Sunday, October 18, 2015

Surveys Containing Personal Behavioral/Emotional Questions Are Given To Oklahoma Students Through 21st Century Skills Programming


The latest email from the Oklahoma State Department of Education
 heralds the fact that we took yet MORE MONEY from the federal government in the way of 21st Century Community Center Learning grants (CCLC). This is exciting, we are told, because now, there are 59 total grantees in the state, each getting hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. Thrilling! Or is it? Do we know what the CCLC's do? What are their performance records? What is going on in the course of administration of this program?

As I read the email, I remembered an incident way back in 2011 when I received a call from a friend, regarding a psychological survey his son had been given - without his permission -at his school in Hugo, Oklahoma. After some digging around, we were both able to find out about 21st Century Community Centers and what they did.

Because of the new fabulous grants being handed out this year funding further CCLC's in Oklahoma, I thought I would re-publish our findings. In order to update our research, I attempted to go out to the federal Department of Education and look up the grant information as I had done previously (see figs 2 and 3 below). Unfortunately, I found this message
The 21st CCLC Profile and Performance Information Collection System (PPICS) has been retired and a new data collection method is currently under development. Please visit this site after April 2015 for updates.
Unfortunately, this is October of 2015 and there was NOTHING on the CCLC page indicating a link to the 'new' data collection. No new performance reports - no nothing.

Apparently, all the CCLC data were moved to the Oklahoma State Department of Education where I found a page that contained a program evaluation report for 2012/2013. Page 30 begins to report the collection of SOCIOEMOTIONAL data for students enrolled in the program. In Oklahoma, it is against the law (HB3399) to collect SOCIOEMOTIONAL data via state testing, yet here it is in four full pages from 30-34. Don't you suppose that if Oklahoma legislators were upset enough about social emotional questions to make them illegal on state tests, they'd be just as concerned about this kind of data collection anywhere in the educational process? I think many would, yes. That is why it's extremely important to let your legislator know what is happening inside the boundaries of this program.

Here are 2 screenshots of some of the questions kids in this program are asked.



The reasons ROPE - and apparently the legislature - are so opposed to this kind of questioning is that it can be very effectively stored and used against kids at a later date, or used to pigeonhole them in programming that is unnecessary and/or costly.

At this point, I will interject our previous study from 2011 regarding CCLC's:

OVERVIEW:
  1.  21st CCLC programming includes psychological testing that has been done in Oklahoma – illegally – without parental permission.
  2. Due to changes in FERPA laws (governing student privacy rights in public schools), demographic and personal student data may now be collected and shared widely without parental knowledge or consent.
  3. Collecting sensitive data such as that provided by psychological evaluations of any kind, creates enormous breaches in the right to privacy of minor children enrolled in public education.
  4. 21st CCLC’s cost over 1 billion dollars per year and – according to their own annual reports – have failed every year - not yet once reaching the goals of their assessment descriptors.
BACKGROUND:

21st Century programming was the brainchild of a man named Marc Tucker - an acolyte of Hillary Clinton - the man also behind the Common Core Standards. He believes strongly in the John Dewey progressive education model - most commonly employed among communist countries - where school is to provide students EVERYTHING they need for successful lives. Teachers and parents are simply facilitators in the role of fitting the student in the role of 'worker'. Tucker is the progenitor of the standards-based education reform movement - another name for Outcome Based Education. Marc Tucker's organization is called, National Center for Education and the Economy.

ISSUES:

1. The entire 21st Century program is built upon a series of white papers that explain the above philosophy in great detail.

  • Instead of focusing exclusively on math, science, reading/writing, social studies, 21st Century focuses on Global Awareness - Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy - Civic Literacy - Health Literacy - Environmental Literacy
  • Please note: the P21 Toolkit tells how Common Core and P21 Align, and shows ZERO actual concrete standards or practice of basic skills – relying instead on endless group projects and 'explorations' - very progressive education.
  • The Measuring Skills for 21st Century Education on page 1 "Unmet Challenges" of the document begins tying together John Dewey and Marc Tucker and explains that employers need workers to do more than simple procedures - or how the government (public schools) need to prepare students to be workers.
2. The 21st Century program (also called P21 - Partnership for 21st Century Skills) is actually four parts that includes the 21st Century after school programming.

3. 21st Century after school programs are ALL supported by federal grants
  • 86 Oklahoma school districts have been given 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grants since 2006
  • FY11, Oklahoma was given $12,482,019 to serve 12,482 children = funding of 1 THOUSAND dollars per child?
4. Page 4 of the Measuring Skills document ties the 21st Century Skills and 21st CCLC's together - how 21st Century uses the CCLC's to promote their agenda

5. Despite an increase in spending every single year, please note the following from the government's own 21st Century Community Learning Centers performance review:
  • "The program as a whole continues to fall below the established targeted performance thresholds associated with the GPRA performance indicators for the program. A rigorous study of the program may result in the development of more relevant GPRA measures"
  • In other words, taxpayers spend over a BILLION dollars on this program every year so that P21’s own assessments can show they’re having NO impact at all. In response, P21 will lower their assessment cut scores and change indicators to match their program results.
6. Grants are given to schools to institute a wide range of after school activities including the following:
  • Drug and violence prevention programs and counseling programs
  • Please note the “Glossary of Terms” on pages 40-41 of the Response to Intervention document 4 out of 24 apply specifically to BEHAVIOR issues
  • Note all the manners by which children in the program are assessed and how specific data programs utilized by the program, can collect “HUGE” amounts of demographic data on students in the program (under the guise of accountability).
  • This website sells psychological tests which are administered to assess behavior in the 21st Century programs.
  • Psychological testing of students is PROHIBITED by the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) excepting under specific conditions allowed by the parent.
  •  Because of changes in the FERPA regulations that allow a large amount of student data to be collected from public school students AND then SHARED with other organizations WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT (pg 52), it is entirely possible for psychological profiles to be collected and digitized into a database without parental consent by those ignorant of the law.
7. Figure 1 represents a psychological assessment given to the child of parent Howard Houchen, in Hugo Elementary Schools.

8. Hugo Elementary Schools received a 21st CCLC grant in July 2007.
  • Since that time, Hugo Public Schools has received $880,000 for the CCLC program (Figure 2) that Hugo Public Schools was providing various forms of counseling services.
9. Figure 3 shows that Hugo Elementary Schools CCLC program was funded in part by Hartsell Psychological Services and that the Hugo CCLC was tasked to provide behavioral counseling to students less than 18 years of age.

10. Appendix 1 contains the letter sent by Hugo parent Howard Houchen to Representative Lee Denney in response to HB2641, explaining his concerns about the 21st Century CCLC program in Hugo.

CONCLUSION: 

Under the 21st Century Skills program – a federal grant program paid for by tax payers – students are being administered psychological tests through public schools without parental consent. Because of the recent changes in FERPA laws, which allow student demographic and other personal ‘data’ to be collected and shared by public schools without parental consent, public education institutions should not offer these kinds of highly sensitive services. In order to protect student/family privacy, minor child counseling programs should be confined to those sought specifically/exclusively by the parent/family of the minor child in need of counseling, administered through private, non-profit organizations or through the Department of Human Services. Public schools should focus solely on educational matters and leave matters of physical and emotional health to parents, families and personal physicians.

Figure 1: Psychological assessment provided by Hugo Elementary Schools to the students in 5th grade class without parental permission.


Figure 1: Psychological assessment provided by Hugo Elementary Schools
to the students in 5
th grade class without parental permission.

Figure 2: Screen shot of the Grantee Details for Hugo Public Schools’ CCLC grant.



Figure 2: Screen shot of the Grantee Details for
 Hugo Public Schools’ CCLC grant.


Figure 3: Screen shot from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers website showing that Hartsell Psychological Services was a funding source for Hugo Public Schools 21st CCLC where behavioral counseling was a part of the program.

Figure 3: Screen shot from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers website 
showing that Hartsell Psychological Services was a funding source for 
Hugo Public Schools 21st CCLC where behavioral counseling was a part of the program.

Appendix 1: Letter from Hugo parent Howard Houchen to Representative Lee Denney of the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee – author of HB2641 that all districts have access to individual and group counseling.


Rep. Denney, et al;

I would also ask that HB2641 be tabled and would like to offer some points for clarity purposes.  Both of my children attend Hugo Public schools. The youngest is in 5th Grade at Hugo Elementary, the oldest graduates (with Honors) from Hugo High School in three months.  The 'Durant" reference, I believe, comes from a finding that Hartsell Psychological Services also has an "after school program contract" with Calera Public Schools which is just a few miles away from Durant, OK.

Hartsell Psychological Services (HPS) first appeared on my radar in August 2011 as I was notified that Hugo Elementary had CONTRACTED with HPS (in conjunction with a 21st Century Grant) to provide an after-school program.  I will try and be as succinct as possible here: HPS pays the schools they have contracted with a sum of money that goes to pay for the salaries of the teachers used in the after-school program. 

In return, HPS gets their money from "counseling" children that they basically refer to themselves (in many instances).  This payment appears to range from $400.00 -- $600.00 per week, per student.  Who pays?  You and I do because the charges go to Medicaid and SoonerCare, however, I am unable to find a single SoonerCare payment to HPS.   

I was told, by an administrator, that HPS also has material that some teachers use during regular school sessions.  I was unable to determine what that material is and what it is used for.  Our youngest was given what I consider to be a psych assessment, by HPS, outside of the after-school program (in regular school session) AND he is NOT enrolled in the after-school program.  HPS claims to have these program contracts with many ISD's throughout Oklahoma.  I do know they are contracted with Hugo and Calera. 

The "assessments" which were attempted to be given to  my child were VERY personal in nature and the parents were never asked for consent to having our children take part in either of the assessments.  Approximately 7 weeks ago our youngest son came home and told us the following: "Ms. Harmon handed out another psychological test today."  I asked: "Did you take it?"  He replied: "No, I recognized it from the last one and walked up to her desk and asked, 'Is this from Hartsell?' and she said 'Yes' and I told her I didn't want to do it so she didn't make me." 

I can go on-and-on about this topic but realize you are under restraints of time.  I can tell you that when all of the information is properly analyzed relative to data collection on OUR children...it is my judgment that this MUST end.  I am fed-up with kids being utilized as mines for data and "Guinea-Pigs".
I can tell you that the administrators I talk with about this situation feel as if they are in a  "damned if  you do and damned if you don't" situation.  They see dollars leaving programs, such as the after-school program, and are willing to dance with the devil to recoup those dollars.  I have offered my opinion on this tactic and am unwilling to sell my child’s and my family’s' privacy through data collection.  HB2641 simply adds to this already exploitive and corruptible environment. 

Please feel free to contact me personally if you have any questions or comments;

Regards,


Howard Houchen