By Deb Herbage
Under the Race To The Top (RTTT) grant monies from the U.S. DOE, headed by then Secretary Arne Duncan, all the states were mandated to setup the SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) in order to receive the funding and to prepare for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The data collection and data storage was and remains the collective goal of sharing the data with the U.S. DOE, other state entities (data sharing across states), post-secondary institutions, workforce agencies, education researchers and key stakeholders (investors, foundations, non-profit organizations, ed-tech companies, etc.). This document explains the data sharing agreements: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED540260.pdf
“….there is a substantial and growing amount of statewide, coordinated multi-sector data sharing across the country, much of which likely has been influenced by the U.S. Department of Education Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant program.”
“In all, 47 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have received at least one SLDS grant since 2005.”
“Overview of Data Sharing Changes – Postsecondary agencies/entities participate in data sharing in various ways. Some have individual agreements with separate state agencies, many of which trace their roots to data reporting requirements associated with state laws. Others are part of a statewide coordinated effort with other state agencies via state P-20 data warehouses or federated data models.”
The SLDS was setup in each and every state and each and every state continues to collect data and mine data from our kids through numerous tools such as state assessments, stealth assessments, student survey’s (5Essentials, Gallup Poll, etc), projects, etc. It is a well-known fact that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (among many others) have been huge funders and supporters of the CCSS as well as “data quality” campaigns in conjunction with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The NGA and CCSSO own and hold the copyright for the CCSS and both receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well. In fact, one only has to look at the “About Us” and/or “Company” information for each of the testing companies to see who the major players are, who they receive funding from and their many tie’s to the NGA and the CCSSO. The two entities that hold absolutely zero legal or authoritative “power” or positions, who were extremely instrumental in the Department of Education and Board of Education in each state adopting the Common Core State Standards and the ensuing tests.
Another company that has been extremely influential in the data collection, data sharing and data mining is DQC or Data Quality Campaign – another company funded by Gates. http://dataqualitycampaign.org/who-we-are/ DQC has been instrumental in helping to shape “policy” in their favor. All of the companies listed on their “Partners” page have gained and stand to gain financial windfalls for the sharing of our kids data. Here is an example of a “policy” that was reshaped in favor of data sharing – FERPA or Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act. FERPA was gutted in 2012 and to allow the sharing of our kids data and education records without parental consent. Here is the infographic from DQC’s website http://dataqualitycampaign.org/resource/stoplight-student-data-use/:
Arne Duncan, former secretary of education, resigned his position and fled back to his home state of Illinois. He landed a position at the Brookings Institute. Here is an article from The Brookings Institute in regards to our kids data: “the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing which addressed stakeholders’ concerns about student data. Witnesses included parents who are concerned about understanding what is collected and how that data is used; researchers advocating access to datasets for necessary analysis; and educators describing what has been happening at the state level over the last few years to build State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS). Unfortunately, as of now, SETRA is stalled (or “held hostage”), potentially because of continuing distrust about broader student privacy concerns.” (emphasis mine) http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brown-center-chalkboard/posts/2016/05/23-student-data-privacy-leong?rssid=brown+center+chalkboard&utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=brookingsrss/topfeeds/brown_center_chalkboard
Disclosure Without Parental Consent! Data can be shared with “third-parties” and “researchers”. So the bottom line is – anyone who claims they are conducting “research” (and there are a LOT of them) can and will have access to our kids data (PII). Education is an extremely lucrative business and is a TRILLION dollar industry. The many foundations, non-profits, ed-tech companies, corporations, investors, politicians, policymakers, “stakeholders”, et al are making untold profits under the guise of “improving instruction” or “student achievement”. It appears as though everyone wants to help our kids “achieve” and “improve student learning”…..who could say no to “helping student’s achieve success” or “improve instruction”? The unfortunate part of this is the funds are flowing from our public schools to those ed-tech companies, corporations, politicians, policymakers, non-profits and investors leaving no funds to actually “improve instruction” or “help student’s achieve success”.
The SLDS was setup to collect over 10,000 data points from each student. Here is an article published in The Washington Post in November 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/12/the-astonishing-amount-of-data-being-collected-about-your-children/ Why is this important? Information such as height, weight, student test scores, parent names, marital status and other private information are typically part of the school directory. With the SLDS, the data collection and data-mining goes above the basic directory and collects information such as sibling names and ages, where the parents work, religious beliefs, your child’s thoughts and behaviors, sexual orientation, behavior issues at school , bus stop schedule, illnesses, where they live (in some instances the child was asked to draw a picture of the “type” of structure they lived in, and with the heavy focus on “Early Childhood Education” (Pre-K) they are now not only collecting data on your child such as potty training and milestones like walking and talking, they are taking video’s and pictures of your child which are being uploaded to the SLDS. They are also measuring keystrokes, mouse clicks and have deployed facial recognition software. AGAIN, this is being done with no parental consent or knowledge.
With the hurried and rushed passage of ESSA through Congress in December 2015, every school will be collecting mental health, counseling, health, wellness and behavioral information. HIPPA does not apply to education records so this most private, sensitive information can be shared along with your child’s education records without parental consent. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/03/fact-sheet-congress-acts-fix-no-child-left-behind Bill Gates and the plethora of companies he supports and funds are now switching gears readying for the next education windfall in the form of CBE (Competency Based Education) or PBE (Proficiency Based Education). Here is more on that from Lynne Taylor (Common Core Diva’s blog): “Bill Gates has predicted the education businesses (especially digital) will increase by 50% or $1.1 billion dollars. Driving the sales? Ed Tech. (supposedly higher quality education/more personalized learning/evidence based results based on proven technology)” https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/ed-for-sale/
To gain access to the SLDS and our kids data – a testing company needs to simply state they are “education researchers” and/or are “third-parties” in a state contract and access is granted. When the testing companies and third-parties state they are abiding by FERPA in regards to PII – they are. FERPA allows the sharing of PII (personal identifiable information) to researchers and third-party companies. Amassing the over 10,000 data points, keystrokes, mouse clicks and facial recognition collected by the states for the SLDS with no stringent safeguards in place to not only protect the PII, PII is given to these testing companies in the name of research. Decisions will be made about your children, without your knowledge or permission, behind closed doors, with the stroke of a few keys and access to a shared database containing all of your child’s most private and sensitive information. Decisions will be made based on the data that has been amassed and collected about your child for your child.
Parents – there are some things you can do to help protect your child’s data especially with school starting in August. Check the data sharing and privacy laws in your state and your local school district. Start asking questions – demand to know who is accessing your child’s data and who is sharing it? Ask who their “third-party” vendors are and what role they play in your child’s education that permits them access to this data. Ask the school district how they are safeguarding your child’s data? Where is it being stored? Do they have encryption services? Ask about the “accounts” being setup for your children at their schools. Are they using the Google education apps? Get a list of the companies your child’s school has contracted with and reach out to those companies. Ask them about their policies for MINORS! Ask them how they are safeguarding your minor child’s data and who they are sharing it with! Ask them what they are doing with your child’s data. Opt out of survey’s and data collection tools used by the school. They already have your child’s pertinent information they certainly do not need to know if your child was born via vaginal or a c-section birth and they do not need to know how your child handles anger, frustration or despair. We will not be able to stop the data collection and data mining of our kids but we can slow it down. Parents – if ever there was a time to be vigilant – now is that time.