SETRA: aka “Strengthening Statism through Data Sets”


Here is a refresher article from MEW, February 2015 on the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA).  SETRA was introduced by Senator Lamar Alexander and the main objections were noted via American Principles in Action:

American Principles in Action’s concerns with SETRA are three-fold:

1.) SETRA reauthorizes ESRA, the Education Sciences Reform Act, first passed in 2002, which facilitates intrusive data collection on students. ESRA began the idea of state longitudinal databases, which created the structure that would facilitate a de facto national student database. ESRA also eliminated previous penalties for sharing and otherwise misusing student data.

2.) SETRA allows for psychological profiling of our children, raising serious privacy concerns. Section 132, page 28 of SETRA: “…and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively…”
This means the federal government will continue to promote collection of students’ psychological information. APIA does not support allowing the federal government to maintain psychological dossiers on our children.

3.) SETRA depends on FERPA to protect student privacy, legislation that is now outdated and has been gutted by regulation. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, passed in 1974, and is no longer sufficient to protect student privacy in the age of technology. Even worse, the Obama Administration gutted FERPA so that it no longer offers the protections it once did.


The Senate *indefinitely* suspended SETRA on February 28, 2015 but as parents have discovered, legislation appears again in different forms with different names and placed on consent calendars with no voice votes.  Read what the Senate has in mind for your student in 2016.  From Jane Robbins, American Principles Project, January 2016 (*indefinite* just means sooner than later):



Having given the Obama administration just what it wanted with the education bill (ESSA), the Senate has now passed (without a recorded vote) a bill called SETRA that will encourage governments to analyze our children’s social and emotional makeup. Here is an article that explains the problem:

SETRA will come up in the House very soon.

The bill will probably be on the consent calendar, which means no recorded vote will be taken. But any member of Congress can object to its inclusion on the consent calendar, in which case politicians who want the government to create psychological dossiers on our children will at least have to go on record as supporting that Orwellian practice.
Please call your member of Congress at 202.224.3121 and tell him or her to
— object to SETRA’s inclusion on the consent calendar;
— vote NO if/when a vote is taken.
For those of you in GA, remember that only Reps. Hice and Loudermilk resisted the pressure to vote for the fed-ed bill (ESSA), which passed as a result of collusion between the Obama administration and Republican leadership:
The other members of the delegation need to understand that selling out our children yet again is unacceptable. As the ESSA experience proves, Republican leadership cannot be relied on to tell the truth about what these bills do or don’t do, so they should be listening to you rather than to Paul Ryan or John Kline. Please make the call. Thank you!

An excerpt from Effrem’s Pulse article:

Apparently even the NAEP test will be revised to psychologically profile our children. According to Education Week, the National Assessment Governing Board plans to use NAEP to assess “mindsets” and other parameters starting in 2017. Although this is supposedly illegal under federal law governing NAEP (not changed by the new language of SETRA), the prohibition is meaningless because there is no enforcement mechanism.

Colluding with large corporations that want our children’s data for their own purposes or theorizing that psychological “skills” instead of academics will improve the workforce, the federal government is expanding the areas of law and policy where psychological profiling is encouraged. Here is a list of several of those areas (also including early childhood programs). Big Brother seeks to remove every shred of student privacy — if parents can’t keep even their child’s psychological makeup safe from government probing, their God-given autonomy has been obliterated.


Not only is this bill egregious for what the data gathered and emotional labels slapped on children, this is an onslaught on individual liberty by elected officials (many of whom are Republican who were voted in to deter the power of the Federal government and agencies).  Call your House officials again.  Ask them how this bill in advances personal liberty and reduces the Federal government’s spending and power.  Ask them to give you an example (we’d love to hear the response).  Ask your House representative if SETRA is indeed the embodiment of statism:


(If you live in Missouri, Representative Jason Smith was the only representative to vote against ESSA.  Here is the list of the remaining elected House representatives.)



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