Category: Featured

Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director, Deborah Love’s recently published article addresses creation of State Longitudinal Data System

By Deborah Love, executive director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, she also was appointed to and served on the Alabama ESSA Implementation Committee on Data Collection and Early Learning sub-committees

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/02/how_much_is_your_childs_privac.html

Justice Brandeis wrote, “the right to privacy is the right to be left alone.” Privacy is an essential aspect of a free society. Yet Representative Terri Collins is once again pushing a state longitudinal database bill in the Alabama legislature. A state longitudinal database is a centrally controlled database which collects and stores personally identifiable information on students. This centrally controlled database will track students throughout their lives and continuously consolidate personal data between multiple state agencies. While the bill has been renamed “Answers” this year it provides few. Instead it will give broad powers to what will be a newly created agency and advisory board with no accountability.

Though the Alabama Department of Labor has promised the bill does not allow the collection of private and personal student information, the bill itself contradicts that claim. Its collection and retention is clearly anticipated in the bill. The bill describes “security clearance requirements for individuals with access to personally identifiable information.” The bill goes further to describe who has direct access to this information. “Direct access to personally identifying information in the system shall be restricted to staff and authorized representatives of the office.”

Personally identifiable information could be a home address of a student or where they work. This means a government employee not involved with a child’s education on a local level will have access to a student’s geographic location on a daily basis. Data in the system will only go through a deidentification process if released to the public or researchers. This does not restrict the collection and retention of personally identifiable information within the system or among state agencies.

Information is personally identifiable because anyone can use this information and then identify the student by name. Personally identifiable information can be anything that identifies you as you. Aggregate data points combined can also become personally identifiable when combined in one central lo-cation. HB97 and its companion bill SB153 will combine information from ten state agencies in a central location and can potentially combine information from “any additional public agency or entity”.

The bill does not provide new state protection for student privacy; instead, the bill only punishes an actor merely for improperly sharing student data without the permission of the agency. The agency though will be collecting personally identifiable information on individual students. Government tracking of individual citizens including students is a violation of fundamental privacy rights. Senator Del Marsh and the Department of Labor claim that the information will be kept confidential. But this is a false promise as the bill only contains vague promises to create plans at a later date or internal policies with no outside accountability. HB97/SB153 acknowledges that breaches will occur as it instructs the advisory board to develop “plans for responding to security breaches.”

The philosophical foundation of HB97/ SB153 is that central planning works, that governments have the right to monitor the movements of individuals in addition to collecting unlimited information on private citizens throughout the course of their lives. These premises violate essential liberties that must be respected in a free society and violate the proper role of government in society. Human history has provided many examples of what types of government abuses result when this type of power is given to the government. If the government has the right to track and collect personal information through-out the course of an individual’s life, then there is no truly free citizen.

Only current state and Federal law are mentioned in HB97/SB153 as privacy protections; but the comprehensive Student and Parent Privacy Protection Bill was not passed in the last Alabama legislative session. In addition, the Alabama bills cite dependence on the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which was passed in 1974. However, the Federal Department of Education gutted FERPA in December of 2011. On January 3, 2012, changes went into effect that allowed for the collection of student data by third parties. FERPA is outdated to address current privacy threats with the changes from emerging technology. Thus there is no state or federal law which protects the massive amount of student data that will be collected in this longitudinal data system.

At the first senate meeting on the bill this session the sponsor claimed the purpose of the bill was “to meet the demands of industry.” This vague purpose is focused subsidization of certain business interests and increasing power of unelected state agency heads. This alliance is for the mutual benefit of these special interests, but not for students. Parents and students should know that this bill allows and requires a centrally controlled data collection system to track students through the course of their lives and to collect unlimited personal information on students and potentially other citizens.

Alabamians, parents and eligible students must ask themselves how important their privacy is because it is about to be handed over to a state agency and an advisory board controlled by special interests.

Students, parents and private citizens were not allowed to speak at House and Senate meetings on the bills this week even though public hearings were requested. Yet multiple government agencies were allowed to speak in support of the bills.

Apparently for supporters of HB97/SB153 your child’s privacy means less than the misguided demands of big industry and bureaucrats.

How Much is Your Child’s Data Worth?

Rep. Terri Collins has introduced HB97, the State Longitudinal Database bill (companion bill is SB153).  The Alabama Department of Labor has promised the bill does not allow for collection of private and personal student information, but the bill itself contradicts the department.  It  describes, “security clearance requirements for individuals with access to personally identifiable information.”

The bill’s sponsor describes its purpose “is to meet the demands of industry”.   It is not the duty of government to train workers for industry or to track students into state selected jobs.  Regardless, there is no reason important enough to turn over any of your child’s personal, non-academic information.  The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, ” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

There are no real protections outlined in the bill.  Only current state and Federal law are mentioned.  Dependence is placed upon FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), which is a federal act that was gutted in December 2011.  With FERPA, data collection is now available to third parties.  The comprehensive Student and Parent Privacy Protection bill could have provided significant protection, but Rep. Collins refused even to bring it before her Education Policy Committee for discussion last year.

HB97 acknowledges that breaches will occur as it instructs the advisory board to develop “plans for responding to security breaches.”

See Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love’s opinion piece on HB97 here and here.

Protecting student privacy rights should come first when making public policy and legislative decisions.  Please encourage your legislators to vote NO on HB97 and its companion Senate Bill, SB 153.

You may reach your House member by calling 334-242-7600 and asking for their office.  The  Senate  number is 334-242-7800. 

To find your legislators, visit http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators

 

Pro-Life Bills Pass Out of House Health Committee

Great news!  All three of the pro-life bills that Eagle Forum of Alabama is promoting were reported out of the House Health Committee on Feb. 8th, after public hearings on all of them.

HB24 – Adoption by Rep. Rich Wingo (334) 242-7681
This bill would establish the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act.  It would prohibit the state from discriminating against child placing agencies on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child placement that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the provider.

HB95 – Conscience by Rep. Arnold Mooney (334) 242-7744

This bill would give health care providers the following: The authority to refuse to perform or to participate in health care services that violate their conscience; immunity from civil, criminal, or administrative liability for refusing to provide or participate in a health care service that violates their conscience. It would declare it unlawful for any person to discriminate against health care providers for declining to participate in a health care service that violates their conscience. The bill would also provide for injunctive relief and back pay for violation.

 

HB96 – Suicide by Rep. Mack Butler (334) 242-7446

This bill would establish the Assisted Suicide Ban Act to prohibit a person or a health care provider from providing aid in dying to another person and would provide civil and criminal penalties for violations.

 

We are asking Representatives for a “Pro-life Day” for all three bills to come up in the House. Senate sponsors should be dropping companion bills in the next few days. Please call the numbers listed above, and thank the sponsors and Rep. April Weaver, chairperson of the Health Committee for the completion of this first step.  She can be reached at (334) 242-7731.

2016 Eagle Forum of Alabama Education Foundation Banquet Photographs

Banquet guests had the great opportunity to hear and meet special speakers Michael Reagan and Associate Justice Glenn Murdock during the reception at the banquet. Click on this link https://flic.kr/s/aHskPUhqdi to see photographs from the banquet at The Club now! Share your photos on Facebook and tag @Eagle Forum of Alabama. Make sure to not miss upcoming Eagle Forum of Alabama events and breaking policy updates by signing up for alerts and membership today at alabamaeagle.org.

 

 

 

Reserve your seat to hear Michael Reagan

Dear Friend,

We, at Eagle Forum of Alabama, are excited to invite you to our annual banquet in Birmingham on November 14th.  Our special guest will be Michael Reagan, son of President Reagan.  He will speak on “Lessons My Father Taught Me” as revealed in his book by this title.  Also, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock will make brief remarks on religious liberty which captivated attendees at the 2016 National Day of Prayer.

Eagle Forum of Alabama has worked for decades promoting conservative policies here in Alabama.  In order for us to continue our vital work in these challenging times, we need your support.  Below is an invitation for this event, and I would like to ask that you carefully consider supporting us by purchasing tickets ($125 each), a table for 8 ($1,000) or being a sponsor (call for more information on sponsorships).

Since Eagle Forum of Alabama Education Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization, your support is tax-deductible except for the cost of the dinner.  Please don’t hesitate to call (205-879-7096) or email (alaeagle@charter.net) if you have any questions or need additional information.

Please join us, and invite your friends to come, too.

Blessings,

Eunie Smith

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Statement of Eunie Smith on Passing of Phyllis Schlafly

Eagle Forum First Vice President Reflects on the Life and Legacy of one of America’s Great Conservative Leaders

 

Today Phyllis Schlafly has gone home to be with her Lord after a long illness.  America has lost a great stateswoman, and we at Eagle Forum and among the conservative movement have lost a beloved friend and mentor, who taught and inspired so many to fight the good fight in defense of American values.  I have personally lost a dear friend of over forty years.

Known as the “sweetheart of the silent majority,” and the matriarch of the conservative movement, Phyllis Schlafly has been a visionary, a unifier, and a voice of conscience for more than six decades.

Phyllis has been credited with doing the impossible, when she and the army of grassroots volunteers she led and trained defeated the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, which had passed both houses of Congress and seemed destined for certain ratification among the states.

Also previously thought impossible, Phyllis not only brought together people of various faiths that historically worked separately, she brought these people of faith into the political process like never before, creating a crucial voting block of values voters.

Following the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, many of the volunteers Phyllis trained became leaders in the organization that was named Eagle Forum.  The name was inspired by Isaiah 40:31, an encouragement to the battle weary that those who wait upon the Lord will “mount up with wings like eagles.”

Phyllis and her beloved “Eagles” are known for fighting tirelessly and for mobilizing political power for principle, not prestige or profit.  For decades under Phyllis’ leadership, Eagle Forum has led the pro-family movement through such diverse and important battles as defending the unborn, defending traditional marriage, defending American workers from unfair trade and immigration policies, defending individual inventors from losing their intellectual property to large corporations, defending women from being drafted into military combat, defending full-time homemakers, defending conservatives and grassroots activists from establishment kingmakers, defending children from politicized public education, defending American taxpayers from out-of-control federal spending, and defending against threats to American exceptionalism.

There will never be another Phyllis Schlafly.  Today is a day to celebrate her amazing legacy and to remember the profound difference she made in the conduct of American public policy.  Thank you, Phyllis.  We will not grow weary.

Open Letter to Alabama State Board of Education

August 15, 2016

Open letter to Alabama State Board of Education

Dear Friends,

We congratulate you in your choice of Michael Sentance, JD, as our next superintendent.    Your determination to move Alabama from its current, uncharacteristic dead last position among all the other states was made apparent in your selection of a key player from the top performing state in the nation, Massachusetts.  This is a strong statement that the status quo is not good enough.

It was refreshing and hopeful to hear Mr. Sentance in his interview as he explained that Alabama’s problems are comparable to what Massachusetts faced, and as he eloquently suggested solutions like those that he implemented and that worked in Massachusetts.  Alabama’s success story will be even more dramatic when, God willing, Mr. Sentance puts his prior experience, his recipe for success, to work in Alabama.  We believe that the road to the finest moment in Alabama education may have just begun.

Again we applaud you for taking this bold step.  To have done less would have been a real disservice to our children and their future. We all agree with Mr. Sentance that we “want all kids to realize their destinies and their dreams”.

We have already contacted Mr. Sentance with our full support!

Blessings,

Eunie Smith, President

Leslie Whitcomb, Education Chairman

 

 

 

URGENT ACTION NEEDED! We Cannot Wait Another Day!

WE CANNOT WAIT ANOTHER DAY!

Please call your state representative and your state senator today, and ask them NOT to vote for a lottery.  Joe Godfrey, Executive Director of ALCAP, has issued an alert that we think needs to passed along to you immediately, as time is of the essence.

According to a Montgomery Advertiser article (click here to read the article), the Governor is planning to call a Special Session of the Alabama Legislature in order to find funding for Medicaid.  The article implies (and we have heard from reliable sources) that a state-sponsored lottery will be the primary “solution” offered to the Medicaid funding problem, and for the lottery Constitutional Amendment to be on the November ballot, the Special Session will need to be held in early to mid-August.

If pastors and church members do not contact their House Members and State Senators NOW and urge them to oppose all pro-gambling bills during the anticipated Special Session, we will be facing a lottery referendum this November! Given our limited resources, it will be difficult for churches to stop such a vote on the November ballot.

The Alabama Supreme Court wrote several years ago that a “lottery” is defined as “any game of chance.”  That means that if the people of Alabama vote for a lottery, the Legislature could come back and establish casinos throughout the state.

No state or government has ever gambled its way out of a financial crisis.  Instead, gambling actually sucks money out of the economy and states that have legalized lotteries and casino gambling have continually had to raise their taxes to cover the lost revenue from other sources.  California and Illinois are good examples of this.

It is also important to note that if the people of Alabama vote for a lottery, that will not be the end of it.  Pro-gambling forces will continue to push for new forms of lottery ticket sales (Keno and scratch tickets, video terminals, etc.) and new types of gambling.  Once a government becomes addicted to gambling dollars, that government will have to continue to “prop up” the gambling operations and expand gambling in order to keep revenue from gambling coming into the state.

A new documentary has been produced that shows the fallacy of state-sponsored gambling, especially lotteries. The movie is entitled, “Out of Luck.”  The downloadable version from the internet contains language not suited for viewing in churches, but an “educational version” has been released that drops the sound when those words are used.

Joe Godfrey has a copy of the educational version DVD and is willing to travel to different areas of the state in order to show the 1 hour and 44 minute documentary to groups of pastors and area associations of churches.  They will also try to have DVDs of the educational version available for churches to use.  The cost of the DVDs will be $25 (their cost).

If you, or a group of area associations and churches would like to schedule a viewing in the next couple of weeks, please contact Joe at jgodfrey@alcap.com or call the ALCAP office at 205.985.9062. Or, if you wish to order the educational DVD directly, you may contact Joe directly at  jgodfrey@alcap.com

Why is the First Amendment the greatest threat to terrorism?

Deborah Love, Executive Director

Eagle Forum of Alabama

In the wake of the terror attack this weekend in Orlando, our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost their loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts will continue to remain with those injured, as well as their family and friends. The facts show that this was an act of terrorism, an act of intolerance and an act of disgusting violence. What should unite all of us no matter what our perspectives or backgrounds may be, is our deep appreciation for freedom, and especially, our love and appreciation for the First Amendment. I believe the First Amendment is the greatest threat to terrorism – not force. The First Amendment protects the right of the Muslim to worship and the right of citizens to criticize the violence that has accompanied Islam. It protects an individual’s right to protest the treatment of those in LGBT community or the right of a Conservative to present their perspective on marriage and family. Many are calling for stricter measures on guns, hate crime laws or restrictions on civil liberties as a response to the attack. When emotions run high, there is a natural reaction to act boldly. However, the first hasty suggestions typically are ill-suited to either assuaging the pain at the loss of our fellow Americans, or ensuring that such an incident never happens again.

The intention of terrorism is to inflict fear and hate, and push American society away from the diverse and free culture that allows robust dialogue and expression. If we push the government to weaken our freedoms in response to the attack in any regard, then we are allowing the terrorists to succeed. Terrorism is never an existential threat by itself, but rather, it relies on an overreaction of the target country to achieve its small minded goals. We have a unique ability as Alabamians and as Americans to disagree with our fellow man, but to still love them. Ideas are powerful and so is freedom. Hate will win if we allow fear to rule our policy decisions in response to the terror attack. We must reject the hasty suggestions to the age old problem of evil in our midst, and instead rely on our institutions of free belief, action and expression. It is by and through this, the simple act of acting and thinking and behaving as Americans have whenever faced with tyranny and hate, that we will destroy the terrorists, their beliefs, their goals and their very ability to function.

Remembering Frances Wideman

Frances Wideman, long-time member and leader of Eagle Forum of Alabama, went home to be with the Lord on June 1, 2016.  She was a dedicated wife and mother, true conservative warrior and lived her life for the glory of God.  As Eunie Smith, President of Eagle Forum of Alabama stated in this article from The Birmingham News, “She acted out her faith throughout her life, in her family relationships, in the community, in the political arena and on the national scene.”

Frances was a blessing to all who knew her.  She will be sorely missed.

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