|September 2, 2013
Earlier this year, revelations about the Department of Justice spying on the Associated Press were quickly followed by revelations that the NSA was collecting phone data on all Verizon, and then all American cell phone, users. Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing drew yet more attention to the issue, and domestic surveillance programs have remained a top issue in people’s minds ever since.
While Americans focus on institutions like the CIA and NSA, though, programs are being implemented which would lead to a much more institutional way of tracking citizens. Obamacare is one of these, but Common Core Standards – the federal educational program – is the most eyebrow-raising.
Bill Gates was one of the leaders of Common Core, putting his personal money into its development, implementation and promotion, so it’s unsurprising that much of this data mining will occur via Microsoft’s Cloud system.
Even the Department of Education, though, admits that privacy is a concern, and that that some of the data gathered may be “of a sensitive nature.” The information collected will be more than sensitive; much of it will also be completely unrelated to education. Data collected will not only include grades, test scores, name, date of birth and social security number, it will also include parents’ political affiliations, individual or familial mental or psychological problems, beliefs, religious practices and income.
In addition, all activities, as well as those deemed demeaning, self-incriminating or anti-social, will be stored in students’ school records. In other words, not only will permanently stored data reflect criminal activities, it will also reflect bullying or anything perceived as abnormal. The mere fact that the White House notes the program can be used to “automatically demonstrate proof of competency in a work setting” means such data is intended to affect students’ futures.
Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that data collection will also include critical appraisals of individuals with whom students have close family relationships. The Common Core program has been heavily scrutinized recently for the fact that its curriculum teaches young children to use emotionally charged language to manipulate others and teaches students how to become community organizers and experts of the U.N.’s agenda 21.
Combined with this form of data collection, it’s easy to envision truly disturbing untruths and distortions making their way into the permanent record.
Like Common Core, states were bribed with grant money from the federal government to implement data mining, and 47 states have now implemented some form of data mining from the educational system. Only 9 have implemented the full Common Core data mining program. Though there are restrictions which make storing data difficult on the federal level, states can easily store the data and allow the federal government to access it at its own discretion.
The government won’t be the only organization with access to the information. School administrators have full control over student files, and they can choose who to share information with. Theoretically, the information could be sold, perhaps withholding identifying information. In addition, schools can share records with any “school official” without parental consent. The term “school official,” however, includes private companies which have contracts with the school.
NSA data mining is troubling because it could lead to intensely negative outcomes, because it opens up new avenues for control, and because it is fundamentally wrong. Common Core data mining, tracking students with GPS devices however, is far, far scarier.
It gives the government the ability to completely control the futures of every student of public education, and that will soon extend to private and home schools. It provides a way to intimidate students – who already have a difficult time socially – into conforming to norms which are not only social, but also political and cultural.