Browsing articles in "Data Collection and Data Privacy"
Jun 28, 2014
ELW

Rep. Bachmann Stands Against Newborn Genetic Data Collection Starting to be Used in CCSS Databases

Sadly, on June 24th, the US House passed HR 1281, a bill that nationalizes newborn genetic screening without consent on a voice vote without a roll call or amendments. There are many problems with the bill from a health care freedom and privacy standpoint that include as described by great expert on and champion  of medical freedom and privacy, Twila Brase of Citizens Council for Health Freedom in her alert:

1) No Consent Requirement.
2) Long-Term Surveillance.
3) Nationalized Newborn Screening.
4) Intrusive Labeling, Profiling and Sharing.
5) Genetic Research on Newborns.
6) Genetic Testing of Newborns for Conditions Not Yet Determined Appropriate for Newborn Screening.
7) $99.5 Million Price Tag.

The reason that Education Liberty Watch and our project organization, The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition are so concerned is because there is already at least one state program in place that is linking this newborn genetic data to early childhood and K-12 databases being implemented through the Race to the Top and Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and linked to the Common Core standards and related tests.  Rhode Island said the following in their Early Learning Challenge grant application:

“Rhode Island’s proposed early learning data system will be linked to both the state’s K-12 data system and to the state’s universal newborn screening and health data system, helping to identify children with high needs, track participation in programs, and track children’s development and learning.”
The cradle to grave federal educational control is discussed in an Education Liberty Watch article about the Early Learning Challenge program.  Rhode Island’s program was also discussed and highlighted at the National Center for Education Statistics national data conference in Washington DC last summer detailed in this report.
However, Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6) showed great courage and grace under fire to bring up the consent and privacy problems even though the bill was going to pass. Hopefully, something can be done to remedy this in the appropriations process and links to Common Core databases can be stopped. Here is the video of  Mrs. Bachmann’s important and courageous speech:

Jan 30, 2014
ELW

National Anti-Common Core Statement on the State School Chiefs’ Letter Regarding Data Privacy

We the undersigned organizations, representing millions of families and teachers across the nation, issue the following statement in response to the January 23rd, 2014 letter by thirty-four chief state school officers to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding student data privacy:

This letter is their attempt to reassure the public that individual student data would not be given to the federal government by the states in the federal testing consortia, that there is a prohibition on the creation of a national database,  and that states will be in control of student assessment data.

 

Unfortunately, none of that is true.  As is shown in the formal response to this letter by Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, the assurances in this letter are essentially meaningless.  Current federal law and regulations, the cooperative agreement between the national testing consortia and the federal government, and statements in federal reports all show that the federal government will receive individual student data one way or the other.

 

“The letter is deceptive,” said Effrem.  “The states may not give the individual student test data to the federal government, but the cooperative agreement and the federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations require or allow the consortia to give individual test and other student data to the feds without consent.”

 

“This is just a bait and switch effort meant to appease worried parents and politicians that are feeling the heat from angry constituents,” agreed Angela Davidson Weinzinger, founder of Parents and Educators Against Common Core.

 

As state and national grassroots organizations opposed to the implementation of the Common Core system of federally supported or controlled national standards, tests, and data collection that will be destructive to our children’s future and our nation’s freedom, we concur with this analysis.

 

The only way to truly protect our children’s data is to restore local control of education that has been usurped by the unconstitutional presence and actions of the US Department of Education.  Until that ultimate goal is reached, we will work to remove each of our states from the state longitudinal data systems and demand genuine state developed standards and assessments, instead of name changes, cosmetic adjustments to the Common Core standards, and deceptive reassurances about state control of test data.

 

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:

Education Liberty Watch

*Advocates for Academic Freedom
*Advocates for Academic Freedom

*Advocates for Academic Freedom

Badass Parents Association

Badass Teachers Association

Home School Legal Defense Association

Parent-Led Reform

Parents and Educators Against Common Core

Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

STATE ORGANIZATIONS:

ALABAMA

Alabama Eagle Forum

Alabamians United for Excellence in Education

ARKANSAS

     Arkansas Against Common Core

COLORADO

Core Concerns, Fort Collins

CONNECTICUT

Stop Common Core in CT

FLORIDA

Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Florida Parents Against Common Core

GEORGIA

Georgians to Stop Common Core

IDAHO

*Idaho Eagle Forum

Idahoans for Local Education

IOWA

Iowans for Local Control

KANSAS

     Kansans Against Common Core

KENTUCKY

Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards in Kentucky

MASSACHUSETTS

MA Parents Interested in Common Core

Massachusetts Coalition for Superior Education Standards

MICHIGAN

Stop Common Core in Michigan

MINNESOTA

Minnesotans Against Common Core

MISSOURI

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core

NEVADA

               Parent Led Reform Nevada

               *Stop Common Core Nevada

NEW JERSEY

C5-NJ (the Committee to Combat the Common Core Curriculum-NJ)

NEW MEXICO

NM Refuse the Tests

NEW YORK

Stop Common Core in New York State

NORTH DAKOTA

    *Stop Common Core in North Dakota

OREGON

Parent Led Reform Oregon

SOUTH CAROLINA

      *Parents Involved in Education

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota Against Common Core

TENNESSEE

*Tennessee Against Common Core

*Tennessee Eagle Forum

TEXAS

Parent Led Reform Texas

*Texas Eagle Forum

UTAH

     *Utahns Against Common Core

     *Utah Eagle Forum

VIRGINIA

Stop Common Core in Virginia

WEST VIRGINA

    * West Virginia Against Common Core

WASHINGTON

Washington State Against Common Core Standards

Bottom of Form WYOMING

 Wyoming Freedom in Education

This statement continues to garner support across the country.  An * indicates organizations that signed on after the statement was first released.

Jan 28, 2014
ELW

Formal Response to the Chief State School Officers’ Letter on Student Data Privacy

Formal Response to the Chief State School Officers’ Letter on Student Data Privacy

Karen R. Effrem, MD

President of Education Liberty Watch and Co-Founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

On January 23rd, 2014, thirty-four chief state school officers sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan trying to reassure the public that individual student test data will not be given to the federal government and that that data is safe as the Common Core national standards and federally funded and supervised national tests are put into place.

Here are the important quotes from that letter:

  • “We are writing today to confirm that the consortia will not share any personally identifiable information about K–12 students with USED or any federal agency.”  (Emphasis in original)
  • “Our states have not submitted student-level assessment data in the past; the transition to the new assessments should not cause anyone to worry that federal reporting requirements will change when, in fact, the federal government is prohibited from establishing a student-level database that would contain assessment data for every student.”
  • “As we have historically done, our states will continue to provide USED with school-level data from our state assessments as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended in 2002. Our states and local education agencies will continue to retain control over student assessment data and will continue to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations with regard to the protection of student privacy.”
  • “We are confirming that our states will not provide such information to USED and that everything we have said here is consistent with our understanding of the cooperative agreement between the consortia and USED.”

These statements are problematic on a multitude of levels for the following reasons:

  • The testing consortia are under obligation to the U.S. Department of Education to provide individual student test data via the cooperative agreements that they signed:

“Comply with and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant award, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student – level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws” (Emphasis added)

  • The most applicable privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), has been so weakened via regulation that there is no real protection of individual student data.

 §99.31   Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?

  • Individual student data may be released without consent to organizations and entities that have “legitimate educational interests,” which basically means for any reason that a state or the federal governments or researchers or corporations want to use the data in conjunction with any state or federal program.

(a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by §99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:

(1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests. 

  • The regulations give private corporations, foundations, and researchers or even volunteers access to our children’s data without parental consent.

(B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party—  (Emphasis added)

(1) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees;

(2) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records; and

(3) Is subject to the requirements of §99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

  • FERPA currently allows data to be given without consent to authorized representatives of the following entities including the US Department of Education, which combined with the cooperative agreement quoted above make the state chiefs letter MEANINGLESS.  The authorized representatives include the “contractor, consultant or volunteer” entities quoted above :

(3) The disclosure is, subject to the requirements of §99.35, to authorized representatives of—

(i) The Comptroller General of the United States;

(ii) The Attorney General of the United States;

(iii) The Secretary [of Education]; or (Emphasis added)

(iv) State and local educational authorities.

  • The regulations  give the states and the consortia carte blanche to “legally” give individual student test and other data to the federal government without consent to continue to develop and evaluate the national tests and “improve instruction” meaning the NCLB waivers that require the Common Core standards.

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (Emphasis added).

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

  • So, even though the letter says the states will comply with current federal law and regulations, nothing is stopping the states entering into an agreement with the consortia and the consortia from “redisclosing” this data to the feds.

(ii) Nothing in the Act or this part prevents a State or local educational authority or agency headed by an official listed in paragraph (a)(3) of this section from entering into agreements with organizations conducting studies under paragraph (a)(6)(i) of this section and redisclosing personally identifiable information from education records on behalf of educational agencies and institutions that disclosed the information to the State or local educational authority or agency headed by an official listed in paragraph (a)(3) of this section in accordance with the requirements of §99.33(b).  (Emphasis added.)

  • The data is supposed to be protected but may be given to any entity with a “legitimate interest” in the information, which as has been explained is defined very broadly.

­­­­­

  • Although there is a prohibition against a national student database in one section of federal  law called the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) that says, “Nothing in this title may be construed to authorize the establishment of a nationwide database of individually identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this title; (Section 182)” that language appears to be negated by this language in Section 157:

“The Statistics Center [meaning the National Center for Education Statistics] may establish 1 or more national cooperative education statistics systems for the purpose of producing and maintaining, with the cooperation of the States, comparable and uniform information and data on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, adult education, and libraries, that are useful for policymaking at the Federal, State, and local levels.” (Emphasis added).

That language is even more worrisome in light of the grants to fund and promote state longitudinal databases in section 208 of ESRA, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and even more heavily promoted in the Race to the Top K-12 and Early Learning Challenge programs.  Although the federal government will not be developing a national database, the SLDS and other regulatory language allow it to happen in a de facto manner.  (Here is a  full analysis of the federal issues).

  • This loss of data privacy when the federal government is both funding and supervising the development of the national tests is extremely worrisome, especially, as shown below, because the standards and assessments are meant to teach and test psychological parameters.

“The [federal] review will focus on two broad areas of assessment development: the consortium’s research confirming the validity of the assessment results and the consortium’s approach to developing items and tasks.”   (Emphasis added)

  • Given that the federal government admits  that the Common Core standards will be teaching and the aligned national tests will be assessing psychological or “non-cognitive” traits, parents should not be reassured by this letter:

“In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.”  (Emphasis added.)

“[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science, significant attention will need to be given to the design of tasks and situations that call on students to apply a range of 21st century competencies that are relevant to each discipline. A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.” (Emphasis added).

The only way to truly protect our children’s data is to restore local control of education that has been usurped by the unconstitutional presence and actions of the US Department of Education.  Until that ultimate goal is reached, we will work to remove each of our states from the state longitudinal data systems and demand genuine state developed standards and assessments, instead of name changes, cosmetic adjustments to the Common Core standards, and deceptive reassurances about state control of test data.

Jan 22, 2014
ELW

WorldNetDaily Features Education Liberty Watch in Major Expose on Common Core Data Mining and Psychological Manipulation

WorldNetDaily, the major national and international website did an in-depth article about the dangerous Common Core linked psychological manipulation and data mining.  They interviewed Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch,  and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project.  Here are some excerpts:

Dr. Karen Effrem, president of the national watchdog group, Education Liberty Watch, is sounding an alarm about Common Core, the federal education standards that almost all states are adopting by accepting federal “Race to the Top” funding.

Under Common Core, Effrem said, students’ personal information increasingly is being collected, measured and assessed while the standards shift the focus away from academics and toward psychological training and testing of personal attitudes and behaviors.

Jane Robbins, senior fellow with the American Principles Project and a Common Core expert, shares Effrem’s concerns.

She said an agreement between a group that develops the Common Core tests and the DOE requires the consortium to give the DOE “complete access to any and all data collected at the state level.”

Robbins said parents will not be notified if personal information about their children is released, nor will they be told who gets it

The issue of psychological manipulation, testing, and data collection was also presented:

Effrem said many Common Core standards and assessments will be used to collect data that go beyond academics to focus on student’s psychological attitudes, values and beliefs.

She points to documents from the National School Boards Association, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the U.S. Department of Education that promote teaching children beyond academics to focus on “non-cognitive” “21st Century skills” that include the disposition, social skills and behavior of children.

“Various elements of SEL can be found in nearly every state’s K-12 standards framework and in the Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts,” states the National Association of State Boards of Education in an October 2013 paper, “From Practice to Policy.”

SEL (social emotional learning) is also starting to be incorporated in federal policies and initiatives, such as the Race to the Top, according to a 2013 CASEL report, “The Missing Piece, How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/nsa-ops-walk-in-park-next-to-plans-to-track-kids/#jMh91umZ4Qp2S9Cj.99

Effrem said many Common Core standards and assessments will be used to collect data that go beyond academics to focus on student’s psychological attitudes, values and beliefs.

She points to documents from the National School Boards Association, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the U.S. Department of Education that promote teaching children beyond academics to focus on “non-cognitive” “21st Century skills” that include the disposition, social skills and behavior of children.

“Various elements of SEL can be found in nearly every state’s K-12 standards framework and in the Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts,” states the National Association of State Boards of Education in an October 2013 paper, “From Practice to Policy.”

SEL (social emotional learning) is also starting to be incorporated in federal policies and initiatives, such as the Race to the Top, according to a 2013 CASEL report, “The Missing Piece, How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools.”

The post also discussed how school districts are monitoring students’ movements and photographing them through district issued computers and iPads:
At least one school district has spied on students using school-issued laptops as revealed in a 2010 class action lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District in Philadelphia, Pa.  There, remote webcam spying was revealed after district officials attempted to punish then 15-year-old Blake Robbins for behavior in his bedroom.  The district admitted it gave students laptops they could use at home that included webcams that could be activated remotely by district personnel to spy on students. Through the suit, it was revealed that two high schools in the district had secretly snapped 66,000 images.
Another student filed a separate lawsuit against the district after he discovered his school-issued laptop had been used to capture over 1,000 photos and screenshots without his knowledge. These days, many districts have graduated to more portable products, like iPads, to give students.  A concerned father in Farmington, Minn., said the iPad initiative has resulted in district officials frequently examining the equipment that many also use at home.
Much needs to be done to protect student data privacy on the state and federal levels.  This will be an ongoing issue in 2014.