One of the most troubling aspects of the “education reforms” currently being advanced by the Obama administration and its allies is the unprecedented monitoring and tracking of students — invasions of privacy so pervasive George Orwell might blush. Everything from biometric data to information on children’s beliefs and families is already being vacuumed up. Opponents of the “reform” agenda have highlighted the cradle-to-grave accumulation of private and intimate data as among the most compelling reasons to kill the whole process.
Aside from data produced by the looming Common Core-aligned national testing regime, most of the data-mining schemes are not technically direct components of the plot to nationalize education standards. However, the vast collection of personal information and the accompanying data-mining are intricately linked to the federally backed standards in multiple ways, not to mention myriad other federal schemes. Despite protestations to the contrary, the new standards and the data collection go together hand in hand.
Efforts to portray the data gathering via Common Core-aligned testing as a “state-led” plot notwithstanding, the Obama administration is reportedly considering raising phone taxes by executive decree to help subsidize the necessary technology. Why federal tax increases would be needed to pay for education and data-mining schemes that the federal government is supposedly not involved in has not been explained by officials, but experts and analysts say the reason is obvious.
Already, there are numerous systems being used and deployed across America aimed at compiling unprecedented amounts of data on students. Some are run by private organizations with government assistance; others are operated by authorities directly. All of them are extremely controversial, however, with parents and privacy advocates outraged.
Among the data schemes that have received a great deal of attention in recent months is “inBloom.” As with the new national education standards called Common Core, it is also funded by Bill Gates and the Carnegie Corporation. With at least nine states participating in the $100 million program already, the non-profit entity, which shares data with whomever authorities choose, is quickly gobbling up vast quantities of information.
Respected experts such as attorney Michael Farris, president of ParentalRights.org, pointed out that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child committee has repeatedly pressured governments to create similar national databases on children, albeit using different pretexts. Even liberals have expressed opposition. “Turning massive amounts of personal data about public school students to a private corporation without any public input is profoundly disturbing and irresponsible,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, slamming authorities for failing to disclose the scheme or offer parents an opt-out.
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