Fed Ed Data-Mining Racket
March 19, 2013
Last week, I reported on the federal government's massive new student-tracking database, which was created as part of the nationalized Common Core standards scheme.
The bad news: GOP "leadership" continues to ignore or, worse, enable this Nanny State racket (hello, Jeb Bush).
The good news: An independent grassroots revolt outside the Beltway bubble is swelling. Families are taking their children's academic and privacy matters out of the snoopercrats' grip and into their own hands. You can now download a Common Core opt-out/disclosure form to submit to your school district, courtesy of the Truth In American Education group.
Parents caught off guard by the stealthy tracking racket are now mobilizing across the country. Echoing families across the city, Big Apple public advocate Bill de Blasio blasted the tracking database in a letter to government officials, according to the New York Daily News: "I don't want my kids' privacy bought and sold like this." On Wednesday, prompted by parental objections, Oklahoma state representatives unanimously passed House Bill 1989 — the Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act — to prohibit the release of confidential student data without the written consent of a student's parent or guardian.
As I noted in last week's column, the national Common Core student database was funded with Obama stimulus money. Grants also came from the liberal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which largely underwrote and promoted the top-down Common Core curricular scheme). A division of conservative Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. built the database infrastructure. A nonprofit startup, "inBloom, Inc.," evolved out of the strange-bedfellows partnership to operate the invasive database, which is compiling everything from health-care histories, income information and religious affiliations to voting status, blood types and homework completion.
But it gets worse. Research fellow Joy Pullmann at The Heartland Institute points to a February Department of Education report on its data-mining plans that contemplates the use of creepy student monitoring techniques such as "functional magnetic resonance imaging" and "using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids' wrists."
The DOE report exposes the big lie that Common Core is about raising academic standards by revealing its progressive designs to measure and track children's "competencies" in "recognizing bias in sources," "flexibility," "cultural awareness and competence," "appreciation for diversity," "empathy," "perspective taking, trust (and) service orientation."
School districts and state governments are pimping out highly personal data on children's feelings, beliefs, "biases" and "flexibility" instead of doing their own jobs imparting knowledge - or minding their own business. And yes, Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continue to falsely defend the centralized Common Core regime as locally driven and non-coercive, while ignoring the database system's circumvention of federal student privacy laws.
Why? Edu-tech nosy-bodies are using the Common Core assessment boondoggle as a Trojan horse to collect and crunch massive amounts of personal student data for their own social justice or moneymaking ends. Reminder: Nine states have entered into contracts with inBloom: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Louisiana and New York. Countless other vendors are salivating at the business possibilities in exploiting public school students.
Google, for example, is peddling its Gmail platform to schools in a way that will allow it to harvest and access families' information and preferences — which can then be sold in advertising profiles to marketers. The same changes to federal student privacy law (known as FERPA) that paved the way for the Common Core tracking scheme also opened up private student information to Google. As FERPA expert Sheila Kaplan explains it, "Students are paying the cost to use Google's 'free' servers by providing access to their sensitive data and communications."
It's a Big Brother gold rush and an educational Faustian bargain. Fortunately, there is a way out. It starts with parents reasserting their rights, protecting their children and adopting that old motto from the Reagan years: JUST SAY NO.
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