Image Credit: Public Domain
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
The new school year has barely begun and for some Tennessee students this means being given questionable assignments that may violate family privacy and may possibly be masquerading as unofficial surveys. Sources in East Tennessee tell us that high school students were given the assignment pictured below titled About Me last week.
For the assignment, students are asked to recall events from the past and compile them into an essay. Some of the more innocent prompts include:
• Your earliest memory in life.
• Your first day at school.
But others are more personal:
• Describe a time you remember being punished up to ten years old, then again from 11-13, and your most recent time you were punished.
Students were also asked to share their current feelings about their parents and their church attendance.
Within the span of a week, the same students also were asked to rank a variety of statements according to the value the students place on them. Several statements may violate a federal student privacy regulation.
Many of the statements students were asked to rate refer to their religious beliefs.
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232h requires LEAs to notify parents or guardians and to obtain consent – or allow them to opt their child out of – participating in certain school activities. These activities include a student survey, analysis, or evaluation that concerns one or more of the following eight areas:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parent;
2. Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family;
3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
5. Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6. Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or
8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.
Sources tell us that some parents of the students given the essay prompts and questionnaires worry that these activities are a way to skirt the law by calling them “assignments” instead of surveys.
One parent who agreed to talk to us under condition of anonymity so that his children would not be targeted for harassment said that there was no communication in advance of the assignments.
“I have had to teach my kids what their God given constitutional rights are because the “educational system” has failed to do this,” the parent told us. “So my message for parents who are unable to pull their kids out is to stay closely involved with their kids, talk with them regularly about school, listen to what they have to say, pay close attention to how they feel. Share valuable knowledge videos and readings with them about true history, and their constitutional rights… With this recent assignment, we discussed why and how the voluntary answers to some of these questions can be used against a family/parents in a court of law and how seemingly innocent answers can easily be twisted out of context to be used against the child or parents. Kids actually want to know these things because they don’t like to be in the dark any more than we do. Doing all of this will enable them to distinguish the difference between the good, bad and ugly far more easily in a school setting where these lines are intentionally blurred to incite confusion and compliance.”
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at email@example.com.