School Common Core California opt-out debut held 11-6-13
By Debra Tash & George Miller
A forum on the new de facto national Common Core Standards and curriculum was held at Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park on November 6th, 2013, to explain WHY it’s desirable to “opt-out” of Common Core “data mining,” and HOW to do it. A previous debate in June at Thousand Oaks High School made it clear to many that although there might be some good aspects of Common Core, very serious drawbacks warranted stiff opposition. The opt-out event panelists were: Dr. Walt Chappell, President, Educational Management Consultants, which formulates creative strategies in K through 12th grade education; the second speaker was the keynote for the evening, Brad Dacus, Esq., President of the Pacific Justice Institute, which has over 500 affiliated attorneys volunteering statewide and many more nationwide. They defend religious liberties and parental rights. He has a radio show on KWVE, The Dacus Report at 10:30 am on Saturdays. The final speaker, Tony Dolz, organized the event. Mr. Dolz, a local businessman, founded Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley. He is running for a seat on the Conejo Valley School Board, http://www.dolz.com/. Lyn Fairly, host of The Lyn Fairly Show Saturdays on KTVA 1590, moderated the discussion.
Dr. Walt Chappell
Common Core is “a huge experiment, with kids as guinea pigs.”
Dr. Chappell started the discussion by refuting the need for switching to the federally funded Common Core curriculum: “Somehow this nation put a man on the moon…We have been teaching our kids for years English and math.” Why do we need to bring in federal standards into a system that has been working? He held a seat on the Kansas State Board of Education, an elected office. He said the staff in Washington DC and the staff in the states have made the decisions when it comes to switching to Common Core. State and local boards, that are accountable to the voters/parents, have been left out of the process. These boards were brought in to the process late to rubber stamp the new curriculum. Most states have not enacted legislative approval on what was described as “the most far-reaching changes in public education in decades.”
Chappell said that the name “Common Core State Standards” is deceptive, because it is definitely a federal program, enforced and incentivized by massive stimulus funding and that it encompasses both curriculum and methodology. He described it as “coercion, blackmail… intimidation.” It’s a major overreach by the federal government, which has no legitimate role in education. However, its involvement has been going on in one form or another for decades, including the Bush-driven “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) program. The Obama administration has also used waivers of NCLB to further entrench Common Core.
Dr. Chappell has seen the standards used to browbeat teachers, rating them poorly based on one test given at the end of the school year. Common Core is more than just standards– it’s directing not only WHAT a teacher imparts to his or her students, it’s also telling them HOW to teach. California, which has wholeheartedly embraced Common Core, had good standards of its own since 1977. The lure of Federal dollars has drawn many states (45) into the program. His own state of Kansas finally opted out in a 14-0 School Board vote. Proponents of Common Core have made many claims. Dr. Chappell provided the audience with copies of a fact sheet refuting many of those claims. You can see it HERE . Two business consortiums have profited by being the sole owners of Common Core along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Chappell also drew our attention to the “National Education Data Model” which contains what the government intends to mine:
Here’s one student data section:
Dr. Chappell further pointed out that the Common Core evaluation tests “are not validated, not reliable.”
Remarking on the iPAd tablet computer devices being issued to millions of children, he said this is great for Apple, but that every time a child uses one, the IP address identifies him/her and all data go to servers in New York. He advised refusing the devices and stated that it would be impossible to determine if parents’ opt-out wishes were even honored. He stated that the iPads have already become an issue in various places, such as Oxnard, CA.
Since 1974 The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as FERPA, has provided coverage to parents in regards to their children’s privacy. It protected students records, files, documents, and data. Common Core circumvents these protections. It is the framework to keep data on a child from preschool through age 20. The parents and guardians of local students in Ventura County were offered a way to reinstate these protections. Chappell warned that FERPA was weakened in December, 2011, to help facilitate Common Core.
He opined that the pendulum is swinging back and that he believed Common Core would collapse of its own weight, especially the data mining. He noted that NY, which is a year ahead of the nation in implementation, is experiencing a higher number of requests for student psychological counseling and higher number of teachers leaving. He advised parents not to accept the iPads for their children, to order that no data mining be done and no assessments be performed. He advised that parents whose kids DO have the Pads get logins and monitor what’s happening. Nothing was discussed about the feasibility of parents providing tablet computers under their own control. He noted that CA and 25 other states have already signed agreements to provide data. He mentioned that the Pearson (a Common Core owner) curriculum is incomplete and ambiguous.
Brad Dacus, Esq.
Brad Dacus spoke next letting the audience know, “We do all our work without charge.” He stated that, “Common Core… it’s a major game changer…Most radical change in decades.” The nefarious aspect of the program is, data mining our children. Dacus said, “The government…will gather information on your religion, your family.”
There are other outrageous examples of government intrusions in education, such as the two decades ago CLAS test, which attempted to gauge the psychological makeup of children – and send the results to Child Protective Services. This was subsequently eliminated.
“There is no limit to the potential problems with data mining.” “Do not be afraid- be educated and act accordingly.” – Brad Dacus
He said there is no downside to opting out, no legitimate loss of funding. This all has nothing to do with Title 1 funding, which is a whole separate issue. Parents rights have been researched and are clear. These have been incorporated into the opt-out strategy, which encompasses assessments as well as data mining.
Brad Dacus, Dr. Chappell and Tony Dolz worked together to develop a legally vetted opt-out form: California_Privacy_Protection_Opt_Out_Form_131210_1130 (1) (updated December, 2013) and accompanying strategy for parents and guardians. Dacus said unlike some other states, “There are many good codes,” that protect privacy in California. You can read some of them HERE . He also advised us to download his book “Reclaim Your School,” which has a Christian orientation.
The opt-out form relies on these codes. You can download the opt-out form at: http://www.concernedparentsofconejovalley.com/ . (To out of state readers: the strategy is optimized for California law and would require modification elsewhere).
Mr. Dacus said that filing the opt-out form claim removes the schools’ “qualified immunity,” because it constitutes putting them on notice of parents’ assertion of their rights. Actually, he said, CA law requires prior notice and written parental consent. He said that the opt-out form was designed to adhere as closely as possible to CA codes.
People were lined up on both sides of the room to ask questions and/or comment. Every single one was opposed to Common Core and seemed to be interested in what to DO about it. Here’s a summary of a few of those questions. Watch the rest when the video is available.
Tracy Dunbar, a well-known local Common Core opponent is horrified at the extent and intended goals of the data mining, She referred us to the ed.gov site, specifically to the “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance” piece there. She cited page 44 references to utilizing the “latest technology,” including retinal scans for “biometrics,” facial recognition scanners, biometric chair pads to measure squirm and dare we say- “arousal.” Ms. Dunbar wants to make sure that opt-out is available. Ms. Dunbar home-schooled her own children.
Debra Tash, Editor-in-Chief of this publication- citizensjournal.us– focused on “what can we do to get the word (opt-out form, strategy) to everyone?” There was talk about giving out materials at schools, outside schools, etc. Brad Dacus mentioned that parents may not be permitted to hand out material in the schools, but there’s no way to stop the kids from doing so.
Fran Austin of Westlake, a former teacher, was concerned that she had no leverage as a grandparent to protect younger family members from Common Core. She sent an opt-out to her grandchild’s middle school, which was never acknowledged. Brad Dacus said forms don’t need to be acknowledged if there is some other form of proof of delivery. They are then put on notice. Of course, if a grandparent isn’t the legal guardian, it is of no effect. Ms. Austin also lamented CVUSD Superintendent’s flippant comment at the June 10 CC debate where he said “I make the rules- allow me to break them.”
A young man named Westin, planning on getting his teaching credential, wanted to know how he could help, even though he has no kids.
Katherine Nolan (?) said that she really has no idea what happens to her children at school and is nervous about the lack of knowledge and control. She said that there was nothing in her second grader’s file except grades and notes from her. She was advised to keep in touch with teachers, ask questions, get involved.
Michele Seifert came all the way from Orange County, because there’s nothing like this event and the effort backing it there, at least not that she’s aware of. She described herself as now willing to even sit in front of a Wal-Mart to alert others on the hazards – and remedies for – Common Core. The interaction which ensued revealed that personal anonymity would be hard to retain, even under existing laws, with the masses of data collected. Students, teachers and schools all have unique identity numbers, but even if those were withheld, acquiring about seven data points would allow one to figure out who the anonymous person was.
Joe Panzarello of the John Birch Society asked for the event video and asserted that a national school curriculum is a violation of federal law and that it is a phony claim that it is a state program. Some states are saying no data will be permitted to leave the state. What if principal refuses to sign a parents opt out form? Brad Dacus: doesn’t matter, because proof of delivery (certified mail, fedex, fax, email) registers parents’ demand to invoke privacy rights.
The youngest questioner was ten year old Tyler Bolsoni (shown at a previous speaking engagement), a homeschooled youth who also writes a column for Citizensjournal.us. He couldn’t reach the microphone, so the moderator put him in her chair to ask his question which was: how can I help stop Common Core by talking to other kids?
There were a couple of hundred in attendance, some coming from as far away as Orange County to attend. The event site was provided by Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park.
Host Pastor Rob McCoy of Calvary Chapel at one point responded to a comment by Brad Dacus that no endorsement of any political candidate was implied, saying that he recommends Tony Dolz for School Board.
Post-event statement by organizer Tony Dolz of Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley (He spoke at the event, but this statement is more comprehensive)
Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley and the Pacific Justice Institute held a town hall meeting regarding parents’ legal right to privacy for the children in school and their families in a packed auditorium in Newbury Park on Wednesday, November 6th.
The Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley is a grassroots organization of parents and teachers that serve as watchdogs for excellence in public education and the protection of parental rights, local control of schools and the respect of privacy.
The Pacific Justice Institute, with 500 attorneys deployed throughout California, is a legal defense organization recognized for winning civil rights battles for parents of public, charter, private and home schooled students.
California parents are very fortunate in that the right to privacy in school is strongly protected by the statutes. Privacy has become a matter of serious concern for all American and in no case is it more dangerous than when data mining and profiling is aimed our children.
Although it is not generally known, parents in California under California Education Code §§ 51513, 60614, 60615 and 20 U.S.C. § 1232(h) can legally opt their children out of:
1) Taking any and all statewide performance assessments, including but not by way of limitation to, academic, achievement and annual tests, and Common Core interim and formative
assessments, administered pursuant to sections 60600, et seq. (Calif. Educ. § 60615);
2) The administration of any test, questionnaire, survey, examination or evaluation containing any questions or items relative to my child, or my personal beliefs or practices in sex, family–(spacing) life, morality, or religion (Calif. Educ. § 51513);
3) The administration of any test, examination, or assessment as part of a statewide pupil assessment program relative to my child, or my personal beliefs or practices in sex, family life, morality, or religion, or any question designed to evaluate personal behavioral characteristics, including, but not limited to, honesty, integrity, sociability, or self-esteem (Calif. Educ. § 60614);
The administration of any survey, analysis or evaluation that reveals: (1) political affiliations or beliefs of my child or me, (2) mental or psychological problems of my child or his or her family, (3) sexual behavior or attitudes, (4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or 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 my child or me, 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.) (20 U.S.C. § 1232(h))
Two speakers laid out the essential information for parents and teachers.
Dr. Walt Chappell, a nationally recognized authority on Common Core and data mining explained the history behind the persistent attempt by the federal government of wrestling public education from the parents and putting it in the hands of central planners in Washington. Dr. Chappell talked about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). He explained how it came to pass that for the first time since the beginning of public education, states like California are under obligation to collect a massive amount of personal information on the students and their families from K-12 and turn it over to the federal government. This data will, for the first time, be shared with other states, the federal government and with private and non-profit organizations that are partners in Common Core and stand to profit from its deployment
Brad Dacus, the president of the Pacific Justice Institute, covered California laws and education codes that give the parents the right to opt out of intrusive state and federal surveys, tests and assessments. Mr. Dacus produced for the parents a legally vetted Opt Out form that parents can present to the schools; rendering them protected against data mining. In conclusion Mr. Dacus assured the parents that the Institute’s 500 attorneys were at their disposal and that if upon filing their opt out form to the schools, their rights were violated, that they would represent the parents in court – pro bono.
Parents reading about this meeting or viewing the video of the event (video will be available at www.ConcernedParentsOfConejoValley.com) are encouraged to download the opt out form and submit to the school immediately. The more parents that take action, the stronger will be the pressure on the schools to respect our privacy. Starting today tell five other parents how to protect their children’s privacy.
When the moderator asked if there were teachers in the audience, many rose their hands. We are not alone. Teachers are parents just like us; and that is why they have joined the Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley.
In the coming days and weeks we should start feeling the impact; and hopefully the message of hope will spread to a great many parents. We want a deluge of opt-out forms, letters, calls to and meetings with school officials!)
Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, living in Somis, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author
George Miller is a Citizen Journalist “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.