The Committee to Study Non-Academic Surveys or Questionnaires Administered by a Public School to its Students met on Weds. Sept. 1st. Below are the notes from that meeting. Please note that the next meeting is scheduled for Monday September 14th, 2015 – HB 206 Regular Meeting
LOB (Legislative Office Building behind the state house) Room 102 at 1:00pm
Senator Kevin Avard
Representative John Balcom
Representative Barbara Shaw
Representative Kenneth Weyler
Representative Rick Ladd
Representative Mary Gile
Representative Terry Wolf
Notes from the Sept. 1st meeting:
A local school board member in NH talked about how a teacher in her district surveyed the students on highly personal questions but had the children stand up and move forward/backwards to show their answers. The teacher took pictures of the students.
She told them this is coming from either the feds/state on mandating humanities. The teacher acknowledged that this is social justice education.
There was no parental notification and not a survey you will find “online”.
Some of the questions students were asked:
Do you think you might be transgender, pansexual?
Are you related to slaves?
Children were able to see how their friends answered.
At the end of the activity, the “white/successful” children ended up in front.
This was to alert children to privileges they have. The goal was to teach, where does hate come from?
Superintendents are using a LOOPHOLE in the federal law PPRA because the surveys are “voluntary”. “It seeks to ensure that schools and contractors obtain written parental consent before minor students are required to participate in any ED-funded survey.” In other words, Superintendents like the one in Bedford said he could administer the invasive surveys WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT on children because it was “voluntary” versus “mandatory.”
The problem is that 12 year old children will often times think they are taking some kind of a test and not realize it’s something they can refuse. Young children also want to please the teacher and do not feel comfortable refusing the surveys. Parents contend that even if it’s voluntary, they have a right to see the surveys and approve/disapprove.
The Rutherford Institute was also brought up as a good source on parental rights and surveys: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/do_parents_rights_end_at_the_schoolhouse_gate As you can see, grant funding was the objective versus parental rights:
Moreover, instead of acquiring written consent from parents, which is required under federal law, before subjecting students to these invasive surveys, MMS officials relied on so-called “passive consent,” by which parents are presumed to have given their approval if they do not return the opt-out form sent home with students. When challenged by a parent over this passive consent practice, a representative with the local social services agency administering the survey stated that the reason the “passive consent” system was adopted and why the method of obtaining consent would not be changed is that the agency needs a 98% participation rate in the survey in order to qualify for future government grants. In other words, recognizing that the participation rate would be 30% or less if a system requiring actual written parental consent were employed, test administrators adopt the fiction that a failure to respond is tantamount to parental consent in order to achieve the numbers needed to qualify for grant funding for their activities.
Remember it was Rep. Terry Wolf (R) from Bedford who opposed written consent from parents when administering surveys to students.
We hope that as the legislators move forward with this study committee, they will see the need to close the loophole in the federal law and require written parental consent. When greedy Superintendents seek to secure grant funding and purposely withhold information from parents, then it’s good for the state to step in and return local decisions to the parents.