Subject: Please vote NO on HB-131 (Public Education Modernization Act)
Date: Sat Mar 01 18:42:15 MST 2014
It is with great concern and urgency that I ask you to VOTE NO on HB-131, the "Public Education Modernization Act". This has been called "the most disastrous bill introduced this year", and I whole-heartedly agree.
There is much uncertainty about this bill, including massive discrepancies about its cost. The bill in a fiscal note that it will cost $200 million, but this is very unlikely. The projected $750 million cost to implement and $300 million/year to maintain is unreasonable and unnecessary.
The lure of giving iPads to each student in the state may seem advantageous, but in reality, it is a fiscal disaster. Let us not make the mistake of other areas that have tried to implement something similar and found that it was a continuing financial disaster as the costs associated with maintaining such were unexpected and unsustainable. (See http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-ipad-adventure-20131120,0,942881.story#axzz2tpzI9IEg)
Is this why we now have another proposed bill (SB-118) in process that will remove the tax credits and penalize families with more than two children? Utah is known for big families, and this would have a crippling effect on the economy and many families. Is this where the money is coming from?
There is no information about who will select the curriculum, or software.
There is information about what choices the local parents, schools, and districts have.
Furthermore, it is will be virtually impossible to keep up with the software and implementation.
The most alarming part of this bill, and there are many alarming parts, is not the iPads. It's what is riding alongside it that will violate our rights and privacy.
This law requires specific data to be stored, forces that these mobile devices are used in the classroom (where is choice?!), legally reinforces the requirement to use Common Core/Utah Core curriculum (which has not been piloted and has much opposition by parents, teachers, and many states alike), expands the statewide network of SLDS and reinforces the CAT testing laws (not good!). In addition, it gives access to third party contractors that would include information that is frankly, just none of their business! This data would include, but is not limited to:- discipline incidents and situations- the level of involvement from parents- the community involvement levelPrivacy must be protected!
Why is parental involvement being tracked? What is the intention behind it? What good is this data, and why is it to be shared amongst the network, and even outside to third party contractors!?
In addition, there is great concern that the board is forced to hire a single technology provider that would provide Utah Core aligned digital instructional materials (193), digital devices (197), Digital content, software, support service, t echnical support, etc.
Having a monopoly on this provider is downright dangerous. It rejects the ability to have more choices, and does not allow the free market to reign. Having one provider creates, as mentioned, a monopoly and makes having checks-and-balances and controls in place very difficult.
Again, I urge you to consider the terrible ramifications of this bill - in so many areas. There is nothing in this bill that is necessary to require law to enforce - please remove the law and let the individual districts retain their ability to run the schools the way they know best. We cannot keep silencing our local districts in our zealousness to over-regulate education. Let the schools get the iPads if they desire. The costs associated, the privacy infringements, the inappropriate and irrelevant data collection, and the monopoly of services are all offensive to the rights of local schools and parents.
Thank you for voting NO on HB 131.