Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homeschoolers and Data Tracking

Will Estrada, Director of Federal Relations at HSLDA has an article discussing the data tracking aspect of Common Core.  National Databases:  Collecting Student-Specific Data is unnecessary and Orwellian. 

The 2009 federal stimulus bill created the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program as “a new one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion.”1 With this money, the Department of Education would award states money in exchange for a commitment to develop and use pre-kindergarten through post-secondary and career data systems, among other criteria.
A national database of student-specific data is very concerning for many reasons. The national databases being created now include detailed records of students, including race, gender, birth information, learning disabilities, detailed academic records, and much more. This information is being collected soon after birth, all the way through graduation from college.The more personal information that is included, the greater the danger to the student’s privacy and safety if the data is breached. Will certain data make it harder for students to get into higher education? Will it be disclosed to government employers, or even private employers?HSLDA believes that each student is unique, with far more to offer society than just the sum of their academic years. Government tracking students from soon after birth until they graduate from college is Orwellian and seems like a “Big Brother” mentality, and has no place in a free society.It is important to note that there are many reasons for aggregated student data to be available. Such data is helpful for researchers, and it is reported widely so that parents and policy makers can determine how students are doing academically. But HSLDA believes that there are very little reasons for the government to track student-specific data.

National Databases and student tracking are not new to President Obama.  It's been in the work since President Bush and in the blueprint for years before that.    National standards, testing and tracking is the primary reason I started my blog.

Data Tracking for a Seamless Pathway

The student tracking system was designed as part of the P-20 cradle to career "seamless pathway" and strikingly similar to what Bill Gates first proposed in 1999 with the Schools Interoperability Framework
DALLAS, Nov. 10, 1999 — The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and Microsoft Corp. today announced the developers release of the first working specification for the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), a new technical blueprint for ensuring that software applications in K-12 schools can share information seamlessly. The release marks the beginning of a public review period for the specification, the release of SIF deployment guidelines and the successful completion of pilot programs in two U.S. school districts.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings under President George W. Bush convened a commission on higher education that also talked about a "seamless pathway."   A report released under her direction said,
"We propose to dramatically expand college participation and success by outlining ways in which post secondary institutions, K-12 school systems, and state policy makers can work together to create a seamless pathway, between high school and college.  States K-12 graduation standards must be closely aligned with college and employer expectations."
And this isn't just an idea that Bill Gates or federal education reformers wanted to see happen.  State Governors both Republican and Democrat jumped on board with student tracking.  Governor Huckabee thought it was good thing and wrote about it in his book,
It was a priority for me to develop more accessible and effective preschool programs and to make dramatic changes in both access and affordability in higher education. We developed a seamless curriculum from pre-K through college so that there was coordination and continuity throughout the educational process." (From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 43-45)
The groundwork for what Obama was able to continue through Race For the Top started before he took office.    It's a bi-partisan debacle.  And why I was against it then and against it now.   But we're behind and defeating it will not be an easy task. Thanks to Bill Gates and Achieve, Inc. the National Governors Association is on board,  both the Democrats and the Republicans think this is a good idea.  Governor Snyder of Michigan is committed to a birth to career public education system. He said in 2011,
"We must do more to help students achieve academic success," Snyder said. "We’ve been spending money without delivering the results to give our young people a bright future. It is time that we view our educational system which runs from pre-natal to lifelong learning. It’s time to start talking about P-20 instead of just K-12. We need to establish a system that focuses on real achievement for all of our children. 
The Concerns

The privacy issue is definitely a concern for students IN the database.  Promoters of the database see the good that can come from data collection. Adaptive learning through data tracking can reportedly help students overcome struggles in various subject areas.  Just think of the grocery store scanners and how much info they get on our purchases.  They have the ability to generate personal coupons based on what I just purchased.  This is similar.   But to do so, data must shared with corporations to develop the tools.   The breach of privacy has parents in New York fuming.  It should all parents fuming.  Thanks to national education reform and the adopting of Common Core it's coming to every state that signed on.

State education policy makers are working to make sure every child is in the system.  Michigan recently attempted to get homeschooled students to register with our local school district. Virtual charters are another avenue to bring home schooled students in the system as well.  Remember, under Bush this was called No Child Left Behind and they meant it.

But those NOT in the database are not necessarily in the clear.  There is a whole different set of potential consequences for those that are outside the system and being educated in "non-standards" ways like private and homeschoolers.  (You can read more about that at my post, The Employability Olympics.)

This is where homeschooled and private schooled  who do not complete coursework not aligned with Common Core and are not "tracked" could potentially encounter problems.

Six students in a private Christian school were denied admission into college because some of their coursework (A Beka and Bob Jones) was not acceptable by the University of California system.  They lost their court battle.

Along with course work, high school "exit" exams are part of the seamless "P-20" pathway.  But accessing the exams will be difficult once the new "national exam is complete.   Two state consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC, are developing those tests.  They are scheduled to be implemented in 2014/15.  Test dates are likely to be standardized around the country.

Homeschooled students wont' be "forced" to take the exam and continue to operate outside the system. But NOT taking the exam will put a student at a disadvantage in college and career advancement.  Taking the exam, will give the government an avenue and the data they need to track our children.  

National standards + National tests + National curricula + National tracking = P - 20 seamless educational system.

Implementing national uniformity while tracking individual conformity and stifling creativity, that's the new OBE: Obama Based Education blueprint in a nutshell.

This must be defeated.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. - Ronald Reagan


Anonymous said...

I believe this is a bad thing and don't want to dump my kids into this, but what about my daughter who is currently a freshman in high school with big dreams of becoming a vet. I dont want to hinder her being able to fulfill that dream either.

Spunky said...

Yes, that is the dilemma facing every parent. I have a junior and a nine year old left. There are no easy answers. It is disappointing that it got this far. But that's where we are. Working hard to defeat it is the best option.