Video: How Corporations and Big Government Collaborate

The Heritage Foundation this morning hosted a panel discussion with Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins with American Principles Project and Erin Tuttle with Hoosiers Against Common Core to discuss their book Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty.

Recent congressional hearings on social media regulation are yet another reminder of the seemingly unceasing expansion of the administrative state. In their new book, McGroarty, Robbins, and Tuttle examine the political philosophy and tactics behind this “seismic shift” of power from the people to unaccountable technocrats.

This morning’s panel discussed how corporate America is complicit in this expansion which is something we have noticed with Common Core and the push to replace classical education and the well-rounded education it provides with workforce development and career pathways.

You can watch the entire panel discussion below:

Coalition Calls on Congress to Rewrite FERPA

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

On Tuesday, American Principles Project and individuals from more than 100 organizations including Education Liberty Watch and Eagle Forum called on Congress to rewrite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In a letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee, they implored Congress to recognize that citizens have a property interest in their personal data and that Congress should protect that interest.

“Personal data collection without consent is an affront to freedom,” said Emmett McGroarty, senior fellow at American Principles Project and co-author of the new book, Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty. “The federal government has no right or authority to vacuum up mountains of personal data on its citizens without their consent, with only the vague intent to “help” them or others make decisions. This is especially true for children.”

The APP-led coaltion submitted five recommendations for the FERPA rewrite:

  1. Do whatever is possible to decrease the amount of data collected on students, especially social-emotional learning (SEL) data. Collection of such data should be eliminated or at the very least a) not collected without informed opt-in parental consent and b) be treated as medical data.

  2. Treat whatever mental health, social emotional, or behavioral data collected for special-education evaluations or any other related program, such as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), as medical data that cannot be housed in longitudinal databases.

  3. Use aggregate rather than individual data to the greatest extent possible.

  4. Obtain parental consent if data collected for one purpose is to be repurposed or shared with another federal agency.

  5. Eliminate the current language in FERPA allowing predictive testing.

Read the letter below:

Disclosure: Our editor, Shane Vander Hart, is a signatory of this letter.

Emmett McGroarty Testifies on Student Data Collection

Emmett McGroarty, education director at American Principles Project, testified today before the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking about student data collection.

You can watch his testimony below (it should be queued up, but if not go to 2:45:48).


“Noncognitive” Factors: Are they Fair Game for Data Collection and Instruction?

In February 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft of Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century. To many who were aware of this report, it was alarming and controversial. In the summary of this report it says. “There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.” It seems typical that when the U.S. Department of Education releases a report like this the groundwork has already been laid for implementation of the ideas, if they have not already been embedded into existing and newly proposed practice. (this report does not seem to be available on the website anymore)

The Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA S227) would allow for the collection of data on “noncognitive” factors like those mentioned in the summary (see above). Karen Effrem has done a wonderful job of presenting issues and recommendations for SETRA in the brief she has prepared called Issues of Data Privacy, Parental Rights, and Federally Sponsored Psychological Screening in the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA)/Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) in the Context of Current Federal Law and Programs. Karen Effrem, M.D., is the president of Education Liberty Watch and Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. She identifies and expands on four major issues and makes recommendations about them. The four major issues she addresses in this document are:

  1. SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children.
  2. SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
  3. There is continued reliance on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA.
  4. Reliance on PPRA that allows sensitive data prohibited in surveys to be collected in curriculum and assessments.

The Summary Response to the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee March Hearing “Strengthening Research and Privacy Protections to Better Serve Students” is a brief summary that Karen has prepared.

A one page handout has been prepared for people to download and share. This one pager is a good initial attention getter that may be followed up with Karen Effrem’s brief.

You should be able to download a pdf copy of this one pager by clicking in the upper right hand corner of the document or by clicking here.

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) intends to begin assessing “noncognitive” factors. To do so, they will collect data on socio-economic status, technology use, school climate, grit, and desire for learning. The NAEP is making a leap from gathering academic content knowledge data to gathering “noncognitive” data. In making this move to gather data on “mindsets” that could be used for psychological profiling, NAEP will likely be in violation of federal law. For more information about this, you are encouraged to read the letter RE: Proposed National Education Assessment Plan and student/parental rights that the Liberty Counsel has addressed to Dr. Karen Effrem.

There seems to be a whole industry involved in the collection, storage, and sharing of student data, including “noncognitive” factors. Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins have written an article called The War on Student Privacy that features some of the players in this industry.

The education system, legislative bodies, government agencies, and industry all seem to think and act as if they are entitled to student data, including student-level (personally identifiable information) and “noncognitive” factors. Are student data, including student-level (personally identifiable information) and “noncognitive” factors really fair game? Many parents would not think so.


Common Core Led to Jeb Bush’s Downfall

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

After the results of the South Carolina Primary were released former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who finished a distant 4th in the First in the South Primary, announced that he was suspending his campaign.

Yes this is the same Bush who was thought to be the likely presidential nominee of the Republican Party who prior to announcing he was running for President raised over $100 million for his Super PAC.

What happened? Bush certainly was caught up in the anti-establishment wave that has carried Donald Trump. His position on immigration have hurt him as well, but his position on Common Core was a deal breaker for many throughout the party.

Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project released the following statement:

From the very beginning, Governor Bush’s stubborn support for the low-quality Common Core standards permanently damaged his credibility with voters – and not just with conservatives but with voters across the political spectrum.  

Let Governor Bush’s fate be a lesson for all politicians – voters want to see politicians not only oppose Common Core but actively work to eliminate it and return control of education to local and state government.

Politicians – and it doesn’t matter which party – who fail to fight Common Core will be severely handicapping themselves on Election Day.

McGroarty more than a year ago predicted that Bush would not be electable. From The Washington Post:

Though conservatives oppose the Common Core, general polling has not produced a clear picture of how most Americans feel about the standards. Nevertheless, Emmett McGroarty, a lawyer for the American Principles Project, said Thursday that a pro-Common Core Republican presidential nominee would be “unelectable” in 2016. McGroarty’s warning was a not-so-veiled reference to former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a strong supporter of the Common Core.

Only five GOP candidates remain. Here were their grades on American Principles Project’s Common Core report card, published in August of last year: 

U.S. Senate Passes the Every Child Achieves Act 81-17

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

Photo credit: FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Public Domain)

The U.S. Senate passed S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, on a 81 to 17 vote on Thursday afternoon spending seven days debating the bill.

The concerns addressed by American Principles in Action and others were largely not remedied by the amendment process.  On Wednesday an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) fixed an omission of a key privacy and parental rights protection. Specifically, ECAA had omitted the requirement that the federally dictated statewide standardized tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information.”

Emmett McGroarty, director of education for American Principles in Action said in a released statement on Thursday prior to the final vote, “This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children.”

The U.S. Senate also voted down amendments by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have affirmed a parent’s right to opt their students out from assessments, and an amendment from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would have gutted the federal testing mandate.  Amendments proposed by U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Steve Daines (R-MT) that would have restored more local and state control also failed.

Several education policy experts are not pleased with the bill.

“This proposal does little if anything to restore state and local control of education. Moreover, it sets the stage for increased federal spending in the near future. The amendment included from Sen. Burr to change the funding formula for Title I does so once funding for the Title increases to $17 billion – nearly $3 billion over where it currently stands – likely creating momentum to increase spending in the near-term in order to achieve the funding change,” Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education, at the Heritage Foundation told Truth in American Education.

“The proposal still dictates testing schedules to states, maintains a labyrinth of federal programs, and perpetuates the notion that education dollars are best earmarked for school districts instead of students. It was, and remains, a huge missed opportunity for conservatives to restore dollars and decision-making to those closer situated to students,” Burke added.

“It is unfortunate that civil rights groups seem to think that billions of dollars for the education of low-income children will be useful, when in 50 years, the needle hasn’t moved in reading.  And the needle won’t move, so long as re-authorizations of ESEA allow the bulk of Title I money to be spent on the costs associated with hiring academically underqualified Reading teachers and aides.  Why civil rights groups think that is a quid pro quo, they need to explain to those of us who think low-income children would benefit from academically qualified teachers,” retired University of Arkansas professor of education reform Sandra Stotsky said in a statement made to Truth in American Education.

“I think two things are clear from the bill’s passage. First, it’s clear that politicians don’t feel safe rolling back the federal role in education. Some of them tell us they believe in this, but most of them don’t actually do it. So voters need to start holding them accountable, with all the usual means: Asking cranky questions in townhalls, calling their offices when votes like this come up, and primarying them if they don’t respond,” Joy Pullmann, education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, told Truth in American Education.

“Second, I also think it’s clear that politicians feel safe ignoring their constituents’ desires on education. Look, both the left and the right want testing reduced and real data privacy protections enacted. These are bipartisan issues. But our bipartisan leaders aren’t listening. They should pay for that. If they don’t, well, it’s clear they’re right: That voters don’t really care about education, so we’re going to let the kleptocracy continue to run everything from Washington,” Pullmann added.

The roll call of the vote:

YEAs —81
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Capito (R-WV)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Franken (D-MN)
Gardner (R-CO)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lankford (R-OK)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Perdue (R-GA)
Peters (D-MI)
Portman (R-OH)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —17
Blunt (R-MO)
Booker (D-NJ)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Flake (R-AZ)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warren (D-MA)
Not Voting – 2
Graham (R-SC) Nelson (D-FL)

Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholds Common Core Repeal


The Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed what most of us already knew; yes the Oklahoma State Legislature can repeal education standards.  What hubris do you have to have to think otherwise?

The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 to uphold the the repeal that Governor Fallin signed into law last month.  They only took four hours to deliberate.

Breitbart News had some reaction:

Oklahoma state Rep. Jason Nelson (R), however, asserted the bill that repealed the Common Core standards in Oklahoma is constitutional.

“The Supreme Court made the right decision today. I thought the justices asked great questions, hitting all the salient points during the hearing this morning, and I felt good about our case after the hearing,” Nelson told Breitbart News. “The arguments in favor of the constitutionality of the law are strong and left little doubt that the decision would be favorable. I’ve believed from the beginning that this legal challenge was baseless and have said so since it was filed.”

“I’m grateful to Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his staff, specifically Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick and Assistant Solicitor General Cara Rodriguez, for their outstanding legal defense of this legislative action,” Nelson said. “I’m also grateful to those individuals and organizations who voluntarily offered their perspectives to the Court by filing legal briefs in defense of the law.”

“The Court’s opinion today removes any uncertainty,” he added. “Based on the many educators I know personally I have no doubt that Oklahoma’s teachers are more than capable of making the necessary adjustments and will be more than ready when children, mine included, begin showing up after the summer break.”

Emmett McGroarty, education director at the American Principles Project, spoke to Breitbart News about the significance of the Oklahoma high court’s ruling.

“Today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has upheld the power of the legislature to set education policy. In so doing, it has quashed the problematic, Progressive idea that the state board of education is vested with both legislative and executive powers,” McGroarty said. “The ruling today also re-affirms the doctrine of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances on which our constitutional structure rests.”

Jenni White, parent and president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.), told Breitbart News that the state’s Supreme Court ruling is really a win for local education.

“The ruling is a stunning victory for local education and a defeat for bureaucracy,” White said. “Hopefully, states will ultimately work toward having elected state boards of education who can be voted out if they make decisions that are against the best interests of our students.”

“What’s also important about this ruling is that parents can see that they can influence this process,” White added.

Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing

imagePioneer Institute released another White Paper by Emmett McGroarty (Director of APP Education, American Principles Project), Joy Pullmann (managing editor of School Reform News and Research Fellow, Heartland Institute), and Jane Robbins (Senior Fellow, American Principles Project).

Their synopsis: New technology allows advocates for education as workforce development to accomplish what has long been out of their reach: the collection of data on every child, beginning with preschool or even earlier, and using that data to track the child throughout his/her academic career and his/her progression through the workforce. This paper explores the many initiatives that the federal government has worked with private entities to design and encourage states to participate in, in order to increase the collection and sharing of student data, while relaxing privacy protections. The authors offer recommendations to protect student privacy, including urging parents to ask what kinds of information are being collected on digital-learning platforms and whether the software will record data about their children’s behaviors and attitudes rather than just academic knowledge. If parents object to such data-collection, they should opt out. The authors also urge state lawmakers to pass student privacy laws, and they recommend that Congress correct the 2013 relaxation of FERPA.

You can read it below or download it here.

NGA Chair Gov. Mary Fallin Target of Campaign to End Common Core

Gov-Fallin-1American Principles Project, Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, Home School Legal Defense Association and several other grassroots conservative groups launched a campaign urging the Chair of the National Governors Association, Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK), to end the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  The NGA, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers, are co-owners of the copyright to the Common Core.

Fallin is facing a Common Core repeal bill that has passed both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature with an amended version that will need to be considered.  Governor Fallin has indicated that she is keeping an open mind about the bill, but it would put her in a strange position being chair of the NGA.

The letter has been signed by some of the leading figures in the fight to stop the Common Core State Standards such as Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins of American Principles Project, Phyllis Schlafly the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, Jamie Gass and Jim Stergois of the Pioneer Institute, syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute, Michael Farris of  and Stacy Mott the Founder and President of Smart Girl Politics Action.

The letter to Fallin states in part:

NGA’s activities, including its ownership, development and propagation of the Common Core,have caused profound harm to our constitutional structure.  NGA has enabled corporations and other private interests to drive education policy and, concomitantly, compromised the power of parents.  It has enlisted the power of the federal government to bring about these changes and, in so doing, has weakened the power of states to defend the authority and rights of parents and other citizens.

More specifically, NGA has assisted the federal government in employing a strategy against the states that has divided and conquered the state checks and balances that are intended to guard against federal overreach.  It has presided over the development of math standards that lock children into a defective education, one that does not prepare children for studies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or for admission to competitive public and private universities.  It has presided over the development of English standards that fail to prepare children for authentic college work in the humanities and that weaken the formation of strong citizen-leaders and individuals of substance who are fully capable of exercising their liberties.

The pushback against the Common Core rests on parents’ love for their children and their defense of the Constitution that protects their rights to form their children and direct their education.  It is a movement based on truth, and on highly informed citizens –citizens who follow in the footsteps of the Founders.  It is a movement that continues to grow and which will be victorious.

The letter is being sent along with a 13-page statement addressing the unconstitutionality of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Emmett McGroarty, Director of APP Education, with American Principles Project in a released statement said, “The American people know that government has drifted away from them and no longer responds to their will,” said APP Education Director Emmett McGroarty. “This letter details how state government has been turned into the tool of the federal executive branch, rather than responding to the will of the people.”

McGroarty continued, “Governor Fallin, though, has a wonderful opportunity to stand up for the American people and the Constitution that is intended to protect their rights, including their right to have a say in what their children learn and who teaches it to them.”

Parents, teachers and community members are encouraged to add their names to the letter here.

Cross-posted from Caffeinated Thoughts.

Education Reform Should Be Geared Towards Parents, Not Business

Rex Tillerson CEO of Exxon Mobil Uses bully tactics to  advance Common Core.

Rex Tillerson
CEO of Exxon Mobil
Uses bully tactics to advance Common Core.

By Emmett McGroarty & Jane Robbins

Sometimes a combatant in an ideological struggle says something that is refreshing, if disturbing, in its honesty. Such a declaration came recently from Billy Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama. In explaining why legislators should embrace the Common Core, Mr. Canary said, “The business community is by far the biggest consumer of the product created by our education system.”

How revealing. In 17 words, Mr. Canary encapsulated the education philosophy underlying the national Common Core standards. The education system does not exist to develop citizens fully capable of exercising their liberties and directing government. It does not exist to help children understand others – something that is critical to professionals, entrepreneurs, and all who seek an upward trajectory in life and career. Rather, it is an assembly line spitting out “products.” Those “products” are not unique individuals, but rather cogs in a managed economic machine. And the educational process should be controlled not by the parents, but by the largest “consumer” of the “products” – Big Business.

Mr. Canary’s comment is not an isolated muttering. It echoes the view of Allan Golston, president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s United States program, which has poured an estimated $173.5 million into promoting the Common Core.

In a flailing attempt to secure its human product, a Big Business cabal, spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable launched a national advertising blitz targeted at Republicans who might be listening too much to parents. This is nothing new. To save Common Core, Big Business has already tried high-powered lobbying and massive advertising, and made hundreds of millions of dollars in grants. It has argued, risibly, that Common Core is a matter of national security.  It has funded states. It has even leveled veiled threats at governors and legislators that it will boycott states that exit Common Core.

What has Big Business so worried?

The people have pulled the curtain back on Common Core. Parents vehemently oppose Common Core because it silences their voice and locks their children into an education of poor quality. “Politicians take note: We will fight Common Core to its extinction,” warns mother and national grassroots leader Jenni White of Oklahoma. “It rests on a demeaning view of children and their parents.”

Parents detest Common Core because it increases the distance between them and the ultimate decision-makers on what children learn and how it is taught. National standards require a national system of control. Private entities financed, developed, and own Common Core, and they asked the federal government to push the national standards onto the states. In such a system, to whom does a parent complain when she notices, as mom Suzaanne Sherby testified before the Indiana legislature, a new math program with a “marked and very obvious lack of basic arithmetic”?

Mrs. Sherby’s predicament results from Common Core’s reintroduction of “fuzzy math” – a discredited fad nowhere to be found in serious math programs, such as those employed by our most successful international competitors. Even the architect of the math standards, Jason Zimba, has admitted that Common Core not only fails to prepare students for studies in science, technology, engineering, and math but even fails to prepare them for admission to selective public and private universities. Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University, the Common Core Validation Committee’s only mathematician (as opposed to math-education professor), rejected the standards because he concluded they would leave American students at least two years behind their counterparts in the highest-achieving nations by 8th grade.

With respect to English language arts, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, this country’s premier authority on English standards, criticizes Common Core as “empty skill sets … [that] weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” Common Core slashes the amount of classic fiction taught in ELA class in favor of nonfiction “informational texts.” If Paradise Lost won’t be used at one’s entry-level job, let’s not waste time on it now.

Why would Big Business embrace such drivel? Don’t these corporate groups realize that dumbing down education even further (for evidence, see the new Common Core-aligned, much easier SAT) will be bad for business? Apparently not. The Gates Foundation assures them (while writing a generous check) that Common Core will produce workers they don’t have to train. And of course, many large companies will profit directly from the national standardization of education.

For the targeted governors and legislators, it’s decision time. On one side are the Republican grassroots, which have expressed their opposition to Common Core through a unanimous national RNC resolution and dozens of state and local resolutions. On the other side is Big Business, with all its financial clout. We’ll soon find out who really matters to the Republican Party: parents defending their children and their future, or Big Business trying to line up its supply of human products.

Emmett McGroarty is the Director of Education at American Principles Project, Jane Robbins is a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.

Originally posted at Daily Caller, cross-posted with permission from the authors.