Reaction in the United States
Governments have a track record with centralized data systems, and it is not a good one.
As discussed earlier, many states have already received millions of dollars to build their own Leviathan so tend to be farther ahead than Wyoming. Parent groups in those states, however, are not sitting still.
According to a Washington Post article,11 a Gates-Foundation-funded database pilot project called InBloom saw a pullback in states including Louisiana, Georgia and five others, leaving New York and Illinois alone to participate in the project. Privacy was the main issue — InBloom couldn’t guarantee the security of the data, in particular Social Security numbers.
Closer to home, Jefferson County School District in Colorado has slowed its participation in the InBloom data collection pilot project after parent outcry. According to the district’s website:
“The difficulty in implementing information technology into the practice of social work/child welfare and the potential for negative unanticipated consequences or impacts to practice were consistent themes throughout the literature reviewed...”
“The plan to use InBloom, a 501c3, as the “middleware” in the classroom dashboard system has resulted in questions related to student privacy and data security. The Data Management Advisory Council, made up of parents, educators, IT and IT security experts and business leaders was created to examine the issues relating to student data management and make recommendations.
The committee will “make a “stop” or “go” recommendation regarding InBloom by January of 2014.”12
At the moment, much of the countrywide battle against the data system is tied up with the battle against the Common Core education standards. However, Leviathan has been around for longer. Even if Common Core goes the way of the federal education dinosaurs that preceded it, that is no guarantee that Leviathan itself will disappear.
A group called Montanans against Common Core spoke out against the data collection system in at least one article.13
In Florida, Parents Against Common Core14 also protested against Leviathan.
“Even if Common Core goes the way of the federal education dinosaurs that preceded it, that is no guarantee that Leviathan itself will disappear.”
In North Caroline, Stop Common Core NC is particularly concerned about data mining from Preschool to Workforce.15
According to a CBS News report,16 parent groups vented their outrage with the New York City Department of Education’s allowing private companies to collect student data, including personal and health information.
Sheila Kaplan of Education New York17 has initiated a national opt-out campaign18 that is encouraging parents to protect the privacy of their children’s school records. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Kaplan says that parents can restrict third-party access to their children’s information.19
In Utah, parent groups are also concerned about government tracking children without parental consent or knowledge.20
But even here in Wyoming, parent groups are not sitting still. Groups such as the Wyoming Liberty Group, Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core and others have spoken out against government control of children’s personal data. Wyoming parents and teachers must know they are not alone in their concern about federal and state government data mining of their children’s personal information.
In its effort to race to the top of the federal funding heap, and benefit from the Santa Claus state, Wyoming put itself on the hook to spend millions of Wyoming taxpayer’s dollars to build a Leviathan that may waste millions and endanger the private personal information of vulnerable children.
An education system in crisis puts politicians into “do something” mode, but instead of looking at existing data within a dysfunctional system to somehow make that system work – for government, that is – government should extract itself from the equation and make the education system answerable to parents, teachers and schools.
We can implement the conditions for an education system that works for the people who use it — parents and their children. People appreciate the need for teachers who know how to convey a love of learning. To make schools answer to the people they are supposed to serve, parents must be free to choose the education option best suited to their children.
Instead of spending millions of dollars to finance another failed attempt to make an education system accountable to the whims of the government of the day, the federal government should 1) get out of the education business and 2) respect parental authority. If an organization is accountable to its customers, it will better serve their needs instead of bureaucrats and administrators. Wyoming doesn’t need a centralized data system holding the personal information of all the children in the state, and taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund it. ■