First the good news:
Check out the hundreds of comments written in response to the invitation to submit commentary to the federal CEP. You will find an overwhelming number who do not want the federal government to create federal unit tracking for individuals.
Notable pro-privacy comments came from moms and dads and teachers, from the Future of Privacy Forum, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, the American Civil Liberties Union, United States Parents Involved in Education, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, the American Principles Project, and many others.
(There are small and big groups who proclaim that creating a federal unit tracking system is a great idea, for various (less vital) reasons. Privacy, schmivacy, they say: just overturn the student record ban. Bill Gates. The U.N. There’s one group that calls itself “The Young Invincibles” that released a Student Agenda for Postsecondary Data Reform calling for collecting data on all students directly to the federal level.)
FYI, this fight– for and against removing privacy rights– is not new. Three years ago, privacy-enders were, for various reasons, pushing for a bill (Senator Rubio’s and Senator Warner’s) that would have done exactly what the CEP is aiming to do right now. See this 2013 article on what Bill Gates’ think tanks and Rubio/Warner had planned.
Some now wonder if the federal CEP commission will try to hijack well-intentioned bills, such as Rep. Mia Love’s Know Before You Go bill, in order to achieve their privacy-ending scheme.
Here’s the bad news:
Even though there were SO many comments given to the CEP commission stating, like this classic: “Our personal information is not for your use. Keep your hands off of it. This is just plain wrong. Stop it.” –Still, public comments are only public comments. There is nothing in the law that created the CEP commission (less than a year ago, CEP was created by Paul Ryan and company) that states that the CEP has to respect the wishes of the people who send in public comments. That’s what happens when you allow appointees to run the show. The public has no actual recourse, no voting power, when it hates how this appointee-driven show is being run.
So tell your senators and reps.
They do have power.
And privacy is huge. It’s basic to American freedom. Remember that part in the fourth amendment to the Constitution about being safe from intrusion in our papers and personal effects?
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Fifth Amendment further protects property (and privacy):
“No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Do something small. Write one letter. Make one phone call. Tell your representatives that you expect them to represent your will on this. We have to defend our rights; no one else cares if we don’t care.
From Diane Ravitch:
“The U.S. Department of Education, in the Trump regime, is starting to look like a Jeb Bush sweep. Betsy DeVos was on the board of Jeb’s Foundation for Education Excellence, which is…”
Read the rest:
Source: Has Trump Outsourced the Department of Education to Jeb Bush?
I am so annoyed. Those words actually came out of the mouth of the CEP Commission leader: “Ripping the Band-Aid (of data privacy and control) probably would not fly.” But pulling it off using (in his words) “baby steps” is the CEP’s plan, he said in the video of yesterday’s meeting.
Four-hour federal meetings posted on YouTube are not fun to watch. These arrogant –and, let me remind you, unelected CEP members, who we cannot possibly fire (they’re appointed) –spout blah-blah-blah that can consistently be summarized as something like: “… I feel great about the way we persuade the elite and rob Americans of privacy –without widespread knowledge and completely without consent.”
Wait: Before I say one more word: TOMORROW, 12-14-16, is the deadline for public input on privacy v. fed authority over data —here’s the comment link.
Please comment, even if all you write is something very short and very simple: “I believe in informed consent. I oppose non-consensual data mining. Stop this madness.” Do it, please: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003
You and I both suspect that zero consideration will be taken by the CEP of the comments from the public. Do it anyway. Don’t let them think nobody sees or opposes this assault on personal data privacy. And yes, it’s about disaggregated data. See the quotes below, repeatedly speaking about PII. (Personally Identifiable Information as defined in federal FERPA includes so much, even biometric information: behavioral data, DNA samples, nicknames, bus stop times, family history, academic history, fingerprints, blood samples, etc.)
Since CEP has disabled embedding of its public meeting, I’m embedding a video that suffices as a metaphor for the whole thing, before I tell you what went on in the meeting itself.
See how this carnivorous sundew plant injests this insect? It illustrates the stealthy federal hunger for individuals’ data. As individuals (the insects) are drawn to the sweet federal dollars (nectar) coming from the hungry plant (federal government) the tentacles of the plant (federal data mining; SLDS and CEDS) become more and more attached until the insect finally loses all autonomy.
Here’s one where a carnivorous plant lures and later digests a mouse.
If state legislators and administrators would exercise some self-reliance, tighten their financial belts, turn to ourselves (localities) to fund schools and other agencies instead of using federal funds or national, corporate lobby cash, which only give money in exchange for data– then the federal and global data mining traps would fail.
States are stupidly giving away our vital liberties, addicted to the sweet, sticky money that we’ve been lapping at federal troughs.
I am longing to see evidence that our friends in freedom (in D.C. or here in Utah) are making the smallest peep to protect our children from this ongoing, slow-motion, tsunami-like data grab. Maybe it’s happening behind the scenes. I pray at least that that is so.
So, unembedded, if you want to hear the federal “Let’s Take Student Data Without Consent” Commission (aka CEP Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking) is saying, check out this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXasJLAWgtc
Ironically, CEP disabled the video‘s embedding function (it’s a public meeting) but if you look at this link, at hour 1:25 to 1:31 you’ll hear this question from an attendee, followed by a CEP response that summarizes the event:
“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question, and I don’t expect you to be able to answer it, but maybe we can start a conversation that could be useful to us. So, I see census as having made a lot of steps to move in the kinds of directions that are suggested or anticipated by the Commission bill, in that you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have, into the — you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together. What are the ways that you could expand those efforts? Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about? What kinds of things have you thought about? What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”
The response at 1:29 from the CEP:
“…One of the biggest constraints that everybody involved in this sort of endeavor faces is the different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc– had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a state; versus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”
Summary: the CEP just said that “ripping the band-aid” of privacy off the arm of the American people will “probably not fly”; so the CEP has got to “do it in sort of baby steps.”
I don’t think I’m going to watch the rest of this dog and pony show. I’m going to write again to Mia, Jason, Mike and Gary.
What are you going to do? Send CEP a comment? Email your legislators? Say a prayer for the privacy of American people? Re-read 1984 to motivate yourself to care?
You can attend the CEP’s next public meetings in various places across the nation by visiting the CEP federal site here.
A news bomb about the theft of student data exploded in Utah’s Deseret News last July, but nobody noticed, apparently.
The article’s headline — “Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on Utah Autism Rates” — focused primarily on things other than the data theft. It highlighted former University of Utah research professor Judith Zimmerman’s allegations that university researchers were falsifying Utah’s autism rates.
But to me, the unheadlined bomb that the article dropped was the 750,000 students who had their data and their families’ data stolen by unauthorized “researchers”. The families now have no way of knowing this happened.
Zimmerman was fired for raising concerns about protected student data that she said the researchers had “compromised and accessed without proper authority.” She told the Deseret News that unauthorized individuals took 750,000 sensitive records with neither parental nor schools’ consent. This private “medical and educational information” included “names, birthdays, information about medical characteristics… special education classification and parents’ names and addresses,” reported the Deseret News.
How would these families now be notified? I wonder: with the whistleblower fired and with a years-long lawsuit and likely gag orders pending, the only people who now could potentially contact those families would be still employed at the university –who, being accused of the wrongdoing, certainly won’t go out of their way to inform the affected families right now.
I’m not going to discuss the ways in which the stolen records, and the children they represented, are vulnerable to potential crimes of credit card fraud, health insurance identity theft, crimes of predatory stalkers or the mandates of well-or-ill-intentioned governmental activists.
I’m here to ask –and answer– a very simple question that I hope readers are asking: how could this have happened? How were three quarters of a million records of children just lying around under the noses of any unscrupulous university researchers?
It’s simple. Utah has a STATE LONGITUDINAL DATABASE SYSTEM (SLDS) and it’s managed by the UECP at the University of Utah.
You, your children, and your grandchildren are in the SLDS whether you like it or not –unless you pay 100% of your own money in tuition for a 100% private school, and always have. There is no other way to opt out. I’ve tried.
Don’t get me started about how blindly stupid Utah is (all states now are) for having –and continuing to support– the SLDS.
We’re subject to this SLDS data surveillance system simply because in some USOE cubicle, some clueless grant writer responded to Obama’s mess of pottage and decided that the state of Utah might exchange students’ privacy for a $9.6 million dollar federal grant.
Utah traded all students’ data records, longitudinally (permanently) into this data-slurping machine, euphemistically titled the State Longitudinal Database System, which the feds designed and oversaw— all for the love of money and nonconsensual research.
Without parental consent, Utah children’s data now is daily being collected –using schools to vaccum it up. This is not a legitimate situation, but you can’t blame schools. They are being used. They have to give daily data to the state/fed system, or they lose funds/grind to a halt. In a recent Utah rulemaking statement, we read: “all public education LEAs shall begin submitting daily updates to the USOE Clearinghouse using all School Interoperability Framework (SIF) objects defined in the UTREx Clearinghouse specification. Noncompliance with this requirement may result in interruption of MSP funds.”
So we can’t believe the ear candy we’re told, about how this data mining is about keeping data on kids so teachers can do their best teaching. It’s not staying in the local school for teachers and administrators to legitimately peruse, but it goes into the federally designed, federally interoperable SLDS database held at UECP/U of U which many state agencies can peruse and which the feds can already partially peruse.
(Side note: the feds are feverishly working to get much greater unit-record access as we speak. If you’re interested, livestream the CEP’s federal public hearing on that subject today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvvatB_NBWI )
Every state has an SLDS system. The feds paid the states to build them. The feds told the states how the SLDS’s had to be built. Utah got nearly $10 million to make Utah’s federal SLDS in 2009. And the grant’s been renewed to keep trading cash for students, in recent years.
Utah children and their families thus have their data sucked away to where unelected, unaccountable “researchers” are entrusted with data via SLDS. The University’s “Utah Education Policy Center” (UEPC) is a founding partner in the Utah Data Alliance, which controls Utah’s SLDS system. According to UEPC’s website:
“Five other partners include the Utah State Office of Education (public education), Utah System of Higher Education, Utah College of Applied Technology, Utah Education Network, and the Department of Workforce Services. UEPC serves as the research coordinator for the Utah Data Alliance. UEPC coordinates access for individuals and organizations interested in collaborating with the Utah Data Alliance, or researchers interested in accessing data for research purposes.”
That’s a long answer to a short question. That’s how the data got stolen.
Here’s the follow up question: what’s keeping the other millions of records of students from going the same way that those 750,000 records went?
Ask your legislator that question. Ask him/her to show you any proper privacy protections that are actually in place. (FERPA was shredded; don’t let them pretend there’s protection anymore under FERPA.)
We do not even have the freedom to opt out of SLDS tracking. But all of this can change– if more good people speak up– act.
How did the fox persuade the gingerbread boy to get on his back? The fox said that he would never eat him, but would surely protect the gingerbread boy from everyone who was trying to eat him on the dangerous side of the river.
On shore stood the hungry horse, the farmer, the dog, the others– and the fox said that he could help the gingerbread boy to get away. The fox protected the gingerbread boy like the federal government is protecting your child’s personal data.
Every time I read an official promise like this recent CEP statement (and there are so many; even the federal alterations to FERPA sounded like the CEP statement) –I think of the gingerbread boy. The CEP (federal “Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking”) promises that the government only wants more individual “data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.” I think of the fox “protecting” the gingerbread boy.
That fox wanted to eat the boy just as much as the dog and the farmer and everyone else did. Even the gingerbread boy probably suspected it, but he really, really wanted to cross that river.
When the government says that it can and will protect privacy while accessing greater amounts of data, I think:
River = money
Gingerbread boy = a child’s sensitive data
Horse = educational sales corporations
Farmer = educational researchers
Fox = federal government
Dog= state government
The oven where the boy was born = SLDS database
Betsy DeVos, America’s newly appointed Secretary of Education, is quite adorable. She interviews like America’s Sweetheart, her name sounds like Betsy Ross, and she says she’s opposed to the Common Core.
But the parents who began Stop Common Core in Michigan say DeVos used her Michigan big-funding machine to block, rather than to assist, the Stop Common Core parents’ nearly successful legislation that would have repealed the Common Core.
DeVos’ Greater Lakes Education Project (GLEP) sounds like the Michigan version of Utah’s Education First / Prosperity 2020. Organizations like Michigan’s GLEP or Utah’s Education First are wealthy Common Core-promoters that give ear candy to, and then fund, any candidate who is willing to take their ear candy and campaign cash. Then they’re obliged to vote as the Common Core machine calls the shots.
DeVos, like Bill Gates, is on board with Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence (another huge Common Core promo tank.) DeVos, like Gates, also wrote checks to the Clinton Foundation.
So where are Betsy DeVos’s loyalties?
As Jane Robbins recently noted, “It simply doesn’t make sense that DeVos would contribute boatloads of money to – and even lead — organizations that actively push a policy with which she disagrees. Would a pro-life philanthropist write checks to Planned Parenthood because the abortion mill provides the occasional Pap test?”
A true liberty lover would only do this if she, like so many Americans, doesn’t fully understand what the Common Core machine is doing. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. I know a lot of good people who have only the vaguest idea what the Common Core machine is doing or will do.
So let’s clarify.
The Common Core machine loves money, not children. It clearly steals from children. It really is that simple.
I’d like to see DeVos speak out about the following:
The initiative has stolen academic freedom and privacy. It is stealing social-emotional data without parental consent. It is stealing what we used to call classical education. It is stealing the local ability to make decisions about what will be on the test –and, by extension, what will be in the book and on the essay. It is stealing student dollars that could go elsewhere (to teachers, buses, field trips, desks, basketballs, glue sticks, pencils) and is diverting it to tech coffers: Pearson, Microsoft, etc. No profit left behind.
Money, money, money –and comforting ear candy– make the machine’s operators feel great about being it’s operators.
Ever since Bill Gates openly courted American legislators in 2009 and identified as a “large, uniform base of customers” the sitting ducks (schools) waiting to be bankrolled, schools and legislative ed committees have become the hot market for businesses and philanthropic activists. This power grab, away from parents and local school boards, toward the corporate-governmental partnerships, has been monumental.
Core pushers’ “ear candy” sells well. They make it sound as if the machine’s primarily about ed tech progress –bringing new, good things to kids– but it’s primarily about adults who love money.
How many ed tech salesmen, governors, senators or representatives have really stopped to consider consequences –intentional or unintentional– of the standardizing of everything in education and in education governance?
They’ve pushed data mining without informed parental consent, pushed common, national ed data systems, pushed unvalidated tests and curriculum –on an entire nation of student guinea pigs.
It has been, and continues to be, a mad dash toward Gates’ vision of schools as the shiny, shiny, “uniform customer base”:
If you’ve seen the latest Disney movie: remember how the creepy bling-crab looks at Moana? That’s how I picture Mr. Bill “Uniform Customer Base” Gates, the ed tech corporations, the government data miners, and the business-model charter pushers, looking at schools.
School dollars are so shiny! It’s the money, not what’s best for children, that they see.
But as I watched DeVos’ interview in which she explained her vision of the school choice movement, I thought: she’s sincere in her belief. She really buys the school choice line.
But has she (or most Americans) really thought it all the way through?
It’s as if we were buying a house. We love the curb appeal and the front door of the School Choice idea. We take a step inside and shout, “Sold!” But… what about the rotted attic that no one checked? What about the weird, moldy basement? Is there a kitchen? Are there enough bedrooms?
Why aren’t more people asking SERIOUS questions about School Choice and about the Common Core machine? Because the words on the surface just sound good? Because the entryway of the house looks fantastic? (Who would be opposed to allowing disadvantaged kids in to better schools? Who wouldn’t like choice? That’s sweet ear candy, right?)
The notion of school choice is a false choice, because where government dollars are, government mandates are.
It’s like the old Ford ad:
Think about it.
Vouchers for school choice are not reimbursed cash; they’re government subsidies, and anything that the government subsidizes, it regulates.
The beauty of private schools has always been freedom. Parents can pay the nuns to teach their Catholic children right out of the Bible. What happens when a disadvantaged child from a Catholic family takes a government voucher to pay for private religious school tuition?
That particular money can destroy that particular school.
By putting vouchers into private schools, we turn those private schools into government-regulated schools (aka public schools) and those private schools will not longer be free to teach –things like religion or morality. Nor will those private schools be free to continue to protect data privacy of teachers or students; human data is always one of the items that federal monies trade schools for, in exchange for cash. Read that paragraph again.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune” means that if the feds pay then the private schools, as pipers, have to play what they’ve been paid to play. And that’s the music of the Common March.
The beauty of (some) charter schools has been the illusion that parents had more say in what went on (almost like a private school). But under Common Core, that’s changing. Many charter schools now have businesses running them, not elected board members running them. Where’s the local control in that? This gets rid of voters’ voices, parents’ voices. With the Great Commonizing, even legitimate, good differences between public schools and charter schools seem very temporary.
Under the Common Core machine– with its federally approved schoolrooms, nationalized “truths” that trump local academic freedom, federally urged data mining, disregard for parental consent to data mine, disregard for teaching autonomy –what’s any real, lasting difference between what a child in a charter will experience and what a child in a public school or (eventually) even a private school would ultimately experience? The Common march means there will be no real differences permitted at length.
I am guessing that DeVos doesn’t know that the Common Core machine is building a socialistic, factory model of education according to the vision of the Tucker-Clinton conspiracy. I’m guessing, too, that she hasn’t heard (or dismisses) what whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt has been saying for years:
“The goal of school choice… is the takeover of the public and private school sectors through partnerships with the corporate sector in order to implement socialist work force training… Carnegie Corporation, in its little blue book entitled “Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies” 1934, called for using the schools to change our nation’s free market economy to a planned economy.” Hmm– a planned, centralized economy– that means, no local control. I don’t believe that’s what DeVos really hopes to build. I don’t think she, or Heritage Foundation, or FreedomWorks, have really thought this all the way through while wearing their Constitution-framed glasses.
In her Florida interview, DeVos said (minute 7:40-8:09) that she wanted people to rethink the public school “system that was brought to us 200 years ago by the Prussians, very much an industrial, factory model of education… Technology has brought so many new opportunities… we need to allow people who are innovative and creative to come and help us think differently about how we can do education”.
I don’t think she understands that the factory model’s exactly where the school choice movement eventually leads: First, it leads there because vouchers can strip private schools of religious, moral and academic freedom, and second, because if we move away from the elected-board-run public schools to business-owned, no-elected-board charter models, we have erased our own voices and votes even in public education.
While you’re folding laundry or jogging later today, listen to Constitution-defending lawyer KrisAnne Hall as she explains the trouble with DeVoss, vouchers and school choice in this podcast.
Hall notes that Americans are confused about their desire for limited government and local control versus their desire for big socialist programs: “Amongst our conservative circles… we want limited government –unless we want government to define marriage. We want limited government –unless we want government to control our consumption of plants. We want limited government –unless it has to do with education.”
She also notes that while Trump wants to give $20 billion in federal grants to poor children— not to all children. The middle and upper classes are not invited to the school choice party.
Have the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks considered that?
As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. If we can put a man on the moon… we can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America…”
If you remember nothing else from this blog post, remember this:
- School choice and vouchers are not for all American children; they are for those whom the federal government will designate as recipients. It’s favoritism and it’s socialism and it’s legal plunder: A pays for B to go to the school of B’s choice. If A doesn’t pay, A goes to jail.
- Whether B goes to this school or that one is only a partial liberty because all the schools receiving money from government school vouchers must abide by federal regulations: data mining kids, removing religious and academic liberty from private schools, and controlling teachers.
A Related P.S.
On January 5, 2017, there will be a new public hearing in Chicago, where unit record identifiers and Public Law 114-140 will be discussed. The federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP)’s boiled-down purpose seems to be to cater to the federal/corporate desire for more student “evidence,” in the form of school-gleaned personal data, minus student/parental rights of privacy/ informed consent; but, to do it with the “public input” box checked off. So let’s comment. If you can go to Chicago, go. If not, submit written comment to CEP.
To learn about the last such hearing, click here and here.
Submit your request to participate to Input@cep.gov no later than Sunday, December 18, 2016
Include in your request the following information:
- Name and Professional Affiliation (if applicable)
- 2-3 Sentence Abstract
- Written Statement (preferably in .pdf format)
Commission staff will inform you of your assigned speaking time and logistical details no later than December 23, 2016.
Visit CEP.gov closer to the event date for webcast and caption details.
Additional Upcoming Meetings & Hearings:
- December 12, 2016, Washington, DC (National Press Club) – Federal Models for Evidence – Building
- January 13, 2017, Washington, DC (National Academy of Sciences) – State and International Models for Evidence- Building
- February 9, 2017, San Francisco, CA – Public Hearing
I would absolutely love to see Betsey DeVos at that CEP Chicago hearing next month. I would love to see her fight for students’ data privacy rights against the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP). I want to see her true colors.
I so hope that I’ve read her completely wrong; I so hope she’s truly opposed to what the Common Core Initiative has wrought.
Alyson Williams, who worked in data management for the publishing industry, a mother who has written and spoken much about education and data reforms over the past several years, has just given a speech at the Agency Based Education Conference.
It’s worth your time.
Alyson raises and expands upon many of the issues that are also being raised by other data privacy experts, including American Principles Project, Elana Zeide, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Education Liberty Watch, Return to Parental Rights, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
She asks us to consider how current trends toward consent-less gathering and use of student data are to be affected by frameworks already in place (such as SLDS databases) and by new movements, such as the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP) and the Competency-based Education reforms now arising in many legislatures (including Utah’s) today. She points out that a key cheerleader for Competency-based Education is Marc Tucker, the avowed enemy to local control of education who is, nonetheless, a mistakenly respected advisor to the Utah legislature. How might Marc Tucker’s CBE Baby affect my children and yours?
Please watch and share with your legislators.