FEPA HR4174 “Increasing access to data for evidence”

Here is another meme.  Feel free to share this far and wide.


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Student “Privacy Protection” Act Punching Holes in FERPA

Please feel free to share this graphic far and wide as soon as possible.  FEPA is scheduled tomorrow for a vote, Wed., Nov. 15, 2017.


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Urgent Action Request: HR 4174/S 2046, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA), is scheduled for a vote this Wednesday! We must act quickly to defeat it! A one-pager with the information provided below can be be downloaded here.
 Here’s what you can do:
1) If you’re affiliated with an organization, please read the information provided below and consider signing on as an organization. (Individual signatures are not being asked for. Click here to add your organization.  Share this information with as many groups as possible via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.  Feel free to repost the blog.
2) Distribute this information to your networks and ask people to call their member of Congress, particularly if he or she is on the House Education and Workforce Committee: https://edworkforce.house.gov/committee/subcommitteesjurisdictions.htm
The number for Congress is 202.224.3121.



HR 4174/S 2046,[1] the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA), introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray, is another federal bill that will increase 1) the non-consensual surveillance of free-born American citizens, and 2) the probability of a comprehensive national database on every American. This legislation responds to the report[2] by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP),[3] an entity created by FEPA’s authors. The justification is to monitor the effectiveness of federal programs, but deep problems with the bill outweigh any possible benefits:

  • FEPA mandates that every federal agency create an “evidence building” (data-mining) plan that must include “a list of . . . questions for which the agency intends to develop evidence to support policymaking” and “a list of data the agency intends to collect, use, or acquire to facilitate the use of evidence in policymaking.” This would allow any bureaucrats to propose to collect any data on any citizen on any topic they want, to answer their desired policy questions. 
  • Each agency is also directed to create “…a list of any challenges” to this goal, including “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data.” This responds to CEP’s recommendation that “Congress and the President should consider repealing current bans and limiting future bans on the collection and use of data for evidence building.”  This recommendation presumably covers the student unit-record prohibition[4] and the prohibition[5] on creating a national K-12 student database.[6]
  • The Director of the Office of Management and Budget must then use all these evidence-building (data-mining) plans to develop “a unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government. Although the public must be “consulted,” and lip service is paid to issues of privacy and confidentiality of data, these are only items to be considered. There are no actual prohibitions on proceeding with data collection, regardless of the sensitivity of the data.
  • The federal government is demonstrably incompetent at data security; moreover, the government routinely ignores the overwhelming data it already has that shows the ineffectiveness of many (most) federal programs.[7] There is no reason to believe an even more enormous trove of data can be secured, or that it will actually change government behavior in any meaningful way.
  • Most importantly, collecting and holding massive amounts of data about an individual has an intimidating effect on the individual—even if the data is never used. This fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. Citizen direction of government cannot happen when government sits in a position of intimidation of the individual.[8]

A bill like FEPA would be expected from a totalitarian government.[9] Congress should solve the “program effectiveness” problem by returning to the Founders’ vision and drastically reducing government’s bloated size and scope. This solution would obviate the need for the Orwellian surveillance scheme initiated by FEPA.

[1] http://bit.ly/2ynay2e

[2] https://www.cep.gov/cep-final-report.html

[3] https://www.cep.gov

[4] https://thenationalpulse.com/commentary/congressman-wants-more-federal-data-mining-parents-fooled/

[5] https://www.hslda.org/docs/news/ESEA_No_Database.pdf

[6] https://townhall.com/columnists/emmettmcgroarty/2017/09/18/congressional-panel-wants-to-create-massive-citizen-database-but-dont-worry-its-bipartisan-n2383107

[7] https://www.cep.gov/content/dam/cep/events/2017-02-09/2017-2-9-effrem.pdf

[8] http://bit.ly/2m9Dkln

[9] http://wapo.st/2m8KNkG


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The Big Congressional Data Grab Is Underway

This article is reposted here from Truth in American Education with permission from the author, Shane Vander Hart.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Foundations for Evidenced-Based Policymaking Act today which will create a national data clearinghouse that includes student data. Co-sponsors of the legislation also include House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).

This bill follows the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking’s final report who recommended what Ryan argued for “a transparent, efficient, and well-designed data system that is both accessible by federal agencies and secure for those who contribute.”

The key takeaways from the report are:

  • Security, Privacy, and Confidentiality: The report outlines recommendations for improving access to data that protects peoples’ privacy without sacrificing the information sought in the process. The commission also outlines protections to modernize the process. This means Americans enrolled in government programs can maintain their privacy while benefitting the greater goal.
  • Modernizing Data Infrastructure: The commission recommends building upon and enhancing the expertise and infrastructure to ensure secure record linkage and data access. This would increase transparency and better enable policymakers—and the public—to hold government programs accountable.
  • Strengthened Capacity: Privacy and accessibility are key, but so is ensuring the evidence-building community has the manpower it needs. By establishing administrative and program requirements within the federal government, evidence-based efforts will become a central part of both evaluating current programs and policies of the future.

Below is the summary for the bill:

Summary: The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act

Title I, Federal Evidence-Building Activities

  • Requires federal agencies to submit an evidence-building plan, which will be consolidated into one government-wide plan by the Office of Management and Budget
  • Requires federal agencies to appoint/designate a Chief Evaluation Officer to coordinate evidence-building activities within the agency
  • Establishes an advisory committee on data for evidence building

Title II, OPEN Government Act

  • Ensures maximum data availability while respecting privacy and national security concerns
  • Requires federal agencies to appoint/designate a Chief Data Officer
  • Instructs federal agencies to establish a data inventory and federal data catalogue

Title III, Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency

  • Expands access to data while improving privacy standards

Jane Robbins warned about what was coming down the pike in March:

The vehicle for imposing expanded citizen surveillance is a new federal panel called the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The Speaker worked with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on the legislation to create the Commission, which “is charged with reviewing the inventory, infrastructure, and protocols related to data from federal programs and tax expenditures while developing recommendations for increasing the availability and use of this data in support of rigorous program evaluation.”

The appeal of this Commission to “conservatives” is that it will recommend ways to evaluate federal programs and see which ones work and which are a waste of money We need a commission for this? If we just assume all federal programs are a waste, we’ll be right at least 95 percent of the time. And the federal government routinely ignores research, such as the massive evidence that Head Start is useless, that doesn’t support its preferred policies.

But “program evaluation” is the excuse. And the basis of the Commission’s work will be expanded sharing of personal data on American citizens. In a free society, that’s a price too high to pay.

The bill gives lip service to privacy and security, but in the same breath says it will expand access to the data it collects.

“Privacy and security” I don’t think means what they think it means.

The Big Congressional Data Grab is underway

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart is one of the administrators and frequent writer at Truth in American Education and an advocate with this network of grassroots activists this website represents.   He is the editor of Caffeinated Thoughts, a popular conservative Christian multi-contributor website based in Iowa that focuses on state and national politics, culture, current events, and faith.  He is cofounder of Iowa RestorEd, a grassroots group that wants to restore Iowa’s place at the top U.S. K-12 education.  Shane also is the online communications director for American Principles Project.  Feel free to follow Shane on Facebook, Twitter, or on Google Plus.


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USDoE’s Digital Promise and Facebook team up for student databadges and Gates funded DQC group is lobbying Congress to weaken FERPA, again.

The following article was originally posted on the Missouri Education Watchdog.  It is reposted here with permission from the author, Cheri Kiesecker.

Trick or treat Two-fer today.

The Data Quality Campaign, funded by Bill Gates is lobbying Congress to further weaken FERPA.  You can and SHOULD read all about that here.  We urge you to call or email your Congressman and Reps Todd Rokita (IN), Paul Mitchell (MI) to tell them NO.  Stop sharing students’ personal data with researchers and marketers, corporations and “nonprofits”  without parental consent.  We need to fix FERPA, strengthen student data protection and privacy, not further weaken it.  Please do take the time to read this and send an email.   Thanks.


Now, onto the mega announcement made today on Tom Vander Arks’  Getting Smart blog, that Digital Promise is working with Facebook to develop student data badges.  We have written about student micro credentials (also called data badges) here and here and NEPC wrote about them here.   As for Digital Promise, we wrote about how Digital Promise is a nonprofit created by the US Department of Ed, they have a global arm and they promote Schools of Innovation, competency based ed, data badges, Relay Grad School to name a few.   So, this new announcement shouldn’t be a surprise; it will no doubt be a wonderful data collection and marketing tool for Facebook and the US Department of Ed, but it is incredibly alarming for students’ privacy and security.


We have reposted the getting smart announcement below.

October 30, 2017  By  getting smart staff

Digital skills are skyrocketing in demand, and that is a trend that will only continue to increase in impact. More than 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs (82%) require digital skills, and tech companies everywhere often have trouble finding candidates with the right know-how.

One recently announced effort to address this challenge that has us excited is Digital Promise’s partnership with Facebook, in which the two groups have collaborated to create a set of micro-credentials (a form of digital badges) focused on helping adults in the workforce learn these “middle” skills in the area of digital marketing.

We think that this new set of micro-credentials, the pursuit of which will include successive series of in-person workshops organized and implemented by local partners (Digital Promise will train organizations across the state of Michigan to deliver the workshops to their local communities starting in November), is a great way to address the challenge of reaching those who need this type of adult education the most.

Facebook has pledged to train 3,000 Michiganders in digital skills focused on social media over the next two years through these workshops. In the workshop, students will learn some of the basics of social media marketing, and have the opportunity to earn four micro-credentials that demonstrate the skills they have learned:

  • Social Media Marketing Basics
  • Marketing with Facebook Pages
  • Marketing with Facebook Ads
  • Marketing with Instagram

Over four weeks, students will develop a Facebook page and Instagram account for a local community organization or business of their choice; use that page to create awareness, drive traffic, and/or attract customers; and create advertising campaigns in support of that page. We think this approach is exactly the kind of authentic, real-world PBL that will encourage adults to seek these new skills.

In our recent analysis of adult entrepreneurship education (a big upcoming trend), we found that a lack of respected micro-credentials was one of the biggest missing components of entrepreneurship education. The program being developed by Digital Promise and Facebook appears set to provide a model for those looking to address this challenge. Our team is looking forward from hearing more from Digital Promise when we attend EdSurge Fusion later this week.

For more, see:

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The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education

In a post called Ethical Use of Big Data in Education, Elana Zeide was featured in a very informative video addressing the topic of the post.  She has written a power packed article called The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education.  You can download the article by clicking here or you can read the article online by clicking here.

These three main points are clearly laid out in the abstract. (bolded for emphasis)

First, virtual learning environments create information technology infrastructures featuring constant data collection, continuous algorithmic assessment, and possibly infinite record retention. This undermines the traditional intellectual privacy and safety of classrooms.

Second, these systems displace pedagogical decision-making from educators serving public interests to private, often for-profit, technology providers. They constrain teachers’ academic autonomy, obscure student evaluation, and reduce parents’ and students’ ability to participate or challenge education decision- making.

Third, big data-driven tools define what ‘‘counts’’ as education by mapping the concepts, creating the content, determining the metrics, and setting desired learning outcomes of instruction.

The abstract, as well as the rest of the paper, indicate that these consequences result in important decisions being made by private entities, referred to by many as third party vendors, “without public scrutiny or pedagogical examination.”

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Ed-Tech Today: Providing Hope and Opportunity or a Pathway to the Gig Economy of Tomorrow?

The Network for Public Education (NPE) held their 4th annual conference in Oakland, CA on October 14 and 15. A team put together by Parents Across America Puget Sound gave a panel presentation at the conference. Some information about the … Continue reading

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