"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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Friday, June 7, 2013

Now That Data Mining is on the Public's Radar....

...let's revisit a MEW column on student data mining first published on December 28, 2011 via Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins of American Principles Project.  From The Department of Education Just Won The Data Jackpot:

Emmett McGroarty, executive director of the Preserve Innocence Initiative of the American Principles Project and Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with the APP, wrote a great opinion piece that was featured in today's New York Post regarding the new access the Federal Dept of Education just granted itself to a wide range of data about your children. 

Would it bother you to know that the federal Centers for Disease Control had been shown your daughter’s health records to see how she responded to an STD/teen-pregnancy-prevention program? How about if the federal Department of Education and Department of Labor scrutinized your son’s academic performance to see if he should be “encouraged” to leave high school early to learn a trade? Would you think the government was intruding on your territory as a parent? 
The government will have the ability to look at
any data they want to regarding your child.
Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month, these scenarios could become reality. The department has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career. Although current federal law prohibits this, the department decided to ignore Congress and, in effect, rewrite the law. Student privacy and parental authority will suffer
How did it happen? Buried within the enormous 2009 stimulus bill were provisions encouraging states to develop data systems for collecting copious information on public-school kids. To qualify for stimulus money, states had to agree to build such systems according to federally dictated standards. So all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students. 
The administration wants this data to include much more than name, address and test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income and family voting status. In its view, public schools offer a golden opportunity to mine reams of data from a captive audience. 
The department’s eagerness to get control of all this information is almost palpable. But current federal law prohibits a nationwide student database and strictly limits disclosure of a student’s personal information. So the department has determined that it can overcome the legal obstacles by simply bypassing Congress and essentially rewriting the federal privacy statute. 
Last April, the department proposed regulations that would allow it and other agencies to share a student’s personal information with practically any government agency or even private company, as long as the disclosure could be said to support an evaluation of an “education program,” broadly defined. That’s how the CDC might end up with your daughter’s health records or the Department of Labor with your son’s test scores. 
And you’d have no right to object — in fact, you’d probably never even know about the disclosure. 
Not surprisingly, these proposed regulations provoked a firestorm of criticism. But on Dec. 2, the Department of Education rejected almost all the criticisms and released the regulations. As of Jan. 3, 2012, interstate and intergovernmental access to your child’s personal information will be practically unlimited. The federal government will have a de facto nationwide database of supposedly confidential student information. 
Read more here at the original posting How the Feds are Tracking Your Kids.

One concerning aspect of the re-regulation of FERPA is the data sharing of individual information between federal agencies and private researchers.  Would the Federal Bureau of Investigation want your student data?  If it did, you wouldn't have any idea it was being shared.  It's not illegal anymore to data mine individual student information and share it.  Worried yet?

From The Classic Liberal and The Federal Gestapo:

John W. Whitehead, founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, and author of "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State," examines the FBI's evolution from a mere law enforcement agency to the harbinger of the total surveillance state.


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