Thursday, December 12, 2002
APPARENT PUPIL PRIVACY VIOLATION IN LINCOLN:
WHY SCHOOLS COST MORE AND DO LESS,
AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT
A friend of mine in the Lincoln (Neb.) Public Schools sent along a copy of the following questions that his child was asked to answer in front of the other kids in seventh-grade health class:
1. More than anything else, I want to have a reputation for being_______.
2. What are 3 things I can do to get this kind of reputation?
3. What are 3 things I might do to ruin this reputation?
4. More than anything else, I want to keep from getting a reputation for being______.
5. What are 3 mistakes that might get me this reputation?
6. What are 3 things I can do to keep from getting this kind of reputation?
In addition, there were two questions for the child to take home to discuss with the parent and bring back a response.
Now, those questions aren’t as bad as the ones about sex experiences and drug use that my children were asked in “anonymous” and “confidential” -- but CODED and NUMBERED -- surveys given in our old school district, another reason we hightailed it out of there, because of the obvious and constant privacy violations.
But these questions really were bothersome and objectionable to my friend, who wrote: “Smells fishy to me. I guess I always assumed a health class to be one that teaches how the body works, how to avoid disease, how bacteria and viruses work, how to deal correctly with people who have any of a number of conditions, etc., and be helpful, not fearful . . . not some kind of psychobabble fishing expedition.”
He said, “Actually I find this kind of intrusive questioning to have an unintended consequence that could result in liability for the school and injury to the student. You see, they have to discuss this openly in class . . . in front of everyone . . . and a ‘bully’ type of kid would see this type of thing as a BONANZA of material to use to forever harass someone whose inner feelings do not have to be exposed to the world. Especially question #4, which has to be read aloud for others to hear.”
The bad news, this type of nosy questioning is going on at all grade levels, in all kinds of subjects, and taking time increasingly away from academic subjects.
The good news is, parents have a remedy. It’s called the “Hatch Amendment,” and it’s described below.
But this incident also brings up something that’s important for parents, policymakers and taxpayers to know: these “assessments” going on in our schools are not really “assessing” students’ academic skills anymore. They’re “assessing” each student’s future “worth,” and that “worth” is measured based more on the student’s attitudes, values and beliefs than on how well he or she is mastering the old 3 R’s.
Now we have the 3 T’s: testing (actually, assessing), treatment and tracking.
Schools “need” more money not to deliver academics better, but to find out what the kids are struggling with and then “meet” those “needs,” most of which are nonacademic.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you ask kids a lot of questions designed to turn up affective dysfunction instead of building their academic functionality, you are going to turn up dysfunction instead of making them more academically functional. And students who are less academically functional are going to be more affectively dysfunctional . . . which costs us more money to fix.
It’s another example of how the “special education philosophy” has taken over our schools. The focus is on problems, not solutions, and inputs, not results. The result is making kids who are more dysfunctional and more dependent on the state, not less, and therefore more costly to “educate,” not less.
This slide into the “therapeutic classroom” has been documented in books like “Child Abuse in the Classroom,” the 445-page transcript of a series of hearings nationwide on school privacy violations, edited by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.
Privacy violations are happening everywhere, because over the last 25 years the philosophy of our public schools has turned much more toward “affective” education – education that centers on developing each child’s attitudes, values and beliefs – and away from the old 3 R’s plus science, history, geography, art, music and gym.
Education activists and authors have meticulously documented the slide into social engineering and the increasing use of information gleaned from these “assessments” and “surveys.” In general, they really are sophisticated “fishing expeditions.” Funding for them has been “laundered” by federal grants, think tanks, universities and “centers.”
With their information extraction capabilities, they act as go-betweens linking innocent, vulnerable children who are unwittingly ratting on their own and their parents’ attitudes and proclivities, with the government nannies who use the private, personal information extracted down to the microrecord level.
What for? For tweaking curriculum into mind-control ammunition designed to develop the politically correct attitudes, values and beliefs that the government nannies want. They literally use the personal information gleaned from kids to distort future curriculum into that which will change their attitudes and behaviors into what the state wants.
Government nannies also are using this personal information to label and pigeonhole individual kids into career paths their “affective portfolios” say they’re suited for . . . which might not be what they really ARE suited for, but might be what the state NEEDS them to be suited for.
The activists who have exposed this process include B.K. Eakman (“Educating for the ‘New World Order’” and “Cloning of the American Mind,” www.beverlye.com), Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt (“The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America,” www.deliberatedumbingdown.com), Berit Kjos (“Brave New Schools,” www.crossroad.to), Anita Hoge (who stopped the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from giving these emotional assessments to all Pennsylvania students and set OBE back several years there, www.3Dresearch.com/hoge/), and Peg Luksik and Pamela Hobbs Hoffecker (“Outcome-Based Education: The State’s Assault on Our Children’s Values”).
Have they been able to stop the schools from doing this? No.
If a few more parents rise up and fight back, can we stop it? Probably not.
If ALL of us parents do, can we? Probably. But that probably won’t happen. Our schools are just too far down this path.
It’s lamentable, but that’s our world. Now how do parents who know and care navigate through situations like this?
Your defense team is already in place, and it’s a little-known federal law.
Every public school is supposed to be following the Protection of Pupil Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1232H), called the “Hatch Amendment.” It was named for Sen. Orrin Hatch but ironically, the impetus for it came from the late Sen. Edward Zorinsky of Omaha.
If your school district does not have the protections of the Hatch Amendment in its district policy book and is taking federal funds, it will be in big trouble if its personnel violate the following provisions.
The act provides, among other things, that no student will be required to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning:
-- political affiliations.
-- mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family.
-- sexual behavior or attitudes.
-- illegal, antisocial, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior.
-- critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships.
-- legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers.
-- income, other than information necessary to establish eligibility for a program.
Any test, questionnaire or survey that would produce those answers, but for which educators HAVE obtained the prior written consent of parents or guardians to give to their kids, is OK.
If my friend was not given reasonable time to scan those questions in advance and opt his child out to do something else during that class time without being embarrassed or losing any school credit, then the Lincoln Public Schools broke the law.
If my friend found that sort of information in his child's permanent file, guidance files, teacher documents or any other official school records, the district would be in big trouble. Parents who suspect this sort of wrongful data collection is going on have the right to inspect their child's guidance files and all other records, and should.
No immediate comment was available from LPS.
The incident points up another concern for parents besides the apparent “fishing” into our children’s hearts. And that deeper question is whether time in school is being used for the purposes we want.
Affective education is the cornerstone of Outcome-Based Education; the Lincoln Public Schools was the first district in Nebraska to jump into OBE full bore. The widespread adoption of OBE is why public schools are probably too far down the road to change back into academic focuses now. OBE is too deeply entrenched in everything from teacher training to state standards and regulations. So it should come as no surprise that these sorts of nonacademic exercises are going on across Nebraska, and especially in LPS, so heavily influenced by Teachers College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the state’s education bureaucracy, the twin altars of OBE in Nebraska.
But these nosy health-class questions are just another example of why our K-12 public schools are costing more and more, and yet apparently our kids’ academic skills are developing less and less.
It’s not the money. It’s what they’re doing with it . . . and NOT doing.
It’s not an education problem. It’s a management problem.
My friend, the father of the seventh-grader, said he wants health information to be taught TO his child . . . not fished OUT of him, for who knows whose eyes to see on down the road.
Well, friend, it’s time for you and other concerned parents to be the physician, to fight this virus and protect our kids.
Prescription: print this out, anonymously if necessary, and send it to remind our schools about the Hatch Amendment.
Then make sure they take their medicine and follow through on doctors’ orders . . . which come from us parents and taxpayers, and are designed to cure this virus of privacy invasion in our schools, and start the recovery back to academic health.
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