Apr 25, 2013

More Interaction on Florida Common Core Data Mining Bill

Share this...
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter

April 25, 2013

Dear Senator,

The following information was sent to Senator Galvano’s office regarding SB  878, the Education Accountability bill that still raises very serious concerns about the undermining of data privacy despite the information you may have received about it during its Senate passage.  Therefore Education Liberty Watch and Floridians against Common Core Education are asking you to take the time to review this information before you vote on the final bill.  More background information is available here and here.

Thank you for your consideration.  Best wishes as you finish the session, hopefully protecting the data privacy and educational quality of Florida’s children by making these changes and also delaying the implementation of Common Core and its related assessments.


Karen R. Effrem, MD

President – Education Liberty Watch


952-361-4931 – office


1)      We believe that it is very important that this language on lines 114-116 be deleted:

(f) To promote adoption of a common set of data elements

  115  identified by the National Center for Education Statistics to

  116  support the effective exchange of data within and across states.

This language will tie Florida’s system to the National Education Data Model (the page has been removed from the NCES website, but the current NCES Student Data Handbook is available here) that will still promote the collection of the 300-400 individual data points on children and families, including Senator Galvano’s three children and his family, much of it having nothing to do with academics.  This collection will not be influenced or stopped by the senator’s good amendment.

2)      “May” vs. “must” – In Senator Galvano’s amendment, it says:

To satisfy confidentiality protections of

  300  this section and 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, also known as the Family

  301  Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the department may

  302  assign an anonymized random identification number to each record

  303  before providing access to data. The department shall develop

  304  and the State Board of Education shall adopt rules regarding

  305  redacting and anonymizing personally identifiable information. (Emphasis added)

In our view, the use of the word “may” on line 301 indicates that the assigning of the random ID number is optional.  Given that this data listed in the amendment is the most sensitive data of all the ridiculously large amount of data that is collected by the school to be given to the federal government and given or sold to outside researchers and corporations, we believe that nothing should be optional regarding its protection.

3)      Reliance on FERPA – The above quoted language also says:

To satisfy confidentiality protections of

  300  this section and 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, also known as the Family

  301  Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)…

Because FERPA has been so weakened by both Congress and the Obama administration via regulatory changes to the point that there is a federal lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center against the US Department of Education on this matter, we are not at all confident that relying on FERPA is in any way helpful.  We believe that Florida should exercise its rights under the 10th Amendment and protect student data, regardless of FERPA.

4)      Psychological data – As we discussed yesterday, psychological data is not specifically mentioned in the amendment language.  Although, as you pointed out, psychological data may be subsumed under “medical records,” we are very concerned about the document published by the US Department of Education discussing the need to teach, test and monitor psychological parameters such as “key psychological resources (mindsets, learning strategies, and effortful control) for a range of purposes” and “intrapersonal and interpersonal skills”   via “data mining” and “affective computing,” the latter of which includes the use of these types of monitoring devices:

 In addition, the Washington Post reported that studies involving these wireless skin conductance bracelets were funded by the Gates Foundation (here and here) and that the Gates Foundation also hopes to have a camera in every classroom in the nation (see here )

Therefore, we strongly believe that specific language regarding data collection of these types of data via the above types of means should be added to the bill’s list of prohibited items on lines 307-313, such as the following:

Any data collected to measure psychological resources, mindsets, learning strategies, effortful control, attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and interpersonal and intrapersonal resources.

Any data collected via affective computing, including analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, galvanic skin response, heart rate variability, pulse, blood volume, posture, and eye tracking.

5)      It is also important to understand that all of the other sensitive data points on the National Education Data Model  or the Student Data Handbook that are not covered by the excellent specific prohibitions in Senator Galvano’s amendments will still be available to corporations and outside researchers.  These include:

·         At Risk Status (However and by whom that is determined)

·         Dwelling Arrangement

·         Change in Developmental Status

·         Amount of Non-school Activity Involvement

6)      Finally, although we did not discuss this yesterday, the language in the bill on lines 351-360 regarding penalties for breaches of student data privacy is probably stronger than what is in FERPA.  However, the monetary penalties go to the Department instead of going to the students and their families whose very personal data privacy is breached with the affected parties forced to hire attorneys to receive any redress.  We think, at a minimum, prohibitions on commercial data ought to include the following:

does not further a commercial, trade, or profit interest with any entity that intends to use that information for development of commercial products or services or that intends to transfer that information to any other entity for use in development of commercial products or services;

Share any personally identifiable information about any student or teacher with any entity inside the state unless that entity is an education agency or institution that does not intend to:

(1)          Use the information to develop commercial products or services;

(2)          Transfer the information to any other entity to use in development of commercial products or services; or

(3)          Use or transfer the information for economic development or workforce planning.

In addition, it would be wise to increase the penalties and have some amount go to the students whose data was breached.

Print Friendly

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.