What is it about bureaucrats and school personnel that they want to pry into the personal life and habits of American citizens of every age? There seems to be no end to the imperial demands by government and schools to require both grownups and kids to reveal personal information.
The use of nosy questionnaires by the public schools has been a bone of contention between schools and parents for years, but New Jersey recently came up with a question that has parents up in arms. Third-graders were asked on a standardized test to reveal a secret about their lives and explain why it is hard to keep.
This question was asked of 4,000 third-graders in an official test called the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge. This test is supposed to judge elementary school students on their proficiency in math and language arts and determine whether or not a student ends up in basic skills classes.
The school wasn't eager to answer parents' questions, such as: What if a kid answered, "My dad smokes marijuana," or, "My mom drank a beer while driving me home"? Would the school report that to the "child protective" agency?
This question about a secret should have been banned as a violation of the New Jersey law that requires prior parental consent before a student can be required to reveal personal information. That law was sponsored by then-state legislator (now Congressman) Scott Garrett.
It's not just school kids who are the victims of nosy questionnaires. The U.S. government has zeroed in on 250,000 Americans and demanded that they answer nearly a hundred nosy questions about their living and work arrangements and habits.
This is called the American Community Survey questionnaire, and the cover letter states ominously, "You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey." Here are some of the questions.
Does this house, apartment or mobile home have a flush toilet, a bathtub, a stove or range? Which fuel is used most for heating this house, apartment or mobile home?
Last month, what was the cost of electricity for this house, apartment or mobile home? What is the monthly rent for this house, apartment or mobile home?
Do you or any member of this household have a mortgage, deed of trust, contract to purchase or similar debt on this property? How much is the regular monthly mortgage payment on this property?
At any time in the last three months, has this person attended school or college? Is this person currently covered by any health insurance or health coverage plans?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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