An open letter to Utah legislators,
HB 131- Utah’s Public Education Modernization Act seeks to put a mobile device into the hands of every K-12 student. Its price tag is conservatively estimated at $200,000 million. Realistic estimates put it significantly higher and point out that costs will be ongoing.
This bill injures parental rights, harms the parent/child relationship and endangers taxpayers in the following ways:
1. Injures parental rights by disrespecting the parent’s primary role as educator.
a. HB 131 imposes a one-size-fits-all, technology approach to learning that ignores the diverse approaches to learning that many Utah parent’s value. This injures the parent’s right to choose a different approach for their child.
b. Utah parents, who do not want their child to have access to devices during the entire school day and to be required to use those devices for nightly homework, are injured by this bill.
c. Utah parents who believe that historically proven approaches to classical educations are better than encouraging overuse of technology to “fundamentally change the teaching and learning experience” are also injured by this bill. (Quote from ProjectRed—the group pushing the bill.)
d. Computer adaptive curricula, while appealing, also have the disadvantage of being changed without parental knowledge. Additionally, student-identifiable data collection becomes almost impossible to police.
2. Harms the Parent/Child Relationship by subordinating the parent’s authority
a. Eliminates the parent’s right to control their child’s technology use
b. Elevates the school’s technology policies over the parent’s technology policies (if the child violates family policy, the parent cannot take the technology away when it is required for homework)
c. Causes contention in families by altering the school/parent relationship. The parent and child serve the school’s needs for control, rather than the school serving the parent and child’s needs for education.
d. Creates a power struggle between parents who disagree with technology overuse, schools who require it, and children who are tied to it
3. Makes Utah taxpayers beholden to private interests seeking to dismantle local control of resources
a. ProjectRED is the group behind HB 131 that is seeking to put a mobile device into every child’s hands. There are questions about ProjectRED’s sponsor Intel, Intel’s relationship with IM Flash and IM’s relationship to legislators supporting HB 131. These relationships should be made transparent to Utah taxpayers.
b. ProjectRED’s CEO Leslie Wilson said, “Regions and districts MUST consolidate…to recapture funds to reallocate to ed tech.” This edict benefits ProjectRED, and special interests who jump on the technology bandwagon, NOT Utah taxpayers.
c. Technology is ever-changing. Costs for broken, lost, stolen, or outdated devices cannot be foreseen. Will parents have to pay for broken, lost or stolen devices? Will taxpayers be on the hook for continued upgrades which will further enrich the private interests pushing these policies?
And, in case those reasons just don’t seem good enough to legislators, let’s identify one more problem with HB 131.
The goal to regionalize local school districts and reallocate state’s funds into technology is part of President Obama’s regional equity movement—the movement to reform education by redistributing wealth.
Here’s a partial history:
President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on January 12, 2013. He touted Phase I and announced Phase 2 of his Blueprint to fundamentally transform America’s education system.
He said, “Four years ago we started Race to the Top to develop smarter curricula and higher standards.” (Common Core Standards – Phase I)
Then, he said, “Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to REDESIGN America’s schools so they better equip graduates for a high-tech economy.” (Resource Redistribution – Phase 2)
Utah’s State Board jumped right onto Phase 1’s Common Core, and now Utah’s State Legislature is enacting Phase 2 under the guise of House Bill 131.
The day after the President’s speech, his Equity and Excellence Commission, housed in the US Department of Education, issued a report entitled, For Each and Every Child. It said, “We present a bold new vision of the Federal Role in education….The time has come for the Federal Government to REDESIGN AND REFORM THE FUNDING of our nation’s public schools.”
Many of the players behind this federal push are simply profiteers. Please do not fundamentally alter parental rights and put Utah taxpayers in jeopardy.