"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, August 16, 2013

What Happens if the System Knows Everything About Your Child

At a hearing this spring on Common Core, Representative Margo McNeil (D-MO69) asked what opponents of data gathering were so worried about with the schools collecting and sharing data. Her question demonstrates the left's lack of imagination, and frankly lack of historical knowledge, about what could go wrong with data collected and held by the government.

The Freedom Outpost recently exposed a little known provision (and there are so many more yet to be discovered) of the Affordable Care Act that would allow government agencies to carry out home inspections.
Constitutional attorney and author Kent Masterson Brown states:

“This is not a “voluntary” program. The eligible entity receiving the grant for performing the home visits is to identify the individuals to be visited and intervene so as to meet the improvement benchmarks. A homeschooling family, for instance, may be subject to “intervention” in “school readiness” and “social-emotional developmental indicators.” A farm family may be subject to “intervention” in order to “prevent child injuries.” The sky is the limit.
Looking into the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV - pronounced  me-eccccccchv) Competitive Grant program we find all the reasons a home visit may be deemed necessary by the state.

"Priority for Serving High-Risk Populations and Programmatic Areas of Emphasis As directed in the legislation , successful applicants will give priority to providing services to the following populations: 

a) Eligible families who reside in communities in need of such services, as identified in the statewide needs assessment required under subsection (b)(1)(A). (Living in the wrong zip code. I thought we didn't want to condemn people because of their zip code.)

b) Low-income eligible families. (Anyone receiving EBT, WIC, Medicaid, etc.  If you accept government hand-outs they have a right to come into your home.)

c) Eligible families who are pregnant women who have not attained age 21. (Gotta love that families here is described as A pregnant woman, and one who has reached the age of majority. Once you can drink, they can't touch you.)

d) Eligible families that have a history of child abuse or neglect or have had interactions with child welfare services. (Child protective services decides you need a visit. They have such a stellar track record of honest reporting. We should all sleep so much better now.)

e) Eligible families that have a history of substance abuse or need substance abuse treatment. 

f) Eligible families that have users of tobacco products in the home. (They will know who you are because of your medical record.)

g) Eligible families that are or have children with low student achievement. (Here Representative McNeil is what we are concerned about. The state now has your students academic record. They allow other departments to have access to that data and that may now trigger a home inspection by: CPS, HHS, or other social service agencies.

 h) Eligible families with children with developmental delays or disabilities. (Simply because you give birth to a child with special needs, the state now has a right to come into your home.)

i) Eligible families who, or that include individuals who, are serving or formerly served in the Armed Forces, including such families that have members of the Armed Forces who have had multiple deployments outside of the United States." 

These are the programs which will receive emphasis for funding by the grant:
  • Improvements in maternal, child, and family health 
  • Effective implementation and expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs or systems with fidelity to the evidence-based model selected 
  • Development of statewide or multi-State home visiting programs 
  • Development of comprehensive early childhood systems that span the prenatal-through-age-eight continuum 
  • Outreach to high-risk and hard-to-engage populations
  • Development of a family-centered approach to home visiting 
  • Outreach to families in rural or frontier areas (You moved out of the city to get away from all the governmental intrusion and now they are targeting you for more intrusion.)
  • The development of fiscal leveraging strategies to enhance program sustainability (Here they acknowledge that once again the Federal government is only providing seed money and states accepting it will be on the hook for finding their own funds to continue to operate these programs.)
Now take a look at the videos Pearson (the largest education industry supplier) released displaying their vision of the future of education. Danette Clark wrote a great piece on this:
"Although the technology shown by Pearson is impressive, these videos confirm the fears of many teachers about what will be expected of them and many parents regarding intrusive data mining of their children’s personal information.
In these videos, educators’ teaching styles are monitored by real-time cameras in every classroom and evaluated on the use of specific points of instruction. It goes without saying that dictating specific teaching strategies makes for big problems, especially if those strategies are used for indoctrination purposes. Just look to Texas for testimony of teachers that say they were reprimanded and threatened with dismissal if they failed to teach in the exact manner directed by CSCOPE.

This vision of the future also entails teachers and school administrators having instant access to an individualized schedule on each student – not just an in-school/class schedule, but a schedule of the student’s activities and whereabouts outside of school.
In the video, Victoria’s Story: School of Thought–A Vision for the Future of Learning, Pearson demonstrates ease of access to students’ personal lives by showing a teacher instantaneously pulling Victoria’s schedule and sharing with another teacher that Victoria has soccer practice after school that time of year."  (read the full post here)

My own school collected drivers license numbers in order for students to be issued a parking pass. I have heard from other parents around the state that their schools requested insurance information as well.  I was expected to be mollified by the fact that my child's school didn't enter these numbers electronically. The school official, however, was not able to give me a valid reason for collecting this data (yes, I was given a few reasons, none of which stood up to logical scrutiny.) There were several alternative ways in the scenarios the official described in which such data might be needed that the data could be obtained which would not require the school to collect it at all.

Schools in general have no sensitivity to the data they are requesting and refuse to consider the potential abuse of such data. Parents need to push back to stem the growing sense of entitlement to student data. If a school cannot demonstrate a serious need for data, like driver's licenses, then they should not collect it. When it comes to data, abstinence is the best policy. Even if they can supply a need, they still do not have a right to all your child's personal information much less information about your family and such collection should receive serious public scrutiny and input.

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