With his usual incisive prose Curtice Mang comments on the loss of patient privacy under Obamacare rules and regulations. (“Tell’em Where It Hurts and Then Some.”) He writes:
It used to be your medical history was between you and your doctor. Now your sex life will be between you and all of your doctors and Kathleen Sebelius, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, the Screen Actors Guild, the Radio City Rockettes, Bo, the presidential dog, and that neighbor down the street who’s got that kind of twitch.”
Add your kids into the equation. It isn’t only students’ medical histories that will be shared with the world; it is everything about them and much about their parents as well. While the public’s attention was elsewhere, the US Department Education was busy paving the way for Common Core State Standards and a national data collection system.
Until recently the Family Rights and Privacy Act protected personally identifiable student information from disclosure to outside agencies. However, in 2012 new USDOE regulations nullified those protections. Educational institutions may now release student records to non-governmental agencies without first obtaining parents’ written consent. The new rules also broaden the permissible purposes for which third parties can access students’ records without first notifying parents. Effective safeguards of student identification are noticeably weak.
If the NSA can’t control misuse of data and banks and other large enterprises can’t stop hackers from obtaining access to computerized records, believing that the DOE or school districts are safe repositories for sensitive student data betrays an excess of naïveté. However, there is more than meets eye, here.
A Reuter’s article datelined February 13, 2011, reports on a …
$100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school. In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion. Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.
Wow! Forget budget overrides – this is a goldmine. But hucksterism is the least troubling aspect of Common Core data requirements.
Although the U.S Department of Education vigorously denies that there is anything nefarious about collecting a massive amount of student data, a draft document published by USDOE illuminates the mindset behind the data gathering.
According to the Executive Summary of “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century,”
“Conventional approaches to improving student outcomes … focus on intellectual aspects of success, such as content knowledge. However that is not sufficient… There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.”
Here are a few scattered quotes to explain in more detail what the authors intend.
Historically, there has been much greater attention to measuring and assessing cognitive competencies, leaving a gap in the field’s methods for assessing the intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies.
For example, data mining techniques can track students’ trajectories of persistence and learning over time, thereby providing actionable feedback to students and teachers. In addition, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and physiological indicators offer insight into the biology and neuroscience underlying observed student behaviors.
Some people equate ‘dispositions’ with traits that people are born with and cannot change. In this brief, and particularly in this section on
measurement, we use the term “disposition” to mean enduring tendencies, independent of any claims about their origin or malleability. We consider dispositions to be enduring tendencies that can be the result of any number of factors in the environment or the individual’s innate temperament.
“Hello muddah, Hello Faddah,” (readers of a certain age will recognize the opening lines of an Alan Sherman song, though the implications here are much more sinister than a summer at “Camp Granada”). Parents almost certainly would be one of the “factors in the environment” requiring “intervention.”
Hillary Clinton once famously wrote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” She was a piker compared to these believers in their own omnipotence. Only they have the wisdom to order our lives and the lives of our children. National standards transfer state authority over education to Washington but, in conjunction with the national data collection system, they do much more than that.
They establish as near to a cradle to grave system as biology permits (Obama is pushing for universal preschool). Using the “techniques” referred to above and others that technology confers, the experts will examine student data to “scientifically” determine who qualifies for vocational training, who attends college and who requires counseling. But the egalitarian goal of progressivism would not be abandoned. For how can there be true social justice when some students are permitted to succeed while others don’t?