tie it up, kill it, or refuse to bring it to the floor. If all else fails Jindal will veto it and like every other veto Jindal has issued, the legislature won’t get called back into session and the veto will stand. The worst case scenario I see happening is something labeled a “privacy” bill will get passed, perhaps Senator Appel’s, but it will do exactly the opposite. Just as was done with our ethics laws, which have turned our state into a laughingstock, we might become the fodder for late night television with our newfangled “privacy”.

Yo Eve, do you think we need more leaves or a belt or something?  I’m thinking snakeskin.

Now of course I could be wrong and everything will work out hunky dory. That would be awesome! I hope I’m wrong, because if I am, then I won, but let’s assume for the moment I am correct in my analysis and what I have foretold comes to pass. That does not mean they have won, merely that our victory will need to take another shape, will take a little longer, and perhaps take a little more work.

Now to go ultra-tangential on you: As the recent Russian invasion of the Crimean Peninsula by Putin shows, it’s a lot easier to negotiate from a position of strength. While of course I don’t endorse his aggression , his move does illustrate a crucial strategic and philosophic point – ownership is nine/tenths the law or something like that. We own our children’s data, and it does not get to schools or the state without our permission or release of it. I will get back to this in a bit.

Now that the Ukraine bases in Crimea are surrounded by Russian forces, the harbor has been blockaded with sunken ships so their fleet can’t sail out, and the Crimean’s have voted for Independence, the Ukrainians have few attractive options left. The Russians have systematically applied pressure and used their superior numbers and position to win a conflict without ever firing a shot. I think Sun Tzu, a military philosopher who posited one should never wage a war that they had not already won, would be impressed.

If we hope to achieve victory here, we can’t rely on the good graces of our opponents. To gratuitously use even more cliché’s than I have already, we can’t put all our eggs in one basket on this one. We need to apply pressure to this situation to ensure we achieve the outcome we want, and we need the opponents of privacy and parents to see our moves and know we mean business.

We will need to make it clear to the opponents of privacy and public education that we are watching them, and we will exact a political price on them at the polls. The NRA posts a list of friendly legislators (snd not so friendly) to their causes, as do many other liberal and conservative groups for various causes. We will need to start making a list, and posting it, of friends and enemies of students and parents and public education. This will become another pressure point.

For another we need to offer a credible (non-violent) threat of civil disobedience. I have watched many groups create Common Core pull-out days, and test opt-out movements, but has anyone considered a data opt-out or data corruption movement?

How would one do this might you ask?

For starters SSN’s are not required in Louisiana for enrollment. According to federal law they cannot be required. LDOE knows this, but likes to keep this information secret and hidden. I have already asked my district to replace my children’s SSN’s with State Temporary IDs. For those of you not wishing for the state to have your child’s SSN you can contact your school or SIS coordinator in your school district and ask that they replace your SSN’s with temp IDs. I’ve covered this detail a number of times in a number of posts. . .

. . .but I still think a lot of people are skeptical or haven’t seen that advice. Feel free to contact LDOE and ask them if you don’t believe me.

Contact Us

Email Us: Ask LDOE

Call Us: 877-453-2721 (toll-free)

Another fun thing to do will be to update your records with your “correct” information. A lot of reports and stats are broken down by race/ethnicity. For some reason LDOE thinks most citizens of Louisiana are either Black or White. Numerous state and federal reports based on “subgroups” are dependent upon that information being correct. Whatever a parent puts down for Race and or Ethnicity cannot be questioned by school or district staff. If, as a result of some recent genealogy research you may or may not have done, you tracked one of each ethnicity in your background, you can report belonging to every ethnicity. You might suddenly realize, perhaps from a peyote fueled vision, that your roots are all of one of the least reported groups like American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander or Eskimo. Maybe you registered your child with the wrong info initially? It happens.

Except for enrollment in pre-k or Kindergarten, does date of birth have to be all that accurate or consistent from year to year? That’s an important piece of info for an identity thief. . . Should we really be trusting an accurate DOB with folks who have such little regard for our children’s credit ratings and futures that they would choose to share SSN’s for millions of Louisiana citizens when an alternative ID was already available and was created for the express purpose of never sharing SSNs?

We used to have Esperanto, Volapuk and a number of other made up or university created languages as a possible Language codes that could be selected for a student’s primary language. I had our school districts do a clean-up on those codes a while back. A number of kids/parents picked those languages, perhaps just for kicks. There are still quite a number of very interesting a rare languages available to choose from. . .

Some of you may remember when the musician, Prince, had his name legally changed to:

I once had a student/parent submit their name as the letter X.

How much fun could we have with this?

I think I found new names for my children.

What these folks who have been so brazenly careless about sharing our data need to understand is, besides the fact that they work for us, is that we control some of the most important pieces of data. If our legislators, LDOE and governor are not willing to protect our data better than they have been. . . well we can easily take matters into our own hands (or claws.)

If you guys think I’m bluffing, just try me. I put that “crazy” in my name for a reason.

I kinda hope the legislature does the wrong thing just so I can see how far we can take this. . .

And that, my friends, is how you pull a Putin.

11 thoughts on “Privacy Legislation: How to protect your children and negotiate from a position of strength (Data opt-out)

  1. Well, actually all the data is bogus anyway, so let’s just do as they do and make s*** up! I absolutely love it!

    1. Exactly. Then when we take back control of BESE we can just boot out the bad policies without worrying about them trying to stop us with their manufactured reports and studies.

  2. shoot, when I was a kid in Calcasieu Parish Schools ( way back then) I knew that taking the simple Iowa Skills test wasn’t about ME, I gave them bogus data by coloring in the little circles and never , ever reading the questions, finished that bogus test in record time; made the teachers’ crazy! But the couldn’t do a think about it. Did the same thing with the ACT. Tell the kids to do the same thing; tell the kids it is all bogus and fake out the system!

  3. My 8th grade daughter’s class was selected to take the PARCC field test next week. An email from the parish Superintendent states: “The purpose of the field test is for students to try out question types and how the technology platform works before taking the full test in spring 2015. PARCC will not generate scores for individual students or classes.”…. I am concerned, what would you do?

  4. lacitizen – this worked for me:

    Dear Mr. Bundy and Mr. Folse,

    I am writing to inform you that I do not give my permission for my daughter Rachael to be experimented on by exposing her to the Pilot PARCC test that I understand will be imposed on a few students at Mandeville High. Thank you for respecting my right as a parent to opt my daughter out of this experimental test that includes data collecting/sharing. Parents and teachers should be made aware that there is legislation pending to remove PARCC testing in Louisiana.

    Thank You,
    Debbie Sachs

    States pulling out of PARCC (this report dated Oct 29, 2013 – more since then) no longer capable of nationwide comparisons:

    Will these new tests live up to their billing? It is hard to say, but recent fractures in the coalitions developing the tests portend problems. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania have decided to not use PARCC’s assessments, and Florida and Kentucky have not committed to field test the assessments in the upcoming school year. If states drop out of the consortia to develop their own tests, the 50-states, 50-systems problem the Common Core was designed to solve will remain.

    Costs very high:

    There are also more prosaic issues, the most pressing of which is cost. PARCC’s price of $29 per student for its assessments is more than the assessment costs of half of the states participating in the consortium. SBAC’s $22.50 per student was more than the costs of a third of the states of its consortium (Gewertz, 2013b). Critics were quick to point out that those prices didn’t include the additional costs of computer-based assessments like upgrades in hardware, software, and Internet bandwidth. So far, there are no reliable nationwide estimates for the cost of these upgrades, but 46% of the more than 500 school administrators surveyed last summer said their districts are delaying technology purchases due to budget cuts driven by the sequester (Ellerson, 2013).

    Alignment to instruction and resource materials/textbooks not accomplished:

    In order to align instruction to the new standards, a raft of new materials for students and teachers are being developed. How schools integrate these new materials will play an outsized role in determining the ultimate success or failure of the Common Core. If the experience of Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education John White is any indication, there will be problems. His department initially rejected every math and reading textbook that it reviewed because they were not sufficiently aligned to the Common Core (Sawchuk, 2012). If teachers can’t find good materials, they can’t teach to the standards effectively.

    As it turns out, pretty much anyone can slap a Common Core-aligned sticker onto a textbook, professional development module, or supplemental resource. States, districts, and schools will have the daunting task of wading through all of these. Without some meaningful vetting process, all of the benefits of the nationwide market for new tools will be washed away in the flood of misaligned materials.

    Instructional alignment is important because if teachers aren’t teaching what is going to be on the test, then when poor test results come back we can’t tell if (a) students were taught what they needed to know but didn’t learn it or (b) students weren’t taught what they needed to know. Each scenario requires a vastly different response. As new materials are rolled out, we might need several years to know if an expected dip in proficiency scores is due to harder tests or textbooks and materials that don’t cover Common Core material adequately, or something different altogether, like students simply adapting to new question structures.

    Professional development/teacher preparedness not sufficient: (You can get some glaring testimony from teachers to evidence this based on experience and proof, not opinions)

    There are real questions about whether states have the capacity to deliver the high-quality professional development necessary to align instruction to the Common Core. The Center on Education Policy’s survey of state education officials in 2013 found 37 states reporting challenges in implementing quality professional development and 31 states reporting challenges in providing all math and English languages arts teachers with state-sponsored professional development at all.

    PARCC tests will produce a highly manufactured failure rate. Although false, this will damage our students, teachers, schools and opportunity for our state to attract business investment:

    Part of the Common Core’s theory of action is that the resulting scores on new college and career-standard exams will serve as what the authors of Pathways to the Common Core call “a crucial wake-up call” (Calkins, Ehrenworth, & Lehman, 2012, p. 9). Advocates expect the results to mobilize suburban and middle-class parents to the cause of education reform. But folks may also view the results far more skeptically, saying “I’d rather trust my ‘lying eyes’ than what any standardized tests tell me.”

    The hope that lower performance will shock parents and voters awake flies in the face of what happened when students and schools fared poorly on standardized exams in the past. NCLB is a poster child for this. When more and more schools were deemed to be failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress, particularly schools that many believed were doing well, support for NCLB evaporated. Gallup polling showed modest popularity for NCLB in its early years, with 31% of Americans viewing it favorably in 2006 (Hess, 2006). As scores dropped, so did the support. By 2011, only 16% of Americans believed NCLB made the American education system better rather than worse (Saad, 2012). Gene Wilhoit, then executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, characterized NCLB at the time as “a system that was well intended” but that had led to “a result that is causing the law to lose its credibility (McNeil, 2011).

    NCLB had credibility when it said the schools that parents and voters thought were failing were deemed failing. It lost credibility when it started to identify as failing the schools that parents and voters thought were doing well. It’s hard to imagine why the Common Core would be any different. Is “proficiency” vs. “college and career readiness” a powerful enough distinction to help suburban parents deal with the sting of learning that their school (for which they may have paid a premium when buying their home) has pass rates in the 30s and 40s? If it’s not, the Common Core risks undermining confidence in accountability policy that took decades to build.

    Common Core Standardized tests are a proven failure and indicate that Common CoreStandards are a failure:

    The second year of exams in Kentucky brought mixed results. Forty-four percent of elementary students were proficient in math in 2013, improving from 40 percent in 2012. That’s compared to 73 percent proficiency in 2011, before the state began giving the Common Core-based assessments.
    High school students, though, saw a decline on math scores in the second year of the new exams. Thirty-six percent passed math in 2013, compared to 40 percent in 2012. On previous exams, 46 percent of students were proficient.
    The dial for middle-school math scores didn’t move between 2012 and 2013; 41 percent of students were proficient in both years. Before the Common Core tests, 65 percent of students were proficient.
    Similarly, in reading, all three age groups saw significant declines in the first year of the new exams, and results in the second year were flat or increased by a few points.
    In New York, just 31 percent of third through eighth graders scored proficient or higher on new, Common Core-aligned language arts and math exams, which were administered in April. That’s down from 2012, when 55 percent were proficient in language arts and 65 percent were proficient in math.
    New York’s five largest cities reported lower scores on the new exams than the statewide average, and minorities, students with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English fared even worse.
    New York and Kentucky’s exams are different, as are the processes used to determine proficiency, but they are both based on the Common Core, a set of standards that has been adopted by nearly every state. (Again, false comparisons)

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