Sheila Kaplan, an advocate for children’s privacy rights, spelled out the connection between access to student records by third parties and business interests.
The Council of Chief School Officers (CCSSO) initiated the creation of a $100 million database with funds from the Gates Foundation to track public school students‘ information and academic records from kindergarten through high school. This is called the Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI) and it is now being run by an organization called InBloom, specifically created to operate the system.
The SLI will collect and maintain a range of student data in two “buckets” –
the first will include names, demographic information, discipline history, grade, test results, attendance, standards mastered–the list goes on. While schools may already have much of this data, this information is not usually stored in one place.
The second “bucket” will store information about instructional content and materials that will be linked to student test data in the SLI. Using Learning Resource Metadata Initiative meta-tags and the Learning Registry indexing (both aligned with the Common Core State Standards) this bucket will point to web-based resources.
So how will this work? First student data is shared with vendors. Then the vendors will align their products to Common Core. Internet searches on standards and instructional materials will point to Common Core-aligned resources developed by these vendors. Soon, when you search for education on the Internet, the bulk of the search will be Common Core related.
Clearly this narrows the education enterprise and raises issues of anti-trust and control of the Internet. And what will be the impact on the privacy of students‘ records? InBloom has stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.” The question is: Should we compromise and endanger student privacy to support a centralized and profit-driven education reform initiative?
Given this new landscape of an information and data free-for-all, and the proliferation of data-driven education reform initiatives like Common Core and huge databases of student information, we’ve arrived at a time when once a child enters a public school, their parents will never again know who knows what about their children and about their families. It is now up to individual states to find ways to grant students additional privacy protections.
According to a recent issue of Education Week, InBloom “formed partnerships with nine states that together have more than 11 million students.”
However, some rain has fallen on the InBloom parade. Conservative groups protective of student and family privacy rights have joined forces with liberal organizations “deeply skeptical of a private company playing a primary role in collecting data on public school students.” Six states, initially listed as partners with InBloom, dissolved their relationships with the company, leaving only Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York—“and those ties are now uncertain.”
In New York, the fight is being led by Class Size Matters, an education advocacy group.
“InBloom is only the tip of the iceberg,” Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, said. “It may be the most egregious example, but it is not the only example of companies that have their eyes on personal student data and are going to be data-mining.”
Storing private student data on the Internet, or in the hands of third-party companies that participate in the data-sharing process without specific parental consent to allow access to personal data, is a serious concern for Ms. Haimson.
Education Week’s on-line blog, Digital Education reports: InBloom now plans “ to move toward sustainable business model that charges states and districts a fee to access the service…”
In a now infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, Marc Tucker outlined a plan to transform the entire education system for “human resources development.” Tucker, a political ally of the Clintons, is an influential proponent of using standards to restructure the nation’s schools, and a member of the Common Core Initiative’s development team. In his letter, he recommended “a national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards, a system that rewards students who meet the national standards with further education and good jobs…” It would be “a seamless web” that extends “from cradle to grave…”
“Labor market boards” would be “established at the local, state and federal levels to coordinate the systems for job training, postsecondary professional and technical education, adult basic education, job matching and counseling where counselors would job match by “accessing the integrated computer-based program.” Tucker warned, however, that: “Radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are required to move any combination of these agendas.”
Congressman Bob Schaeffer of Colorado inserted the letter in the Congressional Record of September 25, 1998 (E1820).
But it isn’t only proponents of the administrative state who are pushing the Common Core juggernaut. In addition to textbook publishers and technology CEOs who recognize a business bonanza when they see one, the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable are enthusiastic Common Core backers. A typical endorsement of Common Core from the Business Roundtable demonstrates that the administration’s Kool-Aid has been enthusiastically ingested.
The leadership of these two organizations – not necessarily their members – believes that Common Core will replace unmotivated and poorly educated public school graduates with model employees. Apparently these worthies do not envision their children as part of the “seamless web” attending “non-selective colleges.” And they could be right. Tucker said everyone would be treated equally. But, as in crony capitalism, some will be more equal than others. That assumes, of course, there is nothing in their dossiers to indicate otherwise.
Tucker’s vision of an “an immense and tutelary power,” to borrow from Tocqueville, ordering the nation’s future, does not comport with the America most people would recognize. That America is the one inherited from the generation that fought a revolution to secure liberty and independence. It is disdained by a group with a very different mission. Their American revolution, or in their words, “transformation,” is waged behind closed doors, or by executive fiat. Its weapons are obfuscation, misdirection, lies and bribery. Obama Care and Common Core are two examples of transforming a free people into subjects. There are many others. Most are enacted under the protective coloration of “helping” people. Some are absurd, such as free cell phones at taxpayers’ expense. But they all have one thing in common; they all increase reliance on government. And if the transformation is completed, there will be no holiday to celebrate dependence.
It’s possible no one will notice.
Related sources for these essays: