The federal government uses lots of different agencies– but increasingly, schools– to track us. It’s citizen surveillance. But they call it research.
I wrote to the Utah State Office of Education a few months ago to ask a simple yes or no question: can my child attend public school without being specifically and individually tracked by name, school record, social security number etc.?
No. The answer was, no. Your child will always be tracked using personally identifiable information. But this will never be shared outside the State Office of Education, they assured me.
After studying the NCES website, the federal FERPA website, the lawsuit between E.P.I.C. and the Dept. of Education, the machinations of CCSSO’s John Brandt with the Utah Data Alliance, Open Education specialist Professor David Wiley’s statements about the necessity of gathering data without parental consent, and Dept. of Ed Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss’s statements on federal data-mashing and “helping” states to partner with data, I do not believe the USOE’s assurances. I wish I could.
Under agencies like “National Center for Education Statistics” and “Institute for Education Sciences” the federal government is asking schools to collect and share hundreds of data points about your school, your teachers, and yes, your child.
There’s a federal “Common Core of Data.” There’s a National Data Collection Model that asks for so much private information about each student, way, way beyond math and reading scores– it asks for family information, languages spoken, health information, extracurricular programs, social security numbers, bus stop descriptions– you name it. Right here: http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary There is even a private school survey– private, not government. On the federal data collection website.
If you start to talk about it with people, they’ll pat you on the head and say, “Oh, but FERPA law is here to protect you; it’s a groundless conspiracy theory.”
When they say that, please pat them right back on their own little heads and say, “Federal FERPA regulations were altered by the Department of Education quite recently. Now definitions have been rewritten and parental consent has been shoved aside: it’s an agenda. Not a theory, an actual, verifiable, factual agenda being pushed under the radar upon Americans who still think they are protected and free.” http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
If they haven’t walked away from you, talk on. Say, “Definitions that have been reshaped –loosened– by the Dept of Ed. without Congressional approval include such details as the term AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE– now it could be literally anyone, anyone who is authorized to view your child’s personal information under federal FERPA regulation. Even a school volunteer can have access to a child’s personally identifiable data, including biometric, physical data like fingerprints or DNA. If parents have allowed the school to collect it. Unless our state FERPA can stand up to the federal FERPA.”
Your listeners will still find it hard to believe that this could be legal. Then take them to this federal 34 CFR Part 99 FERPA pdf page and type in the search terms “volunteer” or “biometric”:
The point: unless many of us look at this and talk about it, and then stand up and say, “No way” to the absolute flood of data-sucking agencies all around us, that are aiming to know everything about everyone, via data mashing and data sharing, we will lose our freedoms, we will lose our way of life as we have known it in the United States and elsewhere.
Bureaucracies of mass data-collection and sharing grow slowly but relentlessly. Will they build a web we can’t break by the time we think it’s time to fight back? Will we be intimidated by the clever sounding “government-speak” and the researchers’ arrogance?
Or will we take back our identities, our privacy, our freedom?
If you have time, just look at the words they use:
“The Common Core of Data (CCD) is a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.” http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/
“Policy Makers – If you are an LEA or SEA policy maker, focus on Chapters 1, 2, and 4 of the User Guide.
“Data Modelers – If you are coming from a background in other data model domains such as banking, healthcare, etc. and want to familiarize yourself with the education data model domain, read Chapter 3: How to use the Data Model. Review Appendix C: Common Attributes. Then go directly to the Education Data Model…”
Look behind you.
If you were taking a nice walk in the park and someone said, “Look behind you. There’a a fast moving river of hot lava coming your way,” you could call that person a liar or a mad conspiracy theorist and keep enjoying your walk.
–Or you could just take that one look behind you. What would it hurt to just turn your head and take a look? Do you really not want to know?
This is what I’m asking you to do.
Just look for yourself.