Anita Hoge’s OPEN LETTER to PA Dept of Ed’s Dumaresq

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytThe fol­low­ing is the com­plete text of the for­mal let­ter that Ani­ta Hoge addressed to Car­olyn C. Dumaresq, Act­ing Sec­re­tary of the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion on Nov. 21st. This let­ter gives the full details behind the PRESS RELEASE issued sev­er­al days ago, which we pub­lished in its entire­ty on this blog (click HERE).

Anita B. Hoge

Ani­ta B. Hoge

Par­ents and con­cerned cit­i­zens should read Anita’s let­ter to learn the truth about the Com­mon Core stan­dards. Once again, we repub­lish this in its entire­ty so that all can have access to this pub­lic let­ter.

 

Novem­ber 21, 2014

Car­olyn C. Dumaresq, Ed. D.
Act­ing Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion
Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion
333 Mar­ket Street
Har­ris­burg, PA 17126

Dear Sec­re­tary Dumaresq,

I want to thank you for your let­ter dat­ed Octo­ber 24, 2014. I have five major con­cerns that I will dis­cuss in this cor­re­spon­dence.

My first con­cern is in my let­ter dat­ed Sep­tem­ber 12, 2014, where I stat­ed the fol­low­ing,

I have grave con­cerns about the direc­tion that the Com­mon Core stan­dards move­ment has tak­en, as well as, my con­cerns of the ethics of test­ing and teach­ing in the affec­tive domain. I must ques­tion the legal­i­ty of these meth­ods with­out prop­er safe­guards and ask that legal coun­sel respond to this direc­tion that Penn­syl­va­nia has tak­en.”

I do agree with you that a state has the free­dom under the Con­sti­tu­tion to not accept the Com­mon Core Stan­dards copy­right. But upon accep­tance of the Mem­o­ran­dum and Race to the Top (RTTT) Penn­syl­va­nia agreed to the guar­an­tee that 85% of the stan­dards can­not be changed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, when Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion, Ronald Toma­lis signed and agreed to the ESEA Flex­i­bil­i­ty Waiv­er, 2013, Penn­syl­va­nia accept­ed the waived con­di­tions of No Child Left Behind, which man­dates not only Com­mon Core, but also the Col­lege Career Cit­i­zen­ship Readi­ness Stan­dards, teacher train­ing for Com­mon Core, and exten­sion of the Com­mon Core of Lan­guage Arts and Math into the affec­tive domain in Prin­ci­ple 6. The pro­vi­sions also change Title I to blan­ket a school by elim­i­nat­ing pover­ty guide­lines to cov­er all chil­dren. Con­tracts that I have recent­ly reviewed state specif­i­cal­ly that Penn­syl­va­nia is pro­ceed­ing with the Com­mon Core Stan­dards. As you know, the affec­tive domain has always been a major part of Pennsylvania’s research on chil­dren since the EQA that I had filed a fed­er­al com­plaint against.

Parental input will have NO impact on the Com­mon Core stan­dards or the direc­tion that edu­ca­tion is head­ing because of these signed grants and con­tracts. The Governor’s hear­ings for par­ents to have a seat at the table, and to have input con­cern­ing the stan­dards, are there­fore point­less and only relate to a very small per­cent­age of change. The nation­al Com­mon Core agen­da is in place in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Prin­ci­ple 6 states in the signed grant,

Prin­ci­ple 6 – estab­lish a school envi­ron­ment that improves school safe­ty and dis­ci­pline and address­es oth­er non-aca­d­e­m­ic fac­tors that impact stu­dent achieve­ment, such as stu­dents’ social, emo­tion­al and health needs.”

What is most inter­est­ing about your let­ter is that you state that the Col­lege Career Cit­i­zen­ship Readi­ness Stan­dards are not part of Pennsylvania’s Stan­dards. But yet, these stan­dards were being imple­ment­ed into the class­room through the Stan­dards Aligned Sys­tem (SAS) por­tal under Safe Schools and the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards dat­ed April 25, 2012. This does not pre-date Gov­er­nor Corbett’s elec­tion. These stan­dards were cleansed from the SAS por­tal after my pre­sen­ta­tion on Octo­ber 20, 2014 in Sen­a­tor Folmer’s office in Har­ris­burg.

The Chief State School Offi­cers had expand­ed the Com­mon Core Stan­dards copy­right to include dis­po­si­tions. In order for Penn­syl­va­nia to not be oblig­at­ed to imple­ment these stan­dards on the state lev­el, our Gov­er­nor and Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion would have to with­draw from the ESEA Flex­i­bil­i­ty Grant. I would also point out that the SAS por­tal also referred to these Stan­dards as “aca­d­e­m­ic,” in which par­ents are not truth­ful­ly being informed of their rights. These Com­mon Core affec­tive domain stan­dards are not aca­d­e­m­ic, and the law should apply so that informed parental con­sent would tru­ly mean informed.

I also ques­tioned the “present posi­tion that the State Board and the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion has on test­ing and teach­ing in the affec­tive domain by refer­ring to the fol­low­ing ‘aca­d­e­m­ic’ stan­dards and anchors, and if writ­ten parental per­mis­sion is used when engag­ing in these inter­per­son­al trait activ­i­ties.”

In your response to my let­ter you refer to 22 PA Code 4.51 © that states: “Nei­ther State assess­ments nor aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards under § 4.12 may require stu­dents to hold or express par­tic­u­lar atti­tudes, val­ues or beliefs.” [Emp. mine]

Although word­ed in a pecu­liar way, the reg­u­la­tion does not for­bid test­ing, eval­u­a­tions, inter­ven­tions, sur­veys, or col­lect­ing per­son­al infor­ma­tion about atti­tudes, val­ues, or beliefs. How­ev­er, the Pro­tec­tion of Pupil Rights Amend­ment (PPRA) and BEC 8–90 does pro­tect stu­dents from being required, as part of any pro­gram, to sub­mit, with­out writ­ten pri­or con­sent, to psy­chi­atric or psy­cho­log­i­cal exam­i­na­tion, test­ing, inter­ven­tions, or treat­ment in the 7 pro­tect­ed areas to which (I allege) the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion is not adher­ing.

Par­ents ques­tion why these affec­tive stan­dards are includ­ed on the SAS por­tal, with cur­ricu­lum and les­son plans that are total­ly aligned. Why is the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion cre­at­ing stan­dards that would test, score, teach, and reme­di­ate atti­tudes, val­ues, opin­ions and beliefs of Penn­syl­va­nia stu­dents? Affec­tive domain stan­dards were test­ed and scored in the past in the Penn­syl­va­nia EQA. The ques­tions that beg to be asked are 1) what exact­ly is being test­ed and 2) how will that stan­dard be scored for pro­fi­cien­cy in inter­per­son­al skills or per­son­al­i­ty traits? The Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion was found in vio­la­tion of fed­er­al law for test­ing and scor­ing atti­tudes, val­ues, opin­ions, and beliefs in the past. I am refer­ring to the pol­i­cy BEC 8–90 that was exten­sive­ly nego­ti­at­ed to resolve my fed­er­al com­plaint against the EQA. This debate con­tin­ued against the con­tro­ver­sial stu­dent learn­ing out­comes under the Out­come Based Edu­ca­tion bat­tle in 1992. At that time affec­tive out­comes and stan­dards were removed from Chap­ter 4 rule-mak­ing pack­age by the IRRC. It is an abuse of pow­er and a con­spir­a­cy to try to imple­ment these affec­tive domain stan­dards with­out vet­ting, with­out parental input, with­out any reg­u­la­to­ry over­sight, and with­out informed writ­ten parental con­sent. Why is the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion so bold as to ignore the law?

I do not believe you answered my ques­tion: Is informed writ­ten parental per­mis­sion obtained when engag­ing in these activ­i­ties? I have list­ed below an exper­i­men­tal pro­gram called the Penn Resilien­cy Project from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. The Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards are list­ed and aligned to this project’s objec­tives.

Anita PA graphicQuot­ing from the PRP pro­gram:

The Penn Resilien­cy Pro­gram (PRP), designed by our research team, is a group inter­ven­tion for late ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents. The cur­ricu­lum teach­es cog­ni­tive-behav­ioral and social prob­lem-solv­ing skills and is based in part on cog­ni­tive-behav­ioral the­o­ries of depres­sion by Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, and Mar­tin Selig­man (Abram­son, Selig­man, & Teas­dale, 1978; Beck, 1967, 1976; Ellis, 1962). Cen­tral to PRP is Ellis’ Adver­si­ty-Con­se­quences-Beliefs (ABC) mod­el, the notion that our beliefs about events medi­ate their impact on our emo­tions and behav­ior.”

I am request­ing a direct answer to these ques­tions: 1) Is informed writ­ten parental con­sent obtained for incor­po­rat­ing the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards into the cur­ricu­lum and assess­ments? and 2) Is parental per­mis­sion obtained for teach­ing this par­tic­u­lar cur­ricu­lum (PRP) which was on the SAS por­tal?

Anoth­er exper­i­men­tal pro­gram from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia is the Duck­worth lab­o­ra­to­ry called Char­ac­ter Lab that has done research and cre­at­ed scales to mea­sure grit and self con­trol. Duck­worth also has a list of schools where she has per­formed her research. Is informed writ­ten parental con­sent used in these exper­i­men­tal pro­grams? Do par­ents under­stand that their chil­dren will be used for research that aligns a psy­cho­me­t­ric record on their per­son­al­i­ties?

Quot­ing from Angela Duckworth’s research that mea­sure soft skills and per­son­al­i­ty type ques­tion­naires:

Researchers and edu­ca­tors are wel­come to scales we have devel­oped in our lab for non-com­mer­cial pur­pos­es. On a cau­tion­ary note, we point out that these scales were orig­i­nal­ly designed to assess indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences rather than sub­tle with­in-indi­vid­ual changes in behav­ior over time. Thus, we do not know whether they are valid indi­ca­tors of pre- to post-change as a con­se­quence of inter­ven­tions. We also dis­cour­age the use of the scales in high stakes set­tings where fak­ing is a con­cern (e.g., admis­sions or hir­ing deci­sions).”

My sec­ond con­cern is relat­ed to the expung­ing of the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards from the SAS por­tal. How will that relate to the way the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards have been embed­ded into the cur­ricu­lum, as well as, oth­er Core Aca­d­e­m­ic Stan­dards list­ed on the SAS por­tal? I have found that these affec­tive domain stan­dards con­tin­ue to be found in the fol­low­ing “aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards” areas:

  • Career Edu­ca­tion and Work
  • Fam­i­ly and Con­sumer Sci­ences
  • Health Safe­ty and Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion

In fact, when you search the SAS web­site por­tal and query Inter­per­son­al Skills, there are 2,383 activ­i­ties, les­son plans, pro­grams, cur­ricu­lum, etc., that are returned that still remain on the por­tal. The Safe Schools web­site por­tal also includes Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards list­ed.

These embed­ded Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards, accord­ing to fed­er­al law and state pol­i­cy, must have informed writ­ten parental per­mis­sion before any stu­dent is exposed to these les­son plans and cur­ricu­lum. I would like to have your posi­tion, as well as that of Gov­er­nor Cor­bett, legal coun­sel, the IRRC, and the State Board, in response to this seri­ous sit­u­a­tion. If the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards were NOT vet­ted or approved by the State Board, and then cleansed from the SAS por­tal after my meet­ing, then the cur­ricu­lum and the les­son plans were also not vet­ted or approved and must be cleansed from the SAS por­tal. I would ask that you respond con­cern­ing this egre­gious sit­u­a­tion, and let the par­ents of Penn­syl­va­nia know that you, the IRRC, the State Board, and the Gov­er­nor will cor­rect this sit­u­a­tion. It will be very impor­tant that all cur­ricu­lum and les­son plans be erad­i­cat­ed, root and branch, from the por­tal and class­rooms, imme­di­ate­ly.

My third con­cern is the inter­ven­tions that are in the affec­tive domain that do not have a direct rela­tion­ship to aca­d­e­m­ic con­tent. It is my under­stand­ing that a behav­ioral sys­tem of sup­port, screen­ing, assess­ment, eval­u­a­tion, and inter­ven­tion is being per­formed in the reg­u­lar class­room and called Response to Instruc­tion and Inter­ven­tion or RTII. This mul­ti-tiered sys­tem of sup­port (PA-MTSS) which is fund­ed through the Indi­vid­u­als With Dis­abil­i­ties Edu­ca­tion Act (IDEA), with train­ing imple­ment­ed through Penn­syl­va­nia Train­ing and Tech­ni­cal Assis­tance Pro­gram (PATTAN), does not obtain informed writ­ten parental con­sent for behav­ioral assess­ments that are being used to screen, assess, eval­u­ate, and imple­ment inter­ven­tions for stu­dents in order to attain aca­d­e­m­ic and behav­ioral stan­dards relat­ing to Pennsylvania’s Core stan­dards, includ­ing the repu­di­at­ed Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards. The PATTAN web­site and train­ing mod­ules state:

PA-MTSS rep­re­sents a broad set of evi­dence-based prac­tices that may be imple­ment­ed across a sys­tem to include Aca­d­e­mics AND Behav­ior with­in a recur­sive and sys­tem­at­ic prob­lem-solv­ing process. PA-MTSS is rel­a­tive­ly syn­ony­mous with RtII and is intend­ed to help ALL stu­dents meet with con­tin­u­al aca­d­e­m­ic and behav­ioral suc­cess.” [Emp. mine]

This screen­ing pre­cludes an IEP process using US Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Spe­cial Edu­ca­tion funds. Par­ents of reg­u­lar class­room stu­dents have NOT been grant­ed pro­tec­tion nor per­mit­ted input. The frame­work tabs in the RTII train­ing mod­ules also cor­re­late and use behav­ioral stan­dards aligned to the SAS por­tal. The three lev­els of inter­ven­tions have a con­tin­u­um that increas­es to the third lev­el with inten­sive inter­ven­tions before and with­out the pro­tec­tion and per­mis­sion of the par­ent that is usu­al­ly required in an IEP process for Spe­cial Edu­ca­tion chil­dren. This process is used on ALL chil­dren. The screen­ing, test­ing, eval­u­at­ing, and inter­ven­tion activ­i­ty is done in the reg­u­lar class­room for all stu­dents, with­out the knowl­edge or con­sent of par­ents, align­ing to the SAS por­tal and Penn­syl­va­nia stan­dards.

There have been sev­er­al law­suits that sub­stan­ti­ate that, under IDEA pro­tec­tions, parental input and writ­ten per­mis­sion is demand­ed in the begin­ning and through­out the entire process, includ­ing RTII, par­tic­u­lar­ly whether a stu­dent is or is not referred to Spe­cial Edu­ca­tion. I would ask legal coun­sel to respond to this ques­tion, is the RTII, MTSS, and PATTAN, regard­ing screen­ing and doing inter­ven­tions in the affec­tive domain, obtain­ing informed writ­ten parental con­sent for the Response to Instruc­tion and Inter­ven­tion process with all class­room stu­dents in the reg­u­lar class­room?

This will be an issue based on the fact that the Inter­per­son­al Skills and Stan­dards (and oth­er embed­ded cur­ricu­lum asso­ci­at­ed with those behav­ioral stan­dards) are being imple­ment­ed in the reg­u­lar class­rooms under Com­mon Core, and the inter­ven­tions are using IDEA fund­ing. In oth­er words, par­ents are NOT informed of this process, and writ­ten per­mis­sion is NOT obtained. I must add that one of Pennsylvania’s con­trac­tors, Pear­son, has also devel­oped a phone appli­ca­tion for behav­ioral and clin­i­cal assess­ment for chil­dren in the class­room called BOSS, Behav­ioral Obser­va­tion for Stu­dents in School, researched at Lehigh Uni­ver­si­ty, which must also have informed writ­ten parental con­sent to be used in the class­room. Is informed writ­ten parental con­sent obtained before these pro­grams are ini­ti­at­ed?

My fourth con­cern regards the data col­lec­tion and per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion that is in a stu­dent edu­ca­tion record. In Chap­ter 4.51 Assess­ment (e) and (g) in the reg­u­la­tions state:

(e) To ensure that infor­ma­tion regard­ing stu­dent per­for­mance is avail­able to par­ents and teach­ers, State assess­ments devel­oped under this sec­tion must include stu­dent names.

(g) The Depart­ment and oth­er Com­mon­wealth enti­ties are pro­hib­it­ed from col­lect­ing indi­vid­ual stu­dent test scores and may col­lect only aggre­gate test scores by school and dis­trict.

Upon review­ing cur­rent writ­ten agree­ments of the Depart­ment, indi­vid­ual test scores and per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion on stu­dents and teach­ers are being accessed and entered into the Penn­syl­va­nia Infor­ma­tion Man­age­ment Sys­tem (PIMS) data ware­house in which the Depart­ment, oth­er Com­mon­wealth enti­ties, includ­ing out­side con­trac­tors, have access to per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion. This is in vio­la­tion of Chap­ter 4 reg­u­la­tions that I pre­vi­ous­ly cit­ed in 4.51 (e) and (f). Out­side con­trac­tors are defined as a “school offi­cial” in FERPA, (Author­i­ty: 20 U.S.C. 1232g (b)(1) and (b)(2)(A) § 99.31). Those con­trac­tors who apply for access to per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion are con­sid­ered a Com­mon­wealth autho­rized rep­re­sen­ta­tive when enter­ing into writ­ten agree­ments with the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion. There­fore, these ven­dors are legal­ly only able to access aggre­gate data accord­ing to Chap­ter 4 Reg­u­la­tion. These con­trac­tors are in vio­la­tion of Chap­ter 4.

Since a state unique per­son­al ID has been issued to all stu­dents in Penn­syl­va­nia, and names are being placed on the tests, it enables easy cross-ref­er­enc­ing capa­bil­i­ties when used with direc­to­ry infor­ma­tion. The state PIMS lon­gi­tu­di­nal data­base is a data repos­i­to­ry in which data is main­tained on the indi­vid­ual. The data col­lect­ed is entered by the local school dis­trict and/or inter­me­di­ate unit. The issue of direc­to­ry infor­ma­tion being released, to be used to pre-print labels or pre-iden­ti­fy the stu­dent, also becomes a big­ger issue when linked to or cross matched to oth­er iden­ti­fy­ing fea­tures includ­ing: state unique ID, SSN, name, zip code, the school, the teacher, birth­date, address, mother’s maid­en name, etc. The use of bio­met­ric data (fin­ger­prints, voice prints, iris scans, DNA sequences, etc.) is also an issue, par­tic­u­lar­ly because bio­met­ric data is includ­ed in the def­i­n­i­tion of per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion in FERPA. This is the data allowed to be shared with out­side ven­dors. I am request­ing the Attor­ney Gen­er­al and the Gov­er­nor to stop the release of this data.

Per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion must be pro­tect­ed. Objec­tive pri­va­cy data and com­put­er ana­lysts must be involved with safe­guard­ing Penn­syl­va­nia stu­dents, know­ing that this per­son­al infor­ma­tion is being released. Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty, with a grant through NSF, is col­lect­ing bio­met­ric data in their research with Learn Sphere. Is informed writ­ten parental con­sent obtained in these research projects? Do par­ents under­stand how the bio­met­ric data col­lect­ed will be used in rela­tion­ship to their chil­dren meet­ing affec­tive domain Com­mon Core Stan­dards?

Stu­dent infor­ma­tion on the local lev­el must be de-iden­ti­fied and stripped of all iden­ti­fy­ing cri­te­ria, NEVER allow­ing per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion to be linked to the state PIMS and/or sent to any state or fed­er­al data­bas­es, includ­ing the Nation­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics, or any out­side con­trac­tor. This sys­tem has sev­er­al seri­ous legal ques­tions that must be reviewed by legal coun­sel and com­put­er experts.

I am request­ing that the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Fed­er­al and State Inspec­tor Gen­er­als and legal coun­sel review this sit­u­a­tion and report their find­ings, and rescind all con­tracts that allow per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion to be released to out­side providers in vio­la­tion of Chap­ter 4.

I am also con­cerned that the Depart­ment of Labor, con­sid­ered a Com­mon­wealth enti­ty, can obtain per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion, thus cre­at­ing a “womb to work­place” dossier on a stu­dent in coop­er­a­tion with the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and the Nation­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics. Every per­son was giv­en a unique ID accord­ing to the con­tract with eSchol­ar in 2006, with 1.8 mil­lion stu­dents from birth to col­lege age who were iden­ti­fied. Deloitte com­plet­ed the eSchol­ar Data Ware­house in 2007. In sum­ma­ry, every per­son today, from age 26 and under has a com­plete dossier that was inte­grat­ed into the Department’s appli­ca­tions. Every state has applied for this same lon­gi­tu­di­nal data base iden­ti­fy­ing every per­son in their respec­tive states using Penn­syl­va­nia as their mod­el. Is this nation pre­pared to accept that in 20+ more years, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shall have a com­plete demo­graph­ic and psy­cho­me­t­ric dossier on every per­son in the Unit­ed States? Womb to work­place? This col­lec­tion of data goes far beyond the premise of nation­al demo­graph­ic cen­sus data, or per­haps, is this the premise? Will this data col­lec­tion replace the cen­sus? How does the Depart­ment explain how this per­son­al data will be used in the future?

After care­ful­ly review­ing the con­tracts I have reached the con­clu­sion that the Depart­ment of Labor may legal­ly only receive aggre­gate data, and not per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion. If this data­base is pre­sumed to extend from birth into the work­force, includ­ing wages, SSN’s should nev­er be col­lect­ed and entered into the PIMS data­base due to rea­son­able pri­va­cy con­cerns, as well as cross ref­er­enc­ing capa­bil­i­ties that can be linked with a state stu­dent unique ID, direc­to­ry infor­ma­tion, and per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion.

Please explain how all encom­pass­ing data on an indi­vid­ual from birth is linked to human cap­i­tal or wages that will be added to the PIMS and Depart­ment of Labor dossier. I would advo­cate that the Attor­ney Gen­er­al and Inspec­tor Gen­er­al be advised to review the con­tracts with the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Labor that have writ­ten agree­ments that enable them to access per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion using an individual’s unique nation­al ID, incon­spic­u­ous­ly ini­ti­at­ed as a state project for a state unique ID must also be reviewed.

A local unique per­son­al ID must be used that de-iden­ti­fies and strips per­son­al data that does not link to the PIMS data ware­house, the Depart­ment of Labor, or Com­mon­wealth enti­ties for the best pro­tec­tion of our stu­dents. This sys­tem has sev­er­al seri­ous legal and pri­va­cy ques­tions that must be reviewed by legal coun­sel.

I am request­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing who it is that over­sees the deci­sion, the pro­to­col used, and by what cri­te­ria these deci­sions are based, as well as who is qual­i­fied to receive per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion on our stu­dents? I am also request­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing any prof­it that is made in the re-dis­clo­sure of per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion to any con­trac­tor, or from per­son­al data that may be acquired for free. Anoth­er ques­tion that must be dis­cussed is who owns the data? The par­ents? The state who secret­ly col­lects the data? The data researcher who access­es per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion? Or the data user who devel­ops cur­ricu­lum, soft­ware, tests, or app’s for phones? Who gets the data for free and sells their wares back to the schools? Who “owns” the chil­dren?

My fifth and final con­cern is direct­ly relat­ed to the col­lec­tion of data from the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards, includ­ing Response to Instruc­tion and Inter­ven­tions, or from any of the embed­ded affec­tive stan­dards in any of the oth­er core areas such as Career Edu­ca­tion and Work, Fam­i­ly and Con­sumer Sci­ences, and/or Health Safe­ty and Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion, and entered into the PIMS data ware­house. In ref­er­ence to per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion (that is accessed and/or re-dis­closed by the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, oth­er Com­mon­wealth enti­ties, or any out­side con­trac­tors), are atti­tu­di­nal, behav­ioral assess­ments, per­son­al­i­ty traits, social or emo­tion­al learn­ing, or any pri­vate or sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion col­lect­ed, entered into a local com­put­er or phone appli­ca­tion and shared with the PIMS data ware­house? There are severe legal impli­ca­tions and vio­la­tions if per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion, includ­ing behav­ioral and per­son­al­i­ty traits, are pro­vid­ed to out­side con­trac­tors that have writ­ten agree­ments with the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion. Bot­tom line, this data is com­bined in a psy­cho­me­t­ric record. It is not a mere tran­script of aca­d­e­m­ic con­tent on read­ing and math that is being released and re-dis­closed. The Penn Resilien­cy Project and the Pear­son BOSS phone app referred to ear­li­er in this cor­re­spon­dence comes to mind.

Col­lec­tion and re-dis­clo­sure of this infor­ma­tion would be in direct vio­la­tion of the Pro­tec­tion of Pupil Rights Amend­ment (please refer to the def­i­n­i­tions in the PPRA for psy­cho­log­i­cal and psy­chi­atric test­ing and treat­ment) and state pol­i­cy, BEC 8–90. Psy­cho­log­i­cal, psy­chi­atric or behav­ioral data are pri­vate and are legal­ly pro­tect­ed and shall not be col­lect­ed or shared with any­one with­out informed writ­ten parental con­sent.

I request that the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al and legal coun­sel review these writ­ten agree­ments that are admit­ting access to per­son­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion. An inves­ti­ga­tion must be con­duct­ed into the impli­ca­tions of per­son­al vio­la­tions against Penn­syl­va­nia stu­dents that by law must have informed writ­ten parental con­sent to access the stu­dents, and into the use of data that is for­bid­den to be col­lect­ed or re-dis­closed. The entire PIMS data ware­house must be inves­ti­gat­ed, as it may be in vio­la­tion of fed­er­al law, state pol­i­cy, and 22 PA Code Chap­ter 4.

I appre­ci­ate the Department’s quick response after my meet­ing on Octo­ber 20, 2014 in Sen­a­tor Folmer’s office with Andrew Paris from the Governor’s office attend­ing. At that time, I reviewed sev­er­al con­tracts and helped iden­ti­fy prob­lems with stan­dards that were in the affec­tive domain asso­ci­at­ed with an attached copy of the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards. The removal of the Inter­per­son­al Skills Stan­dards from the SAS por­tal, and send­ing out the PennLink to all 500 school dis­tricts to par­tial­ly expunge the SAS por­tal of the affec­tive domain stan­dards, is an extreme­ly impor­tant action, and an acknowl­edge­ment of wrong­do­ing to the chil­dren and par­ents of Penn­syl­va­nia. I believe par­ents have the right to know and under­stand exact­ly how their chil­dren and their records are being pro­tect­ed in the class­room. Pri­va­cy is a very huge issue.

Improv­ing edu­ca­tion for the chil­dren of Penn­syl­va­nia is a goal we both share. Thank you for your pri­or response as we con­tin­ue to work togeth­er. I am sor­ry for the length of this request, how­ev­er, these issues must be resolved.

I will look for­ward to your reply and the legal posi­tion of the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion in each of my five con­cerns.

Sin­cere­ly,
Ani­ta B Hoge

CC:
Jen­nifer Branset­ter, Gov­er­nor Corbett’s Office
Andrew Paris, Gov­er­nor Cornett’s Office
Kath­leen Kane, Attor­ney Gen­er­al
Karen Molchanow, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Penn­syl­va­nia State Board
John F. Mizn­er, Chair­man, IRRC
Aaron R. Jor­dan, Act­ing Assis­tant Inspec­tor Gen­er­al for Inves­ti­ga­tions
Steven Ander­son, Spe­cial Agent Fed­er­al Inspec­tor Gen­er­al
Michael Sprow, Penn­syl­va­nia Inspec­tor Gen­er­al
Kath­leen Styles, Chief Pri­va­cy Offi­cer