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Forced Mental Intrusion

Yesterday, my sixteen-year-old, tenth grade daughter took the Minnesota Basic Skills Test in writing developed by the Department of Children, Families, and Learning. Today, I am looking for an attorney.

The Basic Skills Writing Test consists of asking all Minnesota tenth grade students one identical question and having them put their answer in writing. Here is the question the way teachers across the state were told to prompt it:

"Your teacher has asked you to write about one thing you would like to change about yourself. Name one thing about yourself and give specific reasons why you would like to change it. Give enough details so your teacher will understand your ideas."

For the last two years, I have been an educational activist, but I have always been able to keep my burning disgust for the educational assault on our children in a manageable perspective. This time, the MN Department of Children, Families, and Learning has gone too far.

Never have I seen such a blatant disrespect for a student's privacy or personal information. This is an outright attack on the fundamental principles of a free society. Under what authority does the State of Minnesota have the right to collect personal, private thoughts and information from my child in the name of a writing test?

How contemptible to force students to articulate their most insecure thoughts into writing as a requirement to graduate. I am sick that they knew I, the parent, would not be there to protect my child and to say no. There is no more trust. We have just come to the end of trust in public school. Trust does not exist, and children are not protected.

The State of Minnesota used the interpersonal relationship between the student and the teacher to gain access to the child's thoughts. The question clearly refers to the teacher needing the details, not the state. How dare the State use the teacher, who cannot and will never even read the test, to be the one that the student believes is the grader and receiver of the information!

The teachers were forced to lie to the students. They were not requiring the information but they had to read them the question that said the opposite. Teachers, knowing better, administered the test anyway. This shows the incredible dominance and fear behind this state system upon our local districts. If our good teachers will not object to this treatment of students, how can we expect our children to resist? Students were uncomfortable, frustrated, confused and depressed. Teachers have reported seeing the students' very personal comments about their insecurity of appearance, their weight, their personal frailties, attitude concerns and religious beliefs.

What happens if a student says that she feels bad about the way she purges her food after she eats it or what about the young boy who feels guilty about a relative touching him in inappropriate places? What happens if the state collects this type of information? Moms and Dads must know that the DCFL now oversees the Department of Human Services, the Department of Corrections and fourteen other state agencies. They are more than willing to step into your child's life. This type of information should be discussed between your child and the appropriate person, not be gathered on a 10th grade state writing test!

The innermost personal data that was collected on your and my tenth grader yesterday, is today part of a permanent state record for them to use in any way they wish. Our children have just had a significant piece of information added to their personal portfolio. This information may be available to employers in the days ahead, and the DCFL is at liberty to use it or share it with whomever they wish.

It takes a search warrant for the State to collect information out of a personnel file, but the state now brazenly collects personal information on unsuspecting children on tests that they must take to graduate. We just cannot stand by and watch it happen. We are their parents and we must protect them.
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The American family is under attack. From every direction, we must constantly fend off the bureaucratic takeover of our lives and our children. Government intervention into our daily lives is becoming routine with the psyche of our children being manipulated and extracted. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the citizens were shocked to find warehouses full of personal files on private citizens. Is this what we are coming to? The government has no business having personal files on law-abiding citizens. Surveillance of this type is the hallmark of government power out of control.

If you have a son or daughter who took the Basic Skills Writing Test yesterday and would like more information about a class action law suit against the State of Minnesota and the Department of Children, Families, and Learning, please contact me at this email address.

Thank you,

Renee T. Doyle,
President
EdWatch
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