Part 2 of 9 covers "Data Mining the Minds of Arizona’s Children."
Please click HERE to read Part 1 of 9: "How Arizona Got Tangled up In Common Core" and "Race to the Top (RTTT) Money – Did the Arizona State Board of Education Ignore Arizona Law?"
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Amendment IV: The Constitution of the United States
Data mining and sharing personally identifiable student information, without the knowledge or consent of parents, is one of the more sinister aspects of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Until recently, most parents haven’t questioned the protection of their children’s privacy. Indeed, the schools, state, and federal government constantly reassure parents and the public that student data is protected. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was signed into law in 1974,guaranteeing parental access to student education records. It also guaranteed that parents must give written permission before a school was permitted to release educational records or personally identifiable information to any individual, agency, or organization. There were few exceptions. See FERPA.
So, why worry that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has been spending millions of dollars gathering “data” on every child enrolled in Arizona’s pre-K-12 educational system? After all, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Arne Duncan stated in no uncertain terms that Common Core does not call for federal collection of student data; and further, Secretary Duncan has asserted, the “USDOE isn’t allowed to collect data, and it won’t.” See Duncan Pushes Back on Attacks on Common Core Standards.
We are assured that information obtained is “aggregated.” That is, data is collected into one statistical bunch. No names are used. An example might be “In 2013, 96% of 9th graders at Heritage Academy passed the English AIMS test.”
Surely, ADE would not allow the following kind of information to fall into the hands of private contractors, outside agencies, the federal government, and others: “The low scorer was Jimmy Jones. He was identified as needing ‘intervention.’ His teacher, Ms. Smith, will provide him with various online practice sets and monitor his progress to see what is most effective in raising his test score.”
Or would they?
When the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) applied to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for Phase 1 Race to the Top funding in January 2010 promising to adopt the CCSS, and in March 2010 when Arizona applied for Phase 2 Race to the Top funding, those applications included a litany of “assurances.”
In addition to promising the feds that Arizona would adopt the CCSS, ADE also assured the USDOE that it had fulfilled their requirement to install a Student Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). The system also had to be "interoperable," meaning that it shares student data with other systems within the state, across state lines, and with the federal government. Accompanying the Phase 2 application was the text of proposed legislation: HB2733. There were also many references to Arizona’s “P-20” system.
HB2733 was signed into law in May 2010. This bill proved to the USDOE that Arizona was serious about ensuring that its student data gathering system was accessible via internet browsers, and that it could carry out data collection, compilation, and reporting duties.
Arizona’s P-20 system adds another dimension to data tracking, in that students are tracked from preschool all the way through assimilation into the workforce. (The "P" stands for preschool. The “20” stands for 20 years of tracking.)
How the USDOE Gutted FERPA
It would take an Act of Congress to change FERPA. However, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has gotten around the law by issuing various “administrative regulations” that have broadened the “interpretation” of the entities that are allowed to obtain a student’s “personally identifiable information.”
The USDOE has also changed the definition of student “personally identifiable information” to include biometric data, such as “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.”
One organization that is extremely concerned about USDOE’s mischief is EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), which filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education. Here is an excerpt from EPIC’s suit:
"In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Education(ED) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), inviting public comments on its proposed regulations amending the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). The proposed regulations removed limitations prohibiting educational institutions and agencies from disclosing student personally identifiable information, without first obtaining student or parental consent. For example, the proposed FERPA regulations reinterpreted FERPA statutory terms ‘authorized representative,’ ‘education program,’ and ‘directory information.’ This reinterpretation gives non-governmental actors increased access to student personal data.
“EPIC’s public comments stated that by designating non-governmental actors as ‘authorized representatives’ of state educational institutions, the ED would perform an ‘unauthorized, unlawful sub-delegation of its own authority.’ EPIC’s comments further stated that by expanding the definition of ‘educational programs,’ the ED would expose ‘troves of sensitive, non-academic data.’ EPIC’s comments stated that the proposed regulations permitting schools to ‘disclose publicly student ID numbers that are displayed on individuals cards or badges . . . insufficiently safeguard students from the risks of re-identification.’ EPIC recommended to the ED that the proposed regulations should be withdrawn because they were contrary to law and exceeded the scope of the agency’s rulemaking authority.” See EPIC vs.The U.S. Department of Education
On September 26, 2013, the Court dismissed EPIC’s lawsuit, holding that neither EPIC nor any of its Board of Director co-plaintiffs "have standing to bring the claims asserted in the complaint."
On June 29, 2012, confident that nobody could stop it, the United States Department of Education ignored EPIC and filed regulatory changes to the FERPA law. See the Department of Education’s “Final Regulations” regarding FERPA.
In October 2012, the White House hosted an Education “Datapalooza,” including videotaped presentations by some of the “non-governmental actors” that EPIC warned about in its lawsuit against the USDOE.
Public Backlash Begins
Even though EPIC lost its lawsuit, the actions by the USDOE have not gone unnoticed. Follows are just a few of the responses to those actions.
In April 2013, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) sent a letter to USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan, expressing “concerns with the Department’s circumvention of Congress to reform education policy,” as well as “concerns with the implementation of Common Core standards and changes to federal data collection and disbursement policies.” See Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan
In October 2013, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan about his grave concerns relating to sensitive student information falling into private hands. He cited recent changes made by the USDOE to the FERPA law. See Edward J. Markey’s Letter to Secretary Arne Duncan . He also referenced an article in the New York Times titled "Deciding who sees Students’ Data.”
In the letter, Senator Markey expressed his concern that a “growing number of school districts are outsourcing data storage functions to outside companies.” He also stated that while “better analysis of student reading, for example, may help educators better target the appropriate reading materials to students, disclosure of such information, which may extend well beyond the specific private company hired by the school district to a constellation of other firms with which the district does not have a business relationship, raises concerns about the degree to which student privacy may be compromised.”
"Over the past decade, a slew of new federal incentives and federally funded data models have spurred states to monitor students’ early years, performance in college, and success in the workforce by following ‘individuals systematically and efficiently across state lines.’ We believe that this expansion of state databases is laying the foundation for a national database filled with personal student data.
"The Department of Education laid the foundation for a nationally linkable, comprehensive database in January 2012 when it promulgated regulations altering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA formerly guaranteed that parents could access their children’s personally identifiable information collected by schools, but schools were barred from sharing this information with third parties. Personally identifiable information is defined by FERPA as information ‘that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty,’ including names of family members, living address, Social Security number, date and place of birth, disciplinary record, and biometric record. However, the Department of Education has reshaped FERPA through regulations so that any government or private entity that the department says is evaluating an education program has access to students’ personally identifiable information. Postsecondary institutes and workforce education programs can also be given this data. This regulatory change absent congressional legislation has resulted in a lawsuit against the Department of Education, though a judge in the U.S. District Court for D.C. dismissed the suit on an issue of standing."
"Every state that agrees to the Common Core in order to receive RTTT funding also commits ‘to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 [preschool through workforce] longitudinal data systems’ that can be used in part or in whole by other states.
See also the Jane Robbins, Esq., Senior Fellow, American Principles Project video titled “How does Common Core Encourage Data Collection of Private Information on Students”?
See also: "Are Common Core Standards Actually Data Tags?" "We’ve been saying that CCSS are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked. The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done."
You recall earlier in this article that I mentioned that the White House had hosted an Educational "Datapalooza" in November 2012? Knewton was one of the featured guests. Click HERE to see Knewton’s White House presentation.
See this from Data Mining Your Children
“The NSA has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton.
“The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday.”
More on Knewton:
“Behind the data generating-and-collecting behemoth that is Pearson is a company called Knewton. And here’s a video from the November 2012 Education Datapalooza (a name that I did NOT make up, but was officially given the event by the Dept of Education, because they are so hip.” Who Puts the Scary in Pearson: Meet Knewton.
So, what’s happening in Arizona?
Brad McQueen, a Tucson, Arizona fifth grade teacher, author, and vocal opponent of CCSS, has written a book as well as numerous articles about the breaches of "protected" student information.
In this June 14, 2014 article titled Common Core’s NSA-like Data Suctioning Secret Rears its Ugly Head, Mr. McQueen writes:
“Superintendents in Common Core/PARCC states knowingly permitted a private company, PARCC, Inc., to apparently suction all manner of data from their states’ students, according to an internal email obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent, all this while they were working on the PARCC’s Data Privacy and Security Policy.”
In this October 13, 2014 article titled TS Gold and Common Core’s Data Suctioning in our Preschools, Mr. McQueen writes:
“The state of Arizona still does not have a statewide assessment to test the new Common Core Standards, but since 2011 it has had an assessment/data gathering machine in place courtesy of the private company, TS Gold, to gather personal/emotional data on your child from birth to kindergarten if they attended an Arizona Department of Education affiliated preschool/day care center.”
In this October 20, 2014 article, “National Science Foundation Grants $5 million to Carnegie Mellon University to Suction Student Data,” Mr. McQueen reveals the extent to which the data mining craze has metastasized and is occurring, without parental knowledge, while your children are at school. And, since this grant was provided by the federal government, “you can bet it will have access to all that data. “
According to McQueen, “The data predators’ targets will include all that ‘educational’ gaming, teaching, and tutoring software that is offered to teachers for free that your kids usually use in school during computer time. “
The truth is, “educational stakeholders” include a plethora of private entities, and they’ve have been having a field day getting to know your children better than you do. Remember, the software is “free”!
Please keep in mind that your child doesn’t understand that private information about your family should be kept “private.” Your child’s teachers know if you have guns at home. They know your political leanings. They know about your family’s financial situation. They know everything your child is willing to tell them.
Mr. McQueen describes these issues, and much more, in his book The Cult of Common Core: Obama’s Final Solution for your Child’s Mind and out Country’s Exceptionalism
Arne Duncan Intimidates and Insults Anti-Common Core Parents
In spite of all the growing evidence against Common Core, in June 2013, USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan mocks and belittles parents’ concerns, and he sneers at their “ignorance” for confusing standards with curriculum.” Stated Duncan: “When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.” Duncan Pushes Back on Attacks on Common Core Standards
Silicon Valley Executives Shun Computers in the Classroom
Did you know that Steve Jobs wouldn’t allow his kids to possess an IPad, or any kind of computer technology? See “Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let his Kids Use IPads and Why you Shouldn’t Either.”
Did you know that employees of Silicon Valley giants like eBay, Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard send their children to a charter school that does NOT allow computers? See “At the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology can Wait.”
Learning to use a computer is a simple skill that can be picked up in a computer class. It takes less time than learning to drive a car. So why equip every child and every classroom with this extremely expensive technology?
With the near religious fervor that "Datapalooza" non-governmental actors attach to computer technology, do you still believe that the schools are capable of protecting your child’s personally identifiable information even if they wanted to?
Sources: Data Mining the Minds of Arizona’s Children
Jane Robbins, Esq., Senior Fellow, American Principles Project video titled “How does Common Core Encourage Data Collection of Private Information on Students”?
Click HERE to see Knewton’s White House presentation
Pearson was a featured speaker at the White House’s Education "Datapalooza."