Robert Swiggum, the Georgia Department of Education's chief information officer, explained to PolitiFact that his state's system "collects data points in about 10 categories," including "a student's name, grade, gender, ethnicity, birth date, attendance, enrollment history, test scores, courses taken and grade received, and any subgroup (example: English language learner, retained, economically disadvantaged)." PolitiFact added, "Each of the categories has dozens of data points that can vary." Bottom line: lots of personal information.
In a White House press release dated Jan. 19, 2010, Obama and Duncan stated that the purpose of expanding the longitudinal data systems was to make the massive amount of information "more accessible ... to key stakeholders."
Wondering who the "key stakeholders" are? Let's just say I don't think it's a coincidence that a 2012 White House budget sheet for the Department of Labor also mentions grants being offered to expand the workforce information side of the data system coin. The grants "support the development of longitudinal data systems that integrate education and workforce data to provide timely and accessible information to consumers, policymakers, and others."
Did you catch that? "To consumers, policymakers, and others"? And what or -- more appropriately -- whose information are the feds providing (or peddling?)? So much for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law established to protect the privacy interests of students. I guess the Department of Education, which maintains FERPA, decided it really liked this statement in it: "Schools may disclose, without consent, 'directory' information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance."
U.S. Department of Education press secretary Dorie Turner Nolt explained in June, when she was with the Georgia Department of Education, that the data in the state's longitudinal data system are computerized but that the students' information is, in PolitiFact's words, "not shared beyond the student's teachers and school administrators." She needed to add the word "yet."
Don't ever forget the White House's words in its own memos: for "key stakeholders," who, at the very least, include "consumers, policymakers, and others." And guess who gets to define "others." (Now you're getting the picture!)
You don't think the feds gave away billions of taxpayer dollars to states and public schools without expecting anything in return or to be included in the informational mix, do you? It's one big happy federal and state communication merry-go-round with your family's private information from the school cradle to the federal grave!
In Part 4, I will show further evidence from the feds themselves that the longitudinal data systems and new Common Core State Standards are intricately intertwined and going to be used by the federal government and state governments to tap your children's personal information and to leverage significant educational change.
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