Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?
The State School Board doesn’t think so.
Boiling down the conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?
1) – Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)
2) – The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.
Take some time. Think about it. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.
Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.” And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit. This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.
“Data Quality Campaign” has many partners including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers! “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,” “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”
From the DQC’s site: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
Do you share that vision?
On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core) they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”
And Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges. Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data. http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf
Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?
But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”
So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:
DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test. (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)
American Institutes for Research will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.
(Why the nonacademic information too? Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)
Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills. But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.
Every state has a federally-invented SLDS: State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding). And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs. So did all the other states. It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.
We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him. Why keep him around at all?
The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.” This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”
The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)
Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data. In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.
But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.
Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)
The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.
I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”
Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.
Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!
It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information
Is this what we want for Utah?
Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.
To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.
This is not hyperbole. Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data. We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.
Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing. They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.