By Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama and Shanna Chamblee, Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs, Alabama Gun Rights Inc.
The events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have left students, parents and an entire nation in agony. Since the Columbine massacre, our nation has been horribly awakened to a new normal – a world in which these massacres are not all that irregular. Each time one occurs, people are motivated to offer idyllic solutions so that such an incident may not happen again.
The truth of the matter is…more
J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for AL.com. Contact him at [email protected].
Alabama’s conservative State Legislature should have severed our connection to Common Core years ago, but thanks to a rather muddled opposition effort and lack of responsiveness from our lawmakers, the disastrous scheme not only survived initial repeal efforts but it’s now on the verge of becoming a settled issue.
Just ask Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh about any further attempts to replace the standards.
“I don’t think this body really wants to deal with it, yet it keeps coming up and taking up time,” Marsh said earlier this year after a vote to repeal Common Core was postponed. “Hopefully, we addressed it for the last time today, but if it keeps coming up I will vote against it.”
With a bit of luck, the recent appointment of Michael Sentance as our state’s superintendent of public schools will cause lawmakers like Marsh to take another look at the growing body of evidence against the scheme.
Sentance has been an opponent of Common Core in the past and recently worked to have it thrown out in Massachusetts, where he once served as the state’s secretary of education.
While it remains unclear what Sentance will say about Common Core once he’s in Montgomery, he obviously hasn’t been fooled by the cleverly marketed yet woefully inadequate, completely unproven, and thoroughly domineering national system of standards. He saw first hand how Massachusetts was forced to lower its otherwise high standards to meet the scheme’s goal of redefining “success” as whatever the lowest common denominator was nationwide.
That’s what the “common” in Common Core is really all about: leveling the outcome so that all students end up with the same amount of education, and that’s achieved not by lifting the stragglers up, but by pulling the achievers down.
Sound familiar? It should, because that’s the basis of every other centrally planned scheme that we’ve suffered through.
To be fair to Marsh and others who support the standards, Common Core may have sounded like a good idea five years ago, perhaps even two years ago, but the actual results are now coming in and they’re all indicating the same thing: we’ve been fooled.
They sold the untested plan as a set of rigorous standards that would prepare our children for competitive colleges and challenging careers. But they’re not. They’re weaker, far weaker in fact, than other proven standards that we could have adopted.
Take mathematics, for instance. Jason Zimba, one of the primary authors of the math standards, admitted during a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 that Common Core wasn’t actually designed to prepare students for selective universities or careers in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields (STEM). It’s meant to be average, or “common,” and not rigorous at all.
If your child wants to be an engineer or enter another STEM-related field, shouldn’t you be concerned that our state has imposed a substandard standard upon his school? Or maybe you agree with Marsh and wish people would just quit bothering you about this “settled” issue.
We all want the best education for our children, but conservatives should have known better.
Anything planned in secret by a small group of unelected and unaccountable liberals, that wasn’t tried and tested in any sizable district or for any serious length of time, and was imposed without thoughtful debate was sure to be chock full of unintended consequences … and even a few intended ones that wouldn’t have passed if widely known.
Now we’re nearly stuck with it, and that’s also by design.
Before, local communities could change their district’s education policies – standards, texts, tests, etc. — because we vote on a school board who controls those things.
Now, if you have a concern with these new national standards, your local school board will simply pass the buck to the state school board, who’ll then pass the buck to the U.S. Department of Education … where it’ll become forever lost in an ocean of unaccountable and unresponsive bureaucracy. Your congressman might write them a strongly worded letter, but that’s about it.
Hopefully, the buck will now stop with Sentance, and he’ll help put an end to Common Core in Alabama.
August 15, 2016
Open letter to Alabama State Board of Education
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!
Eunie Smith, President
Leslie Whitcomb, Education Chairman
From the Alabama Political Reporter, April 27, 2016
By Brandon Moseley
There are only five legislative days left in the 2016 Alabama Legislative Session, and the leadership plans on burning three of those this week. Both of the constitutionally mandated budgets have passed, so all that is left is deciding what bills live, and what bills die, when legislators vote to sine die this session.
One of the most controversial pieces of legislation facing the Senate is HB125, sponsored by State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur), which would create a State longitudinal data system to track Alabama school students as they progress through schools, on to college, and into the work force. Read the full story here.
The Alabama State Longitudinal Database System Bill or House Bill 125 (HB125) would create two new state agencies with no accountability and almost unlimited authority. The agencies’ sole purpose would be to collect information on private citizens. HB125 is currently back in the House with the Holley Amendment added which forces private schools to comply.
The first new agency created would be the Alabama Office of Education and Workforce Statistics, and the second is the powerful advisory board made up primarily of agency heads. This bill will apply to all public school students and workers leaving public education. It will collect private information on individuals, potentially through their entire lives. The purpose of this bill is to collect information on students, and monitor them indefinitely. As the bill states, “to create the Alabama Longitudinal Data System to provide for the matching of information about students from early learning through postsecondary education and into employment.” (pg. 1) The stated goal of the legislation is to, “guide decision makers at all levels.” (pg. 3) No clear basis or need for this mass amount of data collection on private citizens including students is provided. The bill contains only vague promises of confidentially with no actual method of protection or limitation on the data collection power of these new agencies. The bill claims to provide protections but provides none. “The protection and the maintenance of confidentiality of collected educational data, including compliance with the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and all other relevant state and federal privacy laws, and all relevant state cyber security policies,” (pg. 5). Originally, FERPA was the federal law designed to protect family privacy in education settings. However, the Federal Department of Education gutted the law in December of 2011. On January 3, 2012, changes went into effect that allowed for the collection of student data by third parties. Those parties retain ownership of the data and may share or sell it at their discretion.
The first phrase from the bill listed above, is an empty promise, as nowhere in bill are there measures to protect the data. It is important to note that there are currently no State or Federal laws which apply to this bill in regard to protecting students’ personally identifiable information such as name, social security number, or family information. Even if all the information collected were dis-aggregate (meaning not on-its-own enough to identify an individual) it is still dangerous. Dis-aggregate information becomes personal information once you have just a few data points. Eagle Forum of Alabama opposes HB125, as it would create two extremely powerful agencies and violate the rights of Alabamians. If the government is going to seek any private information from citizens, they must provide a sound basis or get a warrant.
The Holley Amendment, which Eagle Forum of Alabama has also reviewed, has now passed. It does not solve the problems of HB125. The Holley Amendment actually creates additional problems such as requiring private schools receiving any state funding to comply with this data collection program. Go to Eagle Forum of Alabama’s website to find your legislators.
Take action now! Contact your State Representative and Senator and strongly request they oppose HB125. For more information contact Deborah Love, Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama at (205) 879-7096.
“Uncle Sam is becoming “Uncle Shrink” to millions of schoolchildren, including many preschoolers, who are now subject to various psychology-focused educational components that have been implanted in federal education legislation over the past decade.” Read the entire article here.
The Student and Parent Privacy Protection Act HB267 was filed yesterday by Rep. Arnold Mooney, with 35 co-sponsors. The bill is a result of a large bi-partisan effort to protect student privacy in Alabama. Thirty-three states have already passed similar legislation. The bill must pass out of the Education Policy Committee. Its members need to hear from us. Please encourage the following members to vote HB267 out of committee ASAP: Chairman Collins, Vice-Chairman Rich, Robinson, Butler, Drummond, Fincher, Henry, Moore (B), Patterson, Pringle, Scott, Todd and Williams (P). Please contact your State Representative (http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators). Tell him your child's privacy is important to you and your family. Ask him to support this bi-partisan effort to protect the privacy of our children. Thank the co-sponsors: Fridy (M), Moore (B), Wingo, Black, Hammon, Beech, Williams (P), Daniels, Farley, Whorton (R), Holmes (M), Hanes, Todd, Fincher, Williams (JW), Whorton (I), Shedd, Ainsworth, Ledbetter, Scott, Drake, Pettus, Warren, Knight, Harbison, Hall, Polizos, Henry, Carns, Brown, Martin, Standridge, Beckman, Wadsworth and Givan. What does this bill do? This bill sets limits as to what data may not be collected and shared. It provides for what data may be used on the local level to a minimum degree for clearly stated academic purposes. It sets limits on the State government and data collection systems and programs in order to protect students and parents from invasive government practices. It protects the civil liberties of students and parents which are foundational to strong academics, freedom of speech and progress. It limits the collection of certain sensitive information and the disclosure of personally identifiable student information to third parties. It provides for enforcement and penalties. Why is it needed? There is not adequate privacy protection at the state or federal level currently to protect student privacy in Alabama’s Public Schools. As technology has developed rapidly the laws are not in place to address the pressing civil liberty violations facing students and parents. Students are being used as pawns in experimental programs, tracked by the government and tracked by corporations targeting these students to sell and research their products. What protections will be provided by HB267? • Keeps data and student information on the local level where it was intended to be used for the benefit of the student and not outside agencies or corporations. Prohibits the broad sharing of personal data collected on Alabama’s students. • Protects personal identifiable student information from being shared without specific protections. Requires the state and third party contractors to follow certain security and privacy protection measures. • Prohibits the collection of highly sensitive information on students, such as religious affiliation or political beliefs from being collected by the school system. • Requires parental and student notification for the use of their personally identifiable student information. • Removes loopholes which stop parents and students from having real accountability once a privacy violation occurs. • Prohibits invasive overreach of outside parties obtaining personally identifiable student information. • Provides parents and students with access to monitor their child's personal record so that they can ensure information is correct and that violations have not occurred. • Protects parents and students from unfair treatment from the state for exercising their privacy rights. How can you help? E-mail or call your State Representative today. Ask them to support House Bill 267! We need the Student and Parent Privacy Protection Act passed this session! Please go to our website to find your legislators. http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators
Here are six testimonies in support of SB60.