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LETTER: Common Core to give student data to feds

To the Editor:

Melody Schopp, South Dakota’s secretary of education, made some misleading statements in your Jan. 13 front page report on the upcoming Common Core legislative battle. She gave the impression that individual student information does not go to the federal government. As you will see, if she does not have a conflict of interest, she certainly is biased.

What your readers may not know is Schopp is a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which is a private, non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., that holds the copyright on Common Core. Its website admits that, in partnership with the United States Department of Education, it put together the Common Education Data Standards Initiative that involves collecting student data “from early childhood through K-12 education to post-secondary education and the workforce.”

Schopp’s CCSSO is also in partnership with the “Data Quality Campaign” that says the above-mentioned student data is linked “with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

This spring, Schopp is requiring, as allowed by state law, all South Dakota public schools to administer the Smarter Balance assessment tests. SBAC received a grant from the federal Race to the Top program that makes SBAC bound to “make student-level data” available to the Department of Education “on an ongoing basis” and “must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the state level” to the Department of Education.

And for any parents who are concerned about the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of their children and their family, Schopp has stated in writing that there are “potential consequences if a parent were to prohibit the student from taking the assessment,” including the enforcement of “the state’s truancy laws.”

So who exactly is Schopp working for? When Schopp says Common Core was state-led, we now should understand that means the state government of South Dakota has agreed to be an arm of the federal government and corporate special interests. Can we have the Legislature stop this agenda? Only if you speak up; now is the time.