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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Common Core and privacy concerns



cartoon credit: cagle.com

Ohio may yet pass legislation to get rid of Common Core “standards” in our schools. And now Columnist/blogger Michelle Malkin reported on serious privacy issues - in addition to the quality-of-education problem:

. . .  Parents, teachers and administrators who object to the government education “standards” racket — which usurps local control, impedes academic achievement and undermines family privacy — have politicians on the defensive.  . . .
Common Core jerkitude is a bipartisan disease. Lair’s ridicule of grave parental concerns about Common Core data mining follows in the footsteps of Democratic U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (who derided opponents as “white suburban moms”) and GOP former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (who derided opponents’ motives as “purely political”). It’s all a snitty, snotty smokescreen that will backfire as more families from all parts of the political spectrum discover the truth about Common Core’s invasive nature.
Assessing Common Core is inextricably tied to the big business of data collection and data mining. States that took the Race to the Top bribes in exchange for adopting Common Core must now comply with the edutech requirements of two private testing conglomerates, the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Common Core states also agreed to expand existing statewide longitudinal database systems that contain sensitive student data from pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education.
Will Estrada and Katie Tipton of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association conclude that “it will become increasingly difficult to protect the personal information of homeschool and private school students as these databases grow.” In addition to stimulus and Race to the Top enticements, both the Education and Labor Departments have funded several other initiatives to build and make various interoperable student and teacher databases.
“Before our eyes,” Estrada and Tipton warn, “a ‘national database’ is being created in which every public school student’s personal information and academic history will be stored.” It’s no laughing matter.
Just this week, SafeGov.org, a computer privacy watchdog group, reported that Google has admitted in recent court filings that “it data mines student emails for ad-targeting purposes outside of school, even when ad serving in school is turned off.” The newly exposed documents explicitly “confirm in a sworn public court declaration that even when ad serving is turned off in Google Apps for Education (GAFE), the contents of users’ emails are still being scanned by Google in order to target ads at those same users when they use the web outside of Google Apps (for example, when watching a YouTube video, conducting a Google search, or viewing a web page that contains a Google+ or DoubleClick cookie).” Last month, I reported on how Google is building brand loyalty through a questionable GAFE certification program that essentially turns teachers into tax-subsidized lobbyists for the company.
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Read the rest here


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