Common Core – The Feds’ Invasive Student-Tracking Database

By Michelle Malkin – from National Review Online –

While many Americans worry about government drones in the sky spying on our private lives, Washington meddlers are already on the ground and in our schools gathering intimate data on children and families.

Say goodbye to your children’s privacy. Say hello to an unprecedented nationwide student-tracking system, whose data will apparently be sold by government officials to the highest bidders. It’s yet another encroachment of centralized education bureaucrats on local control and parental rights under the banner of “Common Core.”

As the American Principles Project, a conservative education think tank, reported last year, Common Core’s technological project is “merely one part of a much broader plan by the federal government to track individuals from birth through their participation in the workforce.” The 2009 porkulus package included a “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” to bribe states into constructing “longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students.”

These systems will aggregate massive amounts of personal data — health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status, and even blood types and homework-completion rates. The data will be available to a wide variety of public agencies. And despite federal student-privacy protections guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Obama administration is paving the way for private entities to buy their way into the data boondoggle. Even more alarming, the U.S. Department of Education is encouraging a radical push from aggregate-level data-gathering to invasive individual-student-level data collection.

At the South by Southwest education conference in Austin, Texas, this week, education-technology gurus were salivating at the prospects of information plunder. “This is going to be a huge win for us,” Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at education software company CompassLearning, told Reuters. Cha-ching-ching-ching.

The company is already aggressively marketing curricular material “aligned” to fuzzy, dumbed-down Common Core math and reading guidelines (which more than a dozen states are now revolting against). Along with two dozen other tech firms, CompassLearning sees even greater financial opportunities to mine Common Core student-tracking systems. The centralized database is a strange-bedfellows alliance between the liberal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which largely underwrote and promoted the Common Core curricular scheme) and a division of conservative Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (which built the database infrastructure).

Another nonprofit startup, “inBloom, Inc.,” has evolved out of that partnership to operate the database. The Gates Foundation and other partners provided $100 million in seed money. Reuters reports that inBloom, Inc. will “likely start to charge fees in 2015” to states and school districts participating in the system. “So far, seven states — Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Massachusetts — have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.”

The National Education Data Model, available online, lists hundreds of data points considered indispensable to the nationalized student tracking racket. These include:

“Bus Stop Arrival Time” and “Bus Stop Description”

“Dwelling arrangement”

“Diseases, Illnesses and Other Health Conditions”

“Religious Affiliation” “Telephone Number Type” and “Telephone Status”

Home-schoolers and religious families that reject traditional government education would be tracked. Original NEDM data points included hair color, eye color, weight, blood types, and even dental status.

How exactly does amassing and selling such personal data improve educational outcomes? It doesn’t. This, at its core, is the central fraud of Washington’s top-down nationalized curricular scheme. The Bill Gates-endorsed Common Core “standards” are a phony pretext for big-government expansion. The dazzling allure of “21st-century technology” masks the privacy-undermining agenda of nosy bureaucratic drones allergic to transparency, accountability, and parental autonomy. Individual student privacy is sacrificed at the collective “For the Children” altar.

Fed ed is not about excellence or academic achievement. It’s about control, control, and more control.

UPDATE –  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.

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Werner Strasser
9 years ago

This is scary.
In the past we were promised and indoctrinated that first the radio then the TV then the space program and finally the computer will give us all the advances in education we need. Did it? Yes, it did dumb us down and added unrecoverable cost.
Now the new twist of tailoring education to the pupils using private information is pursued. Why, because again, it will be very profitable and the best way to evade accountability? So we will be able to point our fingers at the database and algorithms if the “system” has failed to educate our children. The fact that parents are not informed that these systems will aggregate massive amounts of personal data, and that absolutely nobody can guarantee the security or confidentiality of the information is most disturbing.
This is a grotesque, clandestine evasion of privacy by government that cannot be allowed to stand!

9 years ago

Just another incremental step towards the Big Brother of 1984. The article speaks about privacy concerns, but with all the data mining the government already does via access to Google, Facebook and countless other social media and on-line sites, that issue has been buried years ago. Now it’s about micro-management of the population. Soon the government will be able to accurately predict your daily movements and actions before you even think about what you’re going to do each day. Just like lab rats running around in a little maze.

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