State Leviathan to Consume Children's Private Information
by Maureen Bader
Education spending will be most effective if it relies on parental choice and private initiative --
the building blocks of success throughout our society – Milton Friedman
Forward by Susan Gore, M.A.
If our legislature is to ensure an education appropriate for every child in Wyoming it must, first, deregulate to free the private and public initiatives that create educational options; second, put funding allocation choices into the hands of parents via backpacking of opportunity scholarships; and third, defend local control from state and national bribes such as those described here. Then educators will provide what parents want instead of being distracted by expensive irrelevancies such as inordinate data collection. When parents are no longer restrained from expanding home schooling or choosing which schools their children will attend, they will be able to hold their own vis a vis special interests, including a distant bureaucracy and curriculum and testing companies. The presumption to categorize and manage from afar on the basis of data collection brings to mind an out-of-touch factory manager who never walks the production floor but, relying on misleading reports and oblivious to what is really going on, attempts to micro-manage from his office. America does not work that way; we are a hands-on culture, and we don’t need a data Leviathan. But unfortunately, privacy concerns and common sense aside, there is money to be had. This paper tells the money story.
The data Leviathan enables manipulation of information on the part of a collective of those whose intention is to undermine the freedom of creative thought and action, based on the assumption that they know better.
At a time when parents are protesting privacy invasions associated with federal intervention in the education system, the Wyoming state government is in the process of building a centralized data storage system to track your child’s personal information from pre-kindergarten through their post-secondary years. This State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) is a data Leviathan that will not only include your child’s private information from the education system, but also their personal data from other state agencies such as health, corrections and family services. This type of system is in various stages of development in every state.
We hear all the usual feel-good rationales to justify this privacy invasion, mostly revolving around how it will make the education system in particular more accountable. The problem, however, is that it will make the system more accountable to the very politicians and bureaucrats who are creating the downward spiral in educational outcomes in the first place.
Instead of building a data Leviathan to increase accountability to the political system and hence the politically powerful, it is time to return education accountability to parents, teachers and schools. As Ronald Reagan wisely said, government is the problem -- and government interference in education is probably the best example of a government-created downward spiral.
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