Last week I wrote an article about the new Common Core Standards in the US public school system. Since then, I’ve researched it some more and have come to the conclusion that this very likely will further degrade the quality of education in this country, but what I found to be alarming about new standards is the fact that they mandate that a tracking system be used by all states. The standards are to include data mining and it will be extremely comprehensive, will be accessible by the federal government, the companies managing and retrieving the data, marketing companies and more.
What type of information will be contained in the database?
- What data will be collected? According to the new FERPA regulations, pretty much anything. Social security numbers, psychometric and biometric information are not off the table. The National Data Collection model includes over 400 points.
“Biometric record,” as used in the definition for “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting. (pg. 4)
The NEDM data will include -
- Father’s education level
- Mother’s education level
- Family income range
- Family Obligations
- Social Security Number
- Religious Affiliation
- Bus stop arrival time and description
- dwelling arrangement
… and much more
Here’s a general template for what is planned -
North Carolina uses CEDARS (Common Education Data Analysis and Reporting System). This is some (not all) of the categories of data collection that will be used.
The Data Quality Campaign monitors each state’s progress on the data mining objectives. NC has met 8 of the 10 objectives.
Why are states agreeing to this?
It’s all about the money. States apply to the federal government via the Department of Education for a grant, called the SLDS grant – Statewide Longitudinal Data System Recovery Act Grants. The State of NC applied for the grant in 2009 and received an estimated $100 billion in education funding. There are strings attached though.
The federal government lures states with money to get on board with the Common Core Standards. It doesn’t matter that the standards are going to make the education system even worse…..who could pass up $100 billion? However, in doing so, they must agree to this invasive tracking program. It is a requirement. All the money in the world isn’t enough to justify such an assault on our privacy.
Who initiated these programs?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Carnegie Foundation and Rupert Murdoch have funded one of the first companies involved in data collection – inBloom.
The history of inBloom, Inc., illustrates how foundations and other private interests use government power to support private profit-making activities related to public schools. inBloom is collecting a massive education database including sensitive and personally identifiable information, to be stored in “the Cloud.” The project has the financial support of the Gates and the Carnegie Foundations and of Rupert Murdoch, whose Wireless Generation company stands to benefit.
In 1974 the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) became federal law. FERPA limited the authority of school officials to release personally identifiable information about any student, without student or parental consent.
On April 8, 2011 the US Department of Education initiated a proposal to amend the regulations interpreting FERPA. The proposed regulatory change was put out for Notice and Comment as required by the Administrative Practices Act. The Department of Education issued the final amended regulations on December 2, 2011 and they took effect on January 3, 2012.
The amended regulations provided a new definition for three key statutory terms. Under the new definitions, detailed information about students, along with individual student ID numbers or other unique personal identifiers, may be disclosed “non-consensually,” by “an educational agency or institution” with very little constraint. The changes essentially gutted FERPA and removed just about every vestige of parental control over the use and release of personally identifiable information in school records. (article)
Shortly after December 2011 when the amended FERPA regulations were issued, the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) was activated. The SLC’s five member board of trustees included two corporation officers who were affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, one with the Carnegie Foundation, one with the Council of Chief State School Officers, and one was a former state governor affiliated with an educational advocacy organization . SLC was disbanded in November 2012 when the nonprofit organization, inBloom, was created. inBloom, which is supported by $100 million in grants from the Gates and Carnegie foundations, inherited all of the SLC’s software development.
The massive databases that inBloom intends to create are supposed to make it more efficient for school districts to store, access and process data for educational purposes. In theory, it would become possible to tailor instruction from stored data to meet individual student needs. Databases within a district are not always able to “talk” with each other; using a common platform and infrastructure in the Cloud would remedy that problem. If all the various school databases in the nation are also in communicable format in Clouds, it would be possible to examine and collate information on a national scale.
A company called Afectiva has developed a bracelet that can measure a person’s attentiveness. The Bill Gates Foundation also funds this research.
DENVER (Reuters) – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer.” Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.
The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall. The biometric bracelets, produced by a Massachusetts startup company, Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli. The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.
Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out. Existing measures of student engagement, such as videotaping classes for expert review or simply asking kids what they liked in a lesson, “only get us so far,” said Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation. To truly improve teaching and learning, she said, “we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments” such as the biosensors. Read more.
Affectiva also markets emotion readers via facial expressions -
Affectiva began their research by measuring emotions in autistic people. I can’t help but wonder if the Adam Lanza autism story was woven into the Sandy Hook event to suggest that if only he had been monitored, maybe they could have predicted his future behaviors.
As you can see, common core is not simply about national education standards. It’s much more. It’s being used to create the first ever national tracking system of all people from birth throughout life. It goes further by attempting to incorporate all of these creepy, invasive physiological monitoring devices. They suggest they’re to be used as tools but since when can we trust them with anything? They crossed the line with TSA screenings and they’re doing it again – this time in our schools.
How could this potentially play out? Will they determine that certain students aren’t responsive enough in class? Will they suggest medications for them to help improve this? Will they use these monitoring devices to determine when a student is lying? Where will it end?
The U.S. Department of Education is investigating how public schools can collect information on “non-cognitive” student attributes, after granting itself the power to share student data across agencies without parents’ knowledge.
The feds want to use schools to catalogue “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes and intrapersonal resources – independent of intellectual ability,” according to a February DOE report, all under the guise of education.
The report suggests researching how to measure and monitor these student attributes using “data mining” techniques and even functional magnetic resonance imaging, although it concedes “devices that measure EEG and skin conductance may not be practical for use in the classroom.” It delightedly discusses experiments on how kids respond to computer tutors, using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists. Read more.
To be honest, I haven’t been following any of this because my kids are homeschooled but I’m very concerned about this. There hasn’t been much in the news about the tracking programs. I was aware that Common Core was controversial but I had no idea what the full extent of it was.
There is some hope. There’s a group called EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Group) who filed a lawsuit against the DoE. I’ll continue to follow this Common Core mess and will update this post when new information becomes available.
PIC to Defend Student Privacy Rights in Federal Court
On July 24, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg and EPIC Administrative Law Counsel Khaliah Barnes will present arguments in federal district court in Washington, DC in support of student privacy. In EPIC v. Dept. of Education, No. 12-327, EPIC is challenging recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undercut parental consent provisions. In 2011, EPIC submitted extensive comments to the agency opposing the changes. After the Education Department failed to modify the proposed regulation, EPIC filed a lawsuit and argued that the agency exceeded its authority with the changes, and also that the revised regulations are not in accordance with the 1974 privacy law. EPIC is joined in the lawsuit by members of the EPIC Board of Directors Grayson Barber, Pablo Garcia Molina, Peter Neumann, and Deborah Peel. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. The U.S. Department of Education and EPIC: Student Privacy.