by John Eppolito & Deb Herbage

I have had the great fortune to meet and work side by side with many excellent and dedicated education activists and advocates over the past 5 years.  One of them, John Eppolito, from Nevada had this to say after the shocking Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story:

“More parents are beginning to understand the dangers of schools, states, and third parties; collecting, storing, sharing, and analyzing student data.  What just happened between Facebook (FB) and Cambridge Analytica is nothing compared to what’s happening to our children, by design, in Nevada, public schools and across the country.

Starting in kindergarten anything your child does in school may be documented in INFINITE CAMPUS (IC) without your consent.  To view the most sensitive, subjective, medical (including psychiatric), and discipline data in student’s IC accounts parents have to make appointments with two school officials.  Nightly, IC uploads the most sensitive data on all Nevada public school children to the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) via their System of Accountability Information in Nevada (SAIN).  The most sensitive, subjective, medical, and discipline data stored on our children by IC and SAIN is never deleted!  At this point we don’t have answers from the NDE, IC, or local Nevada school districts to: a) Why isn’t the data ever deleted? b) How will the data be used in the future?

If your child starts using free third party “EDUCATION” SOFTWARE typically 2nd – 4th grade the software vendors will likely be creating profiles on your child without your consent.  These profiles will likely be much more detailed than the ones Cambridge Analytica have created on Facebook users.  Many of these third-party vendors will also share your child’s data with unknown 4th parties.

If your child is issued a 1:1 DEVICE it is likely that everything your child does on that device will be tracked by Google or Microsoft, and possibly others.

If your child takes the 10 hour, computer adaptive, secret, AIR (American Institutes for Research) SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) TEST in 3rd – 8th grade consider: a) Computer adaptive means the test “adapts” as students take it, in other words student A and student B take different tests; making the SBAC an invalid assessment. b) At least during the testing window SBAC will be “monitoring” student’s social media accounts, in the name of test security. c) SBAC must share raw test data on the 10 hour test with numerous third parties including the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office and in Nevada the SAIN. d) Parents get the least amount of test data after approximately 10 hours of testing. e) Since the only ones allowed to view the test are children, we cannot be sure about this but many experts believe – the SBAC test is more of a student data mining tool for third parties than a true criterion referenced test.  Some experts believe the SBAC will create psychological profiles on students who take the test.”

Parents, the amount of information and data that has been mined and collected and continues to be mined and collected on our kids is alarming and disturbing.  What John states above in his article can be said here in Florida as well as other states.  We have raised the alarm MANY times over the past 5 years about the student data-mining taking place in classrooms across the country.  See here:  https://wp.me/p7xNkD-bj This data is being stolen from our kids without our consent or knowledge. When the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) came on the scene in 2009/2010 and the state assessments that accompanied them were given for the very first time in the 2014/2015 school year – that opened the door for a whole host of data-mining and data collection the likes of which parents have never seen.  Every key stroke and click of the mouse your child makes is tracked with algorithms.  Bio feedback data is collected via facial recognition software.  EVERYTHING is being tracked with algorithms and stored.  Ed-tech companies, corporations, think tanks, universities, colleges, non-profits, and foundations couldn’t get out of each other’s way to get their products into our schools and into the hands of our kids.  Data privacy laws?  FERPA was gutted in 2009 and then again in 2012 to allow for the sharing of our kids data.  COPPA allows schools to open and setup accounts for our children without our parental consent or knowledge.  Data is liquid gold.  Data is an extremely valuable commodity…after all…Common Core promised to collect data from “Cradle to Grave” and they are certainly accomplishing that with the SLDS’s (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) that were setup in every state.  The SLDS’s are now connected  in each state to the USDOE, the DoD, the Chamber of Commerce (to name a few – there are many more who have access) as well as the SLDS’ in other states.  Parents have not signed away their children’s privacy rights…these companies stepped in and just took the data.  And continue to do so.  Algorithms are created by people.  People that may have certain biases.  These ed-tech companies, think tanks, non-profits, foundations, et al are not only collecting our children’s private student data but also grades, test scores, disciplinary information, physical addresses, phone numbers, and also computer IP addresses and devices they log in from whether they are logging in at school or at home.  They are also collecting student mental health data as well as predictive social emotional learning data.  As Knewton declared in this video “Education Datapalooza”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr7Z7ysDluQ

they are collecting 5 to 10 million data points per day per student and that education is one of the most “data-minable” industries.  Think about this for a minute.  5 to 10 MILLION data points per student per day.

Aside from all this data collection – they have also unleashed hundreds of new programs, software, applications and websites for our kids to test and use for them.  They are using our kids as their guinea pigs and our teachers as their product development specialists.  These programs, software, applications and websites have never been used before and are experimental.  Just like the state test that was given in each state in the 2014/2015 school year when Common Core was forced into our schools.  That test was also experimental as it had never been given before and was never validated or deemed reliable.  Parents, it is time to shut down the gravy train of data collection, data-mining and data harvesting that has been going on for years without your consent or knowledge.  It’s time to stop these companies from taking what does NOT belong to them.  It’s time to stop the data-profiling of our kids using their own data against them.  Can you begin to imagine what a data profile would look like for a child entering VPK 5 years ago to today?  Remember – “cradle to grave”.  It’s time to stop these companies, ed-tech companies, foundations, universities, colleges, corporations, think tanks, non-profits, et al from profiting millions, if not billions, of dollars from our children’s data.  It’s time to put a stop to the “Facebook/Cambridge Analytica” scenario of using our children’s data for their manipulation and it is most certainly time to put a stop to the data collection and data-mining.  There is so much information out there about all the data-mining and data collection for you to research and educate yourself. You can also start by sending an email to your principal/IT director/school district asking these 5 simple questions:

  1. What specific information is being obtained by the vendor?
  2. What specific information is being shared by the vendor to other vendors and
    third parties?
  3. Who exactly has access to this data?
  4. How are parents made aware of any data breaches/hacks?
  5. Where is the data being stored? On school servers or vendor servers?

The answers may shock you like they did me.  It is extremely unnerving and alarming not knowing who has access to my child’s data and not all third party companies are held to FERPA.  Start the conversation today!  Stay tuned for more to come.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s