"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Coming to America" on January 3. It's Already in Britain and It's not Comedic Relief from Eddie Murphy.

"Global, global, global" 

If "global" wasn't a six letter word mantra constantly thrown around in educational "reform" circles, it would be a four letter word banished in polite company.  So much of the education "reform" being foisted on teachers, taxpayers and students ostensibly has to do with the fact we educationally lag behind other countries and our kids need to be more competitive in a global economy.  In this "reform" scenario, the government has no choice but to take control of taxpayers, students, state legislatures and local school districts and "nudge" the general populace into a plan requiring:
  • the grading of teachers and administrators based on student test scores
  • filling teaching positions with inexperienced Teach For America candidates AND "giving" Bill Gates a Department of Education website (government funded) so his foundation can screen applicants
  • privatizing public education with hedge funded charter schools and virtual schools
  • nationalizing standards, assessments and curriculum
  • turning over the writing of the standards and assessments to private companies which have no accountability to taxpayers
  • eliminating the sovereignty of a state's right to set standards for its own citizens
  • creating mandates for states to fulfill which will financially bankrupt states
  • and most egregious of all, establishing a national database on students (over 400 data sets) with personal information that circumvents current FERPA  regulations

Attorneys Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins wrote about the data base last week and the plan for the government to gather data to supply the workforce.  Here is the link with McGroarty's appearance on FOX talking about this data retrieval and the circumvention of the current law and Congress via regulations. 

The Department of Education tells citizens not to worry, the information will be fine and this run around of existing law is no big issue.  Here is the direct quote from Justin Hamilton, DOEd Press Secretary:

"The data is being used to assess the effectiveness of educational programs, not to track individual students.  The NY Post article is an incorrect assessment of what these new regulations set out to do.  Parents can rest assured that their children's personal information is protected better now than it ever has been."

Mr. Hamilton, please spare us the platitudes of:
  • the government is here to help students
  • the government is using personal information such as eye color, voting status, religious affiliation, income and education status of families, gestational age at birth, blood type and other personal data to assess the effectiveness of educational programs
  • the government can protect children's information when it is farmed out to various other federal agencies AND private vendors...when governmental sites are hacked into routinely....can you say "Wikileaks"?
Since when did the use of a public school system include the government requiring the mandated signing away of individual right to privacy of personal data?  Also, would Mr. Hamilton care to expound on exactly what these new regulations set out to do?

Could it be this data being gathered is to establish a managed global economy?  Remember, education "reform" is indeed global.  We only have to look to Britain and its educational database and why it exists.  From The British Department of Education and Workforce Data Standards FAQs:

What is data harmonisation?
In broad terms, this means putting in place common data standards and data sets to create a unified data language, and a shared approach to business practices. Very significant gains can be realised through data harmonisation, ranging from much reduced volumes of data inputting, to the transmission of data in real time.
 Why align workforce data standards and definitions for the local government workforce?
This is an initiative which has arisen directly in response to local authorities' feedback over the past few years. The current fragmented approach of different data standards for different data collections (especially in areas with cross sector interest, e.g. children's services) is burdensome both in terms of time and money for local authorities, providers and national bodies and hampers the exchange and sharing of data. It also reduces the quality and usefulness of the data collected.
 Why harmonise data standards and definitions now?
The proposed provision of common standards and definitions is a recognition of the new challenges and complexities faced by local authorities and other service providers as they respond to the requirements of the School Workforce Census (SWF), the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC), the Local Government Earnings Survey and other major national collections.

NOWHERE in this British document does it state this data is to "assess the effectiveness of educational programs".  It's strictly to provide information to other national agencies and the workforce.  How does this document align itself to the US desire for data and its reasons?  From an Illinois Data System Warehouse document that also lists the personal data ready to be gathered on your child:

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), along with our Education Partners, is now actively moving forward with the design and development of the state-wide Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS).  The system, when fully deployed, will provide data to help to track the outcomes of Illinois students as they progress from Pre-K through Postsecondary education, and as they enter the workforce.  Longitudinal data supports an in-depth, comprehensive view of students’ progress and will ultimately help guide policymakers on where to invest time and energy to most effectively improve student achievement in our State. (emphasis added)

The ILDS is defined by Public Act 96-0107 and enabled through federal funding, and instructs the State Board of Education to link student test scores, length of enrollment and graduation records over time.  The system also will connect students to career planning and resources, with the potential to facilitate the application process for financial aid and records for transfer students.
ILDS will serve a large stakeholder group, including:

  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Local Education Authorities
  • Regional offices of education and intermediate service centers
  • Parents and other members of the general public
  • State Legislatures
  • News media
  • Research organizations
  • Postsecondary Institutions
  • State workforce and higher education agencies
  • Education Partners

Question: if the information is to assess educational programs, is the information to help the student (to become good citizens) or to help the state (to provide workers for its purpose)?   The ultimate goal is for this data to supply the workforce:
The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.

The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)

From US government documents it's obvious human capital is being groomed to be assigned to any purpose in a nation's workforce. In the sentence detailing the "partnership" of this system, what stakeholder is missing?  The student, the human capital is not mentioned as having power in the system.  If the information was to be used for educational assessment information solely, the data would focus on test scores, not personal information.  The various agencies in the US obtaining this data (similar to the agencies in Britain)  will use it to foster economic development, not for the personal development of your human widget.  

Here's another government document from the National Education Data Model listing data sets the regulations will require and allow your school to gather:

Manage, secure, analyze, and report student data to stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, administrators) in ways that are useful and appropriate for the particular type of stakeholder.

 Again, how is personal data such as eye color, voting status, religious affiliation, etc useful and appropriate for these stakeholders to know?  What DOES this have to do with the government providing a free education to American citizens?  Why is this information necessary for educational "reform"?  Could Mr. Hamilton answer these questions and specifically inform the citizens why the laws are being circumvented to protect student and family data?

Better yet, could Congress answer why it is allowing laws protecting citizen rights to be displaced in favor of governmental regulations that serve the government's purpose?  Since when did citizens belong to a system and become widgets in the economy and a means to an end for the governmental/private workforce?

From The National Skills Coalition on the data systems linking with the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services:

"By linking their education with workforce data and tracking education and employment program participants over time, states can see how well students in education programs are securing career path jobs in fields of importance to local economies".

In other words, the education of the human capital is of importance to the economy and workforce.  How well students are performing to become who THEY decide to be is inconsequential.  The workforce is directing the human capital, not the other way around.  

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