RAPID CITY, S.D. – It seems that a Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS) survey of middle school students is yet another example of unwarranted government intrusion into the personal lives of kids and of parental authority.
The survey wants to know a lot about students’ lives: drug use, drinking habits and, of course, their sexual habits, as well among other things. When a couple of concerned moms went to the school to see the survey for themselves, they were told that showing them the questions would compromise the results.
Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project is not surprised. She says “educational progressives” cut parents out because parents “aren’t experts” and might tend to compromise the results.
“They might pull their child out of something, or question something. And they can’t have that because that messes up the whole plan.”
The moms were somehow able, however, to get some pictures of some of the 10-pages of the survey.
Here are some examples of the questions from one page: The options are Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree.
* People lie and cheat to get ahead.
* It is okay to hit someone if they are mean to me.
* It is okay to lie or cheat so I don’t feel bad
* It is okay to lie and cheat as long as you don’t hurt anyone.
* I have a responsibility to help other people
* If I see something I think is wrong, I try to do something about it.
* It is okay to lie on an application if it means getting a better job.
* It is okay to use people to get something important as long as they are not really hurt by it.
* A person should do the right thing no matter what happens.
* I can accept another person’s opinion that is different from my own.
* I respect the fact that each person is different in beliefs, culture, and ethnicity. (It is okay for people to be different.)
* I believe honesty is the best policy. (It is always best to tell the truth.)
Those aren’t too controversial. However, on another page, were these questions:
* I did not use prescription medications in order to get high in the past 30 days.
* In the past 30 days, I have used prescription medications in order to get high
– 1 time
– 2 times
– 3 times
– 4 or more times
* Have you ever taken a non-prescription medication such as cough or cold medicine to get high (Some medications can be sold legally without a doctor’s prescription by drugstores, through the mail, etc. These non-prescription or “over the counter” drugs include cough syrup or cold medicine.)?
* How old were you when you first took non-prescription medication such as cough or cold medicine to get high? (The options for answers for this question start with 5 and go up to 19.)
* In the past six months, how many times did you use non-prescription medication such as cough or cold medicine to get high?
– I did not use non-prescription medications such as cough or cold medicine to get high in the past six months.
– Once or twice
– 3 to 5 times
– 6 or more times
The questions on another page:
* Have ridden with someone who has been drinking or intoxicated?
* In the past year, about how many times did your parent or family member talk about not having sex? (Choices are zero times up to 4 or more times.)
* In the past 30 days, how many times have you had sex? (Choices are zero to 4 or more times.)
The survey for RCAS is conducted by the Chiesman Center for Democracy, Inc.
Tonchi Weaver of South Dakota Citizens for Liberty, asociated with the Tea Party, says RCAS is not the only one conducting the survey. Schools throughout South Dakota have similar plans to conduct similar surveys.
Mary Scheel-Buysse is with South Dakotans Against Common Core says she grew up in South Dakota and is now a grandmother. She says these surveys have gone on since she was in school. But back then it was a one-page, printed survey that was anonymous. Now she is concerned that today’s much longer survey is much more invasive. And she doesn’t like the fact that students take it online.
“…if pupils have to log into their electronic device…then the results are personally identifiable,” she said.
Robbins agrees noting that even the U.S. Postal Service was hacked into recently. So she thinks such surveys may or may not be anonymous.
She says these surveys are not directly related to Common Core. But she says, “It’s all part of an educational progressive mindset. [Educational progressives] have got to have every school doing the same standards and ultimately with the same curriculum. And [they’ve] got to collect data on anything and everything because otherwise how can we know what’s effective and what’s not effective.”
Robbins says they’ve got to know everything in order to control everything.
Moreover, the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed the Student Privacy Act (SB63) last year, which requires schools to get parental consent before administering surveys about behaviors, beliefs, attitudes and dispositions, all the kinds of data the “educational progressives” desire.
Weaver says there is great concern among parents about data collection associated with Common Core.
“And that was the spirit of the law, that it [surveys] can’t be done without the approval of the parents.”
Weaver said the Rapid City schools sent an opt-out form home with students with instructions that if parents wanted to opt their children out, they were to send the form back.
“So they were basically giving parents the false impression that unless they opted their children out, the school had the authority to give this survey to their child,” she said. “In other words, they were saying there’s implied consent if the school doesn’t get the form back.”
She says there’s also the problem that a lot of kids don’t always give their parents a lot of the things they come home with from school. So there could be a lot of parents that don’t even know about the survey.
Weaver thinks that RCAS could have been acting in violation of the law.
“By sending out the opt-out form, I think in itself, is something of a violation,” she said, “because I think the intent was to hoodwink parents to think the school could legally administer the survey without an objection from the parents.”
Dr. Tim Mitchell, RCAS Superintendent of the Rapid City Area Schools admits that the surveys are all about data collection to get federal and state grants. He announced that they are postponing the survey for now and admits they are looking for a legal way to give this survey without getting specific written parental consent from each student’s parent or guardian.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Stalzer, contacted the Sioux Falls School District, which was planning to conduct a student survey, and informed them SB63 requires parental permission from each and every parent before a survey of that nature could be given. So the Sioux Falls School District abruptly postponed their survey, which was to have taken place last week.
It seems that every school in South Dakota, public or private, would be in the same situations the Sioux Falls and Rapid City Area Schools are in.