Uinta County Conservation District Concerned with The Next Generation Science Standards

UintaCountyConservationDistrict

The Uinta County Conservation District has released a letter they sent to the Wyoming State Board of Education addressing their concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards.  I have obtained permission from Briar Harris, Education Coordinator for the Uinta County Conservation District to publish the letter.  This letter was also sent to all Conservation Districts throughout the state. I have also included Briar’s commentary on the research and reason for concern below.

1-7-14 Letter NGSS 1st page 001

Click Letter to Enlarge

1-7-2014 Letter NGSS Signature 001

The Next Generation Science Standards: Reason for concern

Core Idea LS4

Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Biological evolution explains both the unity and the diversity of species and provides a unifying principle for the history and diversity of life on Earth. [1]

Evolution and its underlying genetic mechanisms of inheritance and variability are key to understanding both the unity and the diversity of life on Earth. [2]

Grade Band Endpoints for LS2.C

By the end of grade 12.

A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep its numbers and types of organisms relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions. If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, it may return to its more or less original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem. Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population, however, can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability. Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.[3]

Evolution is being taught as a fact rather than what it is: Theory.

LS4.D: BIODIVERSITY AND HUMANS

What is biodiversity, how do humans affect it, and how does it affect humans?

Human beings are part of and depend on the natural world. Biodiversity—the multiplicity of genes, species, and ecosystems—provides humans with renewable resources, such as food, medicines, and clean water. Humans also benefit from “ecosystem services,” such as climate stabilization, decomposition of wastes, and pollination that are provided by healthy (i.e., diverse and resilient) ecosystems. The resources of biological communities can be used within sustainable limits, but in many cases humans affect these ecosystems in ways—including habitat destruction, pollution of air and water, overexploitation of resources, introduction of invasive species, and climate change—that prevent the sustainable use of resources and lead to ecosystem degradation, species extinction, and the loss of valuable ecosystem services.[4]

But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. These problems have the potential to cause a major wave of biological extinctions—as many species or populations of a given species, unable to survive in changed environments, die out—and the effects may be harmful to humans and other living things.[5]

Humans have not only had negative effect on our natural resources but also positive effects.  Are humans really the source of all that is negative?  Do humans not take care of our natural resources?  What do many agencies like the Conservation Districts do?  Should we maybe point out the good things?

ESS2.D: WEATHER AND CLIMATE

What regulates weather and climate?

The “greenhouse effect” keeps Earth’s surface warmer than it would be otherwise. [6]

By the end of grade 8. …….Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb and retain the energy radiated from land and ocean surfaces, thereby regulating Earth’s average surface temperature and keeping it habitable.[7]

By the end of grade 12. ….. Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate (link to ESS3.D).[8]

Global climate models incorporate scientists’ best knowledge of physical and chemical processes and of the interactions of relevant systems. They are tested by their ability to fit past climate variations. Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and the biosphere. Hence the outcomes depend on human behaviors (link to ESS3.D) as well as on natural factors that involve complex feedbacks among Earth’s systems (link to ESS2.A).[9]

ESS2.E: BIOGEOLOGY

How do living organisms alter Earth’s processes and structures?

Organisms ranging from bacteria to human beings are a major driver of the global carbon cycle, and they influence global climate by modifying the chemical makeup of the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases in particular are continually moved through the reservoirs represented by the ocean, land, life, and atmosphere. [10]

  1. Again a theory, Greenhouse gases being taught as fact.

  2. Yet again it implies humans are a detriment to society.

Core Idea ESS3

Earth and Human Activity

How do Earth’s surface processes and human activities affect each other?

Earth’s surface processes affect and are affected by human activities. Humans depend on all of the planet’s systems for a variety of resources, some of which are renewable or replaceable and some of which are not. Natural hazards and other geological events can significantly alter human populations and activities. Human activities, in turn, can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards. Indeed, humans have become one of the most significant agents of change in Earth’s surface systems. In particular, it has been shown that climate change—which could have large consequences for all of Earth’s surface systems, including the biosphere—is driven not only by natural effects but also by human activities. [11]

Humans as it states have become one of the most significant agents of change in the Earth’s surface. It goes on to say “In particular, ….climate change.”  Once again humans are bad and we have caused problems such as intensity of some natural hazards and climate change.

ESS3.A: NATURAL RESOURCES

How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?

All forms of resource extraction and land use have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks, as well as benefits. New technologies and regulations can change the balance of these factors—for example, scientific modeling of the long-term environmental impacts of resource use can help identify potential problems and suggest desirable changes in the patterns of use. Much energy production today comes from nonrenewable sources, such as coal and oil. [12] However, advances in related science and technology are reducing the cost of energy from renewable resources, such as sunlight, and some regulations are favoring their use. As a result, future energy supplies are likely to come from a much wider range of sources.[13]

They have in here given us a solution to the problems humans have caused: regulations! Regulations it implies will be our saving grace as they favor renewable resources such as sunlight.  It states that science and technology are reducing the cost of renewable resources, however, it never mentions that they are not a viable solution to our energy crisis at this point because the government is subsidizing the push for renewable resources and without government subsidizing no company could even afford to be in business related to the renewable energies.  Not only do we pay higher prices for renewable energy through our utilities we also pay more taxes to subsidize them.

ESS3.B: NATURAL HAZARDS

How do natural hazards affect individuals and societies?

Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards (e.g., flooding, forest fires), and risks from natural hazards increase as populations—and population densities—increase in vulnerable locations.[14]

Grade Band Endpoints for ESS3.B

By the end of grade 5…Humans cannot eliminate natural hazards but can take steps to reduce their impacts.

By the end of grade 12…Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.

Did the Endpoints for grade 5 and 12 just contradict one another?  I believe so.  If we can contribute to the frequency and intensity of natural hazards then by not doing whatever it is that we to do contribute shouldn’t we be able to eliminate some natural hazards?  What natural hazards to humans contribute to?

ESS3.C: HUMAN IMPACTS ON EARTH SYSTEMS

How do humans change the planet?

Recorded history, as well as chemical and geological evidence, indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air. Humans affect the quality, availability, and distribution of Earth’s water through the modification of streams, lakes, and groundwater. Large areas of land, including such delicate ecosystems as wetlands, forests, and grasslands, are being transformed by human agriculture, mining, and the expansion of settlements and roads. Human activities now cause land erosion and soil movement annually that exceed all natural processes. Air and water pollution caused by human activities affect the condition of the atmosphere and of rivers and lakes, with damaging effects on other species and on human health. The activities of humans have significantly altered the biosphere, changing or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many living species. [15]These changes also affect the viability of agriculture or fisheries to support human populations. Land use patterns for agriculture and ocean use patterns for fishing are affected not only by changes in population and needs but also by changes in climate or local conditions (such as desertification due to overuse or depletion of fish populations by overextraction).

Thus humans have become one of the most significant agents of change in the near-surface Earth system. And because all of Earth’s subsystems are interconnected, changes in one system can produce unforeseen changes in others.

Some negative effects of human activities are reversible with informed and responsible management. ….. Regulations regarding water and air pollution have greatly reduced acid rain and stream pollution, and international treaties on the use of certain refrigerant gases have halted the growth of the annual ozone hole over Antarctica. Regulation of fishing and the development of marine preserves can help restore and maintain fish populations. In addition, the development of alternative energy sources can reduce the environmental impacts otherwise caused by the use of fossil fuels.[16]

If this doesn’t give you pause then I don’t know what will.  Not only does it focus only on the negative effects humans have had and will continue to have but it also poses the solutions of regulations and international treaties!  Is that what Wyoming is about, regulations and international treaties as solutions to all our problems?

Recorded history, as well as chemical and geological evidence, indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air.

By the end of grade 5. Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments..…. regulating sources of pollution such as emissions from factories and power plants or the runoff from agricultural activities.

By the end of grade 8. Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many other species.

By the end of grade 12. When the source of an environmental problem is understood and international agreement can be reached, human activities can be regulated to mitigate global impacts (e.g., acid rain and the ozone hole near Antarctica).[17]

Hasn’t agriculture and industry been the catalyst for the progression of the human race?  Isn’t the farmer and rancher the first conversationalist?  They have done more in the way of sustaining human life through responsible farming and ranching practices.  They see the error of a practice quickly and change it just as quickly.  Natural resources are how they make a living, they would never intentionally do anything to compromise them in any way.  They continually look for ways to improve and protect the natural resources.

ESS3.D: GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s climate?

Global climate change, shown to be driven by both natural phenomena and by human activities, could have large consequences for all of Earth’s surface systems, including the biosphere (see ESS3.C for a general discussion of climate). Humans are now so numerous and resource dependent that their activities affect every part of the environment, from outer space and the stratosphere to the deepest ocean.[18]

By the end of grade 8. Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

By the end of grade 12. Global climate models are often used to understand the process of climate change because these changes are complex and can occur slowly over Earth’s history. Though the magnitudes of humans’ impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are humans’ abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts. Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities, as well as to changes in human activities. Thus science and engineering will be essential both to understanding the possible impacts of global climate change and to informing decisions about how to slow its rate and consequences—for humanity as well as for the rest of the planet.[19]

Global Warming whether you believe in it or not is only a theory, it is not fact.  There is science both for and against it and as such should never be taught in our schools as fact.  Schools should teach facts as facts and theories as theories!

ETS2.B: INFLUENCE OF ENGINEERING, TECHNOLOGY, AND SCIENCE ON SOCIETY AND THE NATURAL WORLD

How do science, engineering, and the technologies that result from them affect the ways in which people live? How do they affect the natural world?

From the earliest forms of agriculture to the latest technologies, all human activity has drawn on natural resources and has had both short- and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of both people and the natural environment. These consequences have grown stronger in recent human history. Society has changed dramatically, and human populations and longevity have increased…

Not only do science and engineering affect society, but society’s decisions (whether made through market forces or political processes) influence the work of scientists and engineers. These decisions sometimes establish goals and priorities for improving or replacing technologies; at other times they set limits, such as in regulating the extraction of raw materials or in setting allowable levels of pollution from mining, farming, and industry.[20]

By the end of grade 8. All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short- and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of both people and the natural environment.[21]

Do we want regulations as this says in extraction of raw materials or allowable levels of pollution from mining, farming and industry?

In reading through The Next Generation Science Standards although they are more comprehensive standards than what we now have in Wyoming, they are not conducive in my opinion to who we are in Wyoming.  The under tones of the human population being already overpopulated and that human impact on the Earth has been negative at best is simply WRONG!

I have intentionally copied and pasted every word in black directly from the WordPress website, from the “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas” as well as adding footnotes.  I want you to only have the facts!  In reading through this and spending hours and hours wading through misconceptions and someone else’s interpretations of what the standards were I was able to find what the facts are.  My intention in this is so that if you have any questions you will not have to go through all the hoops and unnecessary hours of time to look up the facts if you would like.   When it all came down to the nuts and bolts I learned that very, very few people in Wyoming have the facts, they frankly don’t have the time or know how to do what I spent weeks doing.  The bullet points that are published only give a small portion and many “in the know” or who should be, haven’t read through the standards themselves.

It is no secret that Wyoming is near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to our science standards and have been lacking for some time.  The consensus is that we all want better standards for the students of Wyoming.  What we don’t want is to hastily adopt standards written by people who don’t value the same things we do.  The people of Wyoming may not have “caught up” to the ideologies of the rest of the nation or the world, but is that what we really want.  Isn’t what makes Wyoming so special is that we believe in the “good ol’ boy” way of life?  We go against the grain, fight for what is right and true and never back down when it comes to our beliefs.  We believe in doing what’s right, in fact we didn’t just come to that but have lived it from the very beginning.  The farmers and ranchers of this country and Wyoming have led in innovation, conservation and the protection of our rights and freedoms.  Are we now going to let what our fore fathers fought with blood, sweat and tears for, to be trampled on each and every day in our schools?  Teaching the next generation that more government, more regulations, more international treaties, more involvement in our lives, taking away our freedoms is what is best for their future and ours.

I urge you to look carefully at these standards.  In fact don’t take my word for it research it for yourselves.  Contact me for any questions or more information.  More importantly once you have read the facts, if you don’t agree with these standards MAKE A STANCE!  If we do nothing they will be our standards.  They will be taught to the next generation and we will be to blame for doing nothing.

Briar Harris, Education Coordinator

Uinta County Conservation District

bharris@bvea.net


[1] 6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[2]  6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[3]  6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[4] 6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[5] 6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[6] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[7] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[8] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[9] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[10] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[11] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[12] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[13]  7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[14] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[15] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[16] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[17] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[18] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[19] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[20] 8 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[21] 8 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

WY LCSD#2 Publishes Letter to Legislators!

LCSD#2

An exciting development for our state and movement against education reform!  Lincoln County School District #2’s Board of Trustees and Chairman, Alan Linford, have written a letter to our state legislators.  The letter states they, “feel some decisions have been made, and others are currently being proposed, that remove elements of local control and limit our ability as a Board and district to best meet the needs of our students and stakeholders.” 

I am thrilled to hear a board make that statement rather than be resigned to the postion they are currently in with top-down education reform.  They are elected to speak for their communities, even if they feel like throwing their hands up and saying,”It’s out of our control!”   BRAVO!!  Read the letter below:

January 14, 2014

Dear State Legislators:
As a school board we appreciate the challenges associated with trying to ensure that all students in Wyoming receive the best possible education. Lincoln County School District #2 shares that goal, and prides itself on being a high performing district while adhering to local, state, and federal rules and regulations. Additionally, we recognize that the state of Wyoming generously funds education and understand the expected accountability that accompanies this funding. We appreciate the generous funding level and support being accountable for our educational outcomes. We feel some decisions have been made, and others are currently being proposed, that remove elements of local control and limit our ability as a Board and district to best meet the needs of our students and stakeholders.

From our perspective, requirements from the state and federal levels appear to be constantly increasing and changing. It is getting increasingly more difficult for a district of our size to comply with all of the state and federal requirements, while continuing to improve outcomes for students. While we respect your role as legislators, we also value local control which enables us to meet the expectations of our stakeholders. We ask that you please consider our concerns in the upcoming legslative session.
We are also concerned about the ever-changing targets that we as a local district are facing. It seems like we are in a constant state of flux when it comes to standards, assessment, accountability, and other educational issues. We ask that you set direction, with input from all stakeholders, and then hold the course so that we have time to implement the things you are requiring. It is very taxing and counter-productive when we try to respond to state and federal mandates only to have them change before we complete the journey. While we wish to meet your high expectations, which often align with our own, it is increasingly difficult when the expectations change frequently.

Some of our stakeholders have some additional concerns that we would like you be be aware of. They are listed below.

• Data Privacy: Data should be strictly confidential and should only be shared within the state for education related purposes by those with a need-to-know-basis. It is imperative that personally identifiable information not be revealed or accessed by those outside of our school, district, or state.

• Top-down Approach: Intrusion from outside entities is an obstacle to improving educational outcomes in our district. The solution is not more top-down intrusion, no matter how well-intentioned, from any level of government.

• Stakeholder Involvement: Parents and other stakeholders want to continue to have a high-level of involvment in the decision-making process when it comes to educating our children.

Once again, we acknowledge the generosity with which you fund schools. We will continue to make every effort to provide our students with the world-class education that they deserve. Thanks for your consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,
Lincoln County School District #2 Board of Trustees
Alan Linford, Chairman

Jackson Hole Event Forum Jan. 28th at Snow King Resort

 WHAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD ABOUT COMMON CORE

TRACKING YOUR CHILDREN  FROM PRE-K INTO THE WORKFORCE

WYOMING STUDENTS ARE NOT  COMMON

Your Child Is Not Common

Understand the Growing Opposition to Common Core

Girl with Barcode on Foot KNOW WHAT YOU ARE UP AGAINST AND WHAT YOU CAN DO T0 STOP IT

Snow King Resort

Teton Room

6:15PM

January 28, 2014

SPEAKERS

                                                                  Amy Edmonds  – Wyoming Liberty Group

                                                                  Alisa Ellis – Utahns Against Common Core

                                                                 Christy Hooley – Wyoming Teacher

                                                       Kelly Simone – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

Presented by  Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole

ADMISSION FREE

A donation of any amount to help cover expenses will be appreciated.

 

Sign THIS Letter for NO NGSS in Your School District!!

SAY NO to NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The State School Board in Wyoming is looking at adopting a set of science standards for public
school students that are concerning. Many people around Wyoming have let the State Board know that they do not want these standards adopted for our kids, but it still looks like they will accept them anyway.

Your local district has the opportunity to  let the State Board know that these are
not the right choice of Wyoming.

Please consider signing this letter asking our local School Board
to take a stance.

If you and your spouse share the same email address, please list “Joe & Jane” in the first name column.

The program only allows an email to be used once.

Click on your district to read and sign the letter.

Sweetwater County School District #1

Sweetwater County School District #2

Park County School District 1

Park County School District 6

Campell County 1

Teton County 1

If your county is not available please email:

contact@wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com

Hear Two Wyoming Moms on “Speak Your Piece” Discuss Common Core

BigHornNetwork

On January 10th, two mothers from Wyoming discussed the Common Core State Standards during the “Speak Your Piece” program on the Big Horn Radio Network.    I am grateful to warrior moms that are willing to make this a priority and do something that is out of their comfort zone!  Way to go Kelly and Erin!  Thank you for speaking out and voicing the opinions and concerns of many other mother’s across this state and country!

Please listen and share –>HERE!

Letter to School Board Members on Data and Privacy

Below is the letter that I read to the Board of Trustees for Sweetwater County School District Number One. This is something that ALL parents and community members should be aware of and concerned about. Our local school boards will be entering into an agreement (MOU) that they have not officially agreed too. In doing so, they are giving away their power to represnt YOU as parents and community members, especially when it comes to your children’s data. We aren’t talking about the data they have always taken on our children.  This is a statewide inter-operable (shares with other agencies) system that will share ALL information that could include a health record or disciplinary record from P20 (preschool through college and the workforce) system.

You may read the letter below or listen to me present to the board in the video recording my husband took (forgive the amateur video – but the sound system is great!)

Board Members,

My name is Christy Hooley and I am a teacher from Sweetwater County School District #2.  I taught both 5th and 6th grade at Monroe Intermediate School.   I recently resigned my position to focus on an issue that is dear to my heart, the Common Core State Standards and the various issues it brings to teachers and students across our state and nation.  In doing so I have found others that have the same concerns, and I stand here representing the group, Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core.

One of these key issues that comes along with the CCSS is the creation of the State Longitudinal Database that will be inter-operable with other agencies.   Due to some questions arising from this concern the Wyoming Department of Education released a document entitled “Data Governance” for districts to distribute to parents concerned about data. The document covers four “Commonly Asked Questions about Student Data”.  While I appreciate the effort of the WDE to be both transparent and informative, the document does not cover many key issues, nor does it provide any links or references as to fact check sources.

These issues should be addressed and communicated to parents in our community as well as around the state. The creation of the State Longitudinal Data System is a key issue in education reform, and parents have many questions surrounding its creation and use.  Please look over the MOU (memorandum of understanding), which is an agreement between 20+ state agencies to begin sharing student data via the State Longitudinal Data System.  You will find that it states, The creation of the P20 SLDS is called for in the 2012 Legislative Session Enrolled Act 29 Section 326. The creation of P20 SLDS and data sharing shall fulfill the requirements established by the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act”

 Basically, what you have in front of you, to the best mine and our group’s knowledge is… that all of the data that is collected by the local school districts, which you represent, will go into this system.  The Department of Ed is going to sign for you…in doing so you stating that all  agencies listed can receive information.  This is a serious local control issue, this document says districts are required to collect this information, but you are not required to sign this agreement.   This is the information on our kids and families, and it is not just being distributed to every educational entity in the state of Wyoming, but to Department of Workforce Services, Department of Family Services, Department of Health, and any other agency they deem.  This is something that should be brought to the public’s attention as well as our representatives.  I implore that you make this a priority quickly!

As you may be aware I have been giving presentations in our community and around our state concerning education reform and its most recent reform with the Common Core State Standards.  I am often asked questions that I cannot answer by concerned parents.  You are elected to represent our community, and should know the concerns that I’m often approached with.  I would like to give you an opportunity to address these concerns.

 These are questions that I would pose as “Commonly Asked” by parents in our district and across our state:

1) What is the purpose of the State Longitudinal Data System?

2) The recent changes to FERPA by the US Department of Education has allowed for sharing of student data in the SLDS. What state agencies will now be sharing student data?

3) What data dictionary will be used to collect student data from the districts to the WDE for the SLDS?

4) How are parents notified of what data will be collected from their student at the district level and sent to the state?

5) How does WDE notify parents if a data breach occurs?

6) What legal recourse/penalties does an agency face in the event of a data breach on a child’s educational record?

7) How long is student data stored, and how is it destroyed once it is no longer needed?

8) What third party entities have access to student data via the SLDS?

This is the heart of the concerns that parents have about data being collected on their children. The recent changes to FERPA undermine parental consent provisions. It is my understanding that there is not currently Wyoming law that outlines data breach reporting requirements or penalties in the event that a breach occurs. I would ask you as a board to seek answers to these questions from the WDE Data Governance Contacts.

Furthermore, I would ask that you familiarize yourself with the Privacy Bill known as Senate File 36 that was discussed by the Committee on Statewide Education Accountability on Dec. 10th.  It does not include the SLDS, and therefore does not do enough to protect our children’s data. If a health record becomes part of a student’s educational file, it is no longer protected. I would recommend that all student disciplinary and health records be exempt from educational records and remain confidential under all circumstances.

I am not suggesting that Wyoming is sharing this data currently, however there is nothing strong preventing them from doing so, plus school systems are moving more and more to commonality and disaggregating (personally identifiable) student data.  This can be seen by all those partnered with the Data Quality Campaign and policies held by the Council of Chief State School Officers. 

I invite each one of you to attend my next presentation, so you may also become informed on both sides of the education reform issues and better understand the questions and concerns parents may come to you with.  I will be presenting next on January 24th at 7PM at the Green River Library and again at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs on January 30th, at 7PM.

I hope to hear back from you concerning this extremely important issue.

Thank you,

Christy Hooley

www.wyomingagainstcommoncore.wordpress.com

www.wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com