"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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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Arne Duncan is Wrong. The Pressing Issue in Civil Rights is not Education, it's the Right to Protect Your Information from Arne Duncan.

Missouri received $890,000 from the Federal government in 2010 to expand its data capturing and reporting ability for school children in public education.  Everything's coming up data...teacher evaluations are to be made on data and the future of your child will be made on data.  Creativity, ingenuity and individualism, qualities for entrepreneurship, will be difficult to assess via standardized testing and based on what the data will be used for, these qualities may be quashed in the quest for the perfect worker.  Your human capital needs to craft a good data set to be acceptable and employable in the work sector.  Think of it as human capital selection in the workforce without the personal interview.

It's from 2010, but it's important to understand the intent of information use of these  educational longitudinal data bases.  From the Department of Labor's news release:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $12.2 million to 13 states through the Workforce Data Quality Initiative. These funds will enable states to build or expand longitudinal databases of workforce data that also link to education data. States will use these longitudinal databases to conduct research and analysis aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of employment and training programs to better inform workforce system customers. 

"These grants are an important part of the administration's efforts to increase the availability and use of high-quality data," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "By developing and improving databases, states will help those seeking training make better informed decisions, all while more clearly demonstrating the link between employment and education in the long-term success of workers." 

Funding will be used by 11 states to expand and improve linkages between education and employment in existing longitudinal databases. These include Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Two additional states, Louisiana and Minnesota, will develop and implement new systems. 
Education is designed to train your human capital to become a better worker.  States need money to attain the Department of Labor's goal of data base expansion and usage.  These grants are just a drip in the ocean of cost of these data bases.  It's difficult to determine the total cost to states for this federal mandate, but here is one example regarding Florida's expense from The Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA):

Exhibit 1 The Department Has Spent $20.9 Million for the Development and Operation of the Education Data Warehouse Since 2000.

This $20.9 Million expenditure is just through 2009 for one state. 

K-12 money to be made is quite lucrative for those vendors anxious to jump on the data train, so it is no wonder those private vendors are elbowing their way onto the train.  Ed Week reports:

The flow of venture capital into the K-12 education market has exploded over the past year, reaching its highest transaction values in a decade in 2011, industry observers say.

Venture capital transaction values in the K-12 field, which include both public and private schools, increased from roughly $130 million in 2010 to $334 million last year, according to data from the Chicago-based GSV Advisors.

Precollegiate education historically has not been an easy market for venture capitalists to break into, analysts say, but certain factors are contributing to a higher awareness of this market for investors.

Venture capitalists generally look for "high-growth opportunities" and rely on the ability to scale up new enterprises quickly, said Mr. Newman. So the common standards in English/language arts and math, for instance, which have been adopted by all but four states, are contributing to companies' perception of a potential for fast growth in standards-related ventures across a larger market, he said.

As you read about the motivation for venture capitalists to jump on this data train, do you detect "but..but..it's for the KIDS"?  No, it's for the money.  It's for the ability to track.  It's for the data.  And the taxpayers are paying for the opportunity for the private sector to take your child's data, manipulate it , sell it, provide it to private organizations and federal organizations so your child can become a productive worker in society.

The rescinding of the common core standards may be one of the most important civil rights issues of our time.  The data bases will collapse on themselves without the common core assessments to track the common human capital.  Apologies to Arne Duncan for stealing his line:

President Obama and I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our time....

Education is not the civil rights issue of our time.  The civil rights issue of our time has to do with protecting personal liberty and right to privacy.  The pressing civil rights issue is to ensure students, parents and taxpayers are not forced to provide data to the Federal government or private companies.  You and your children are more than data sets and your personal liberties are being stripped away.  Where is Arne Duncan's concern about personal privacy and the right to opt out? 


  1. Because I work for a school district, I have to post this anonymously. The update on data consisted of 2 things as far as I can tell- Hispanic or non-Hispanic and enabled you to indicate more than one race on the profile of a student. How that will be used remains to be seen.

  2. Adam Carolla said it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=j9CCpWYegAA


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