One of the most chilling aspects of Common Core is it’s coupling with child-monitoring, data collection systems promoted by the Federal government, in partner with our State’s government.

Given recent growing concerns about the NSA’s spying programs, and their abuse by federal government employees, it’s a wonder more parents aren’t concerned about the government’s plans to track our kids in schools.  But maybe more parents aren’t upset, because more parents don’t realize the magnitude of the collection of information that is being planned for their children.  The federal government wants to know everything about your kids.  They will collect and then distribute that information to teachers, principals, state government agencies, private corporations and the federal government.  Pulse rate, health records, discipline issues, religion, parental voting status, how your kids react to a specific lesson…it will all be tracked and monitored, stored and distributed.

One group fighting this data collection scheme is the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).  This group works to ensure that homeschooling remains a fundamental right within the United States.  Because the government’s data collection system will include homeschooled children, HSLDA has been pushing back against such “Big Brother” collection plans.  From their website, here is a concise and informative article about data collection and how it will affect all our children, no matter how they are schooled:

10. Does the Common Core include a national database?

The Common Core website asserts that “There are no data collection requirements of states adopting the Common Core State Standards,” but the actions of the Department of Education prove otherwise.1 Secretary of Education Arne Duncan summarized the Obama administration’s vision, explaining,

We want to see more states build comprehensive systems that track students from pre-K through college and then link school data to workforce data. We want to know whether Johnny participated in an early learning program and completed college on time and whether those things have any bearing on his earnings as an adult.2All 50 states have had statewide longitudinal databases in place to track their students’ scores on assessments for the past decade. Yet the authors of the Common Core are clear: the success of the standards hinges on the increased collection of student data.3 Every state that agreed to the Common Core in order to receive Race to the Top (RTTT) funding committed “to design, develop, and implement statewide P–20 [preschool through workforce] longitudinal data systems…”4 Data collection must follow the 12 criteria set down in the America COMPETES Act and record, among other things, student demographics, reasons that untested students were not tested, and student success in postsecondary education.5 The 23 states that did not receive RTTT grants but are part of one of the two assessment consortia are also committed to cataloging students from preschool through the workforce.6 In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor announced $12 million in grants for states to build longitudinal databases linking workforce and education data.7

Earlier this year, the Department of Education unilaterally altered the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA formerly guaranteed that parents could access the data collected by schools concerning their children but barred schools from sharing this information with third parties.8 But the Department of Education has reshaped FERPA so that any government or private entity that the department says is evaluating an education program has access to students’ personally identifiable information.9 Notifying the students’ parents is no longer required. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy center focusing on civil liberty infringements, warned that this revision will expose “troves of sensitive, non-academic data.”10 Combined with the changes to FERPA, the implementation of the Common Core is unleashing what is arguably the most comprehensive tracking of citizens that America has ever seen.

Footnote 12

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The dangers of the data systems are not confined to public school students. FERPA does not currently protect homeschooling families in states where families must submit documentation of intent to homeschool.11 Furthermore, at the National Conference on Student Assessment in 2011, officials from Oklahoma explained to CCSSO how the challenge of meeting the data requirements of federal and state education policies are motivating them to “Include student groups not now included (e.g., home-schooled) in the data system.”12

Data collection will not be limited to homework grades, extracurricular activities, and future career paths. In February 2013, the Department of Education sponsored a study called Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance which analyzed how to record any factors that might affect educational success including socioeconomic background, classroom climate, personal goals, and emotions during homework assignments. The study laments that functional MRI machines, which can measure specific brain activity, are not practical for use in a school setting. But the authors note that the Gates Foundation is collaborating with researchers to explore other methods of “how specific brain activity is correlated with other cognitive and affective indicators that are practical to measure in school settings.”13 The study recommends that facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure computer mice, eye tracking devices, and computer programs to track a student’s mood be used in schools.14 Keeping tabs on the physiological activity of schoolchildren is the trajectory of the data systems developing alongside the Common Core.

Massive new databases are already being built. In 2012, the Gates Foundation used $17 million to launch inBloom, a company that has built a $100 million database to track students from kindergarten through college.15 The databases identify students by name, address, and sometimes Social Security number. Per the revised version of FERPA, information collected on students can be shared with third parties such as education product companies.16

Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts committed to upload data from some school districts; Louisiana and New York began uploading almost all of their student records.17 The executive director for the New York Civil Liberties Union chastised the New York school districts saying, “Turning massive amounts of personal data about public school students to a private corporation without any public input is profoundly disturbing and irresponsible.”18 The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts similarly lambasted the Massachusetts Board of Education for assisting the Gates Foundation in “building a national ‘data store.’”19 After these outcries, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, and Massachusetts announced that they would not upload data to inBloom.20

The Common Core and the enlarged data systems containing detailed student information are not severable. It is almost impossible for states to implement the Common Core without agreeing to help build one of the biggest and most detailed data systems in American history.

Big Brother is not just watching—he is attempting to track every child in America.

Article updated July 23, 2013

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