Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

January 6, 2014

CONFER: Big Brother takes a seat in the classroom

Niagara Gazette — Editor’s note: This is the sixth column in an eight-part series exploring Common Core.

In my last column I looked at New York’s mass data-mining experiment related to Common Core in which the Empire State is collecting individual academic histories of every student to be shared across school districts, within the state’s educational bureaucracy and with commercial third parties.

Such data collection is not without controversy because it’s a disturbing assault on families’ right to privacy.

Realize, though, that what the state is doing now is the tip of the iceberg.

When the federal government created a grant program for the development and institution of so-called Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (which is what New York’s Common Core data collection machine is most accurately called), the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education, issued a document detailing the goals of the program and what is expected from participating states.

NCES’s brief details secondary identifiers and characteristics that can be used to track students and segregate their strengths and weaknesses based on the effects of those items. Here is the expanded list of items that the NCES notes could be contained within a student’s records:

• Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent

• Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family

• Sexual behavior or attitudes

• Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior

• Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships

• Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians and ministers

• Religious practices, affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent

• Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program)

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