Public Education is About to Get A Lot More Orwellian…

Where to begin. While the concept described in this article will seem reasonable to many at first glance, this is a very dangerous idea in my opinion.  Do we really want a national database of all public school children from K-12?  Even if the database only stored basic information like math and reading abilities I would still be against it, but this goes much, much further than that.  In some cases the database will cover “student hobbies, career goals and attitudes toward school.”  So I suppose whatever Facebook fails to capture, this thing will.  Just think about the potential for future abuse.  What if someone in the Federal government down the road wants to be able to identify disobedient children from an early age and track them.  If they have a “negative attitude” toward the public school system will they be flagged as “undesirable” at a young age? What a potential Orwellian nightmare this could become.  From Reuters:

(Reuters) – An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

Federal officials say the database project complies with privacy laws. Schools do not need parental consent to share student records with any “school official” who has a “legitimate educational interest,” according to the Department of Education. The department defines “school official” to include private companies hired by the school, so long as they use the data only for the purposes spelled out in their contracts.

Only in America can the definition of “school official” mean private companies.

While inBloom pledges to guard the data tightly, its own privacy policy states that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

Larry Berger, an executive at Amplify Education, says the data could be mined to develop “early warning systems.” Perhaps it will turn out, for instance, that most high school dropouts began to struggle with math at age 8. If so, all future 8-year-olds fitting that pattern could be identified and given extra help.

Or if any children with a spark or creative spirit that may threaten the “state” can be identified, that could be useful too couldn’t it?

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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4 Comments

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  1. Why should people expect any else from government schools?

  2. When you’ve got 100s of millions of cattle, you need to keep them tagged.

  3. Seriously?

    I used to LIVE for filling out stupidity like that.

    Lessee, whadda we got here?

    Preferred occupation? See Ron Jeremy. Duh.

    Preferred hobbies? See previous entry

    Most Admired American? Billie Sol Estes!!!

    There’s a reason that youth think their elders are superficial, self-aggrandizing dipshits that will wreck the country if not checked.

    Being curious and having a strong sense of civic mindedness, perhaps students will be inspired to inquire about everything a company can possibly send them, possibly costing a cool $1000 in postage alone. Thus saving the Postal Service, and keeping a family of 4 warm all winter.

  4. Just blaming the government is a very hyper-simplistic response to the article. If you read it correctly you would realize that it is a private company that came up with this idea and now is using it to extract taxpayer’s money from states. The way they do this is by using lobbyists to give money to politicians in state legislatures in exchange for supporting legislation to have their product implemented. For their thousands of dollars in lobbying money they will get millions in return on investment in contracts to market to, and be big brother to our children. As you will notice there is no counterbalancing influence from the voters or tax payers in this process. We can hardly call America a democracy anymore. Instead we have a government purchased by and working for big business.
    Money given to public officials to influence their actions or decision’s is the dictionary definition of the word “BRIBE”. It is a lobbyist’s job to influence politicians. It is what they are being paid to do. Any money, gifts or services they provide to public officials absolutely meet the definition of bribery. It’s time we make the dictionary definition the legal definition and start prosecuting corrupt politicians and lobbyists.

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