Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Does Our State Superintendent Truly Care About Student Privacy?

Readers of our blog and our research know we have worked very hard to describe the ways in which the state government is working toward feeding the federal government individual student data collected from public schools thanks to our state's love for federal programming (see the bottom of this post for links).  You might remember one of our more nationally popular memes (it was re-tweeted by Anthony Cody of EdWeek) was the Four Pillars of America's Education Takeover:

The Four Pillars show the relationship of the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) to all other major education 'reforms' endorsed by the Obama Administration since 2009, now being utilized in nearly every state in the Union.

Today, I got an email message from the CEDS (Common Education Data Standards - the group creating the 'common' identifiers that all states can use to share student data across state lines) and I wanted to share it:

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is pleased to announce the release of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Version 4.  CEDS is a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors.  CEDS Version 4 includes a broad scope of elements spanning much of the P-20W spectrum and provides greater context for understanding the standards' interrelationships and practical utility.  Version 4 includes 1,346 unique elements including 236 new elements and 85 updated elements.

A new resource is available with the release of Version 4: CEDS Extend. Now users can view NCES Handbook data elements alongside CEDS elements as part of the CEDS searchable data elements and the Domain Entity Schema.  Also included in this release are 15 tutorials on using CEDS Align and Connect as well as an expanded list of publications describing how to use CEDS (and more examples are coming).

Version 4 of CEDS can be found at the CEDS website:  http://ceds.ed.gov

The CEDS website includes three ways to view and interact with CEDS:
  1. By element: Via the Elements page, users can access a searchable glossary of the CEDS "vocabulary," including names, definitions, option sets, technical specifications, and more.
  2. By relationship: Through the CEDS Data Model, users can explore the relationships that exist among entities and elements-viewable both through a logical data model.
  3. By comparison: Supplemental tools enable users to take the next step and put CEDS into practice. CEDS ALIGN allows a user to load his or her organization's data dictionary and compare it, in detail, to CEDS and the data dictionaries of other users' organizations. This facilitates alignment with CEDS and across systems, paving the way for easier sharing and comparison of data. CEDS CONNECT enables users at different levels to consider "connections" such as metric definitions of data points, policy questions, or federal data reporting requirements by establishing the data elements necessary to answer a given connection, as well as recommend logic and routines for analysis.
Guess what?  All these 'elements' this email lauds so happily, are named fields that can be used to directly identify YOUR public school CHILD in a national database - fields like, "voting status" or "religious affiliation".

Julia and Lynn have gone to nearly all of Oklahoma's P20W (P = PreK, 20 = 20 years, W = workforce) meetings where participants discuss ways in which Oklahoma can comply with the federal government's need for student data.  They have taken notes and have audio recordings of these proceedings to prove these people care not at all about your children, but simply what your children can provide the federal government in terms of information about themselves and your family all to create newer and better (and more restrictive) federal programming none of which is needed to educate children.

Here was the kicker for today.  Just a few hours ago, Lynn sent me a Facebook message with the following link, "Formal Response To The Chief State School Officers' Letter On Student Privacy".  The response was from a group called Education Liberty Watch, run by a woman named Karen Ephraim M.D., whom I have interviewed for School Reform News, and who happens to be a clinical psychiatrist.  I have personally followed Education Liberty Watch for a number of years and have been educated on a much deeper level about the issues inside public education than I have with commercial publications such as EdWeek (who provides education news by taking money from Bill Gates, among others)  Dr. Ephraim took the letter - signed by 34 Chief State School Officers - and dissected it thoroughly - as any good physician would.

I am not going plumb her analysis here because I essentially agree, and you can read it yourself through the link I have provided.  Though this letter really means nothing much at all in reality - in exactly the same way Governor Fallin's Executive Order on Common Core meant nothing in reality - as Dr. Ephraim points out, these Chiefs very stridently inform Secretary Arne Duncan;
We are writing today to confirm that the consortia will not share any personally identifiable information about K–12 students with USED or any federal agency.
As I read over the 34 names, I didn't find Dr. Barresi's name on the list anywhere!

I guess in one way I'm comforted, as I am fairly well exhausted of the OSDE's constant attempts to fool or finesse the facts about Oklahoma's school 'reform' platforms and programs.  However, it sticks in my craw that - even though the governor saw fit to at least try and 'finesse' the facts about data sharing and education reform through her CC Executive Order - Dr. Barresi didn't even BOTHER to try this time.  She just flat didn't sign the letter at all.

But then, after all, she is the one that hired John Kraman, the Executive Director of Student Information who has worked for The American Diploma Project and Achieve - the Washington, DC epicenters of these new federal education programs!  In fact, Mr. Kraman has told Lynn and Julia that he is here to do one job - create Oklahoma's State Longitudinal Database System - giving him little luxury to worry about the students involved.

Truly, this is WORSE than OBNOXIOUS!  This callous disregard for the CHILDREN involved in this massive data sharing 'collaboration' among states and the feds.  Though I advise EVERYONE to become educated on this topic, I certainly don't advise you joining any of the CEDS email strands or other the CEDS 'Sandbox' news alerts.  The disregard for the privacy of children and their families by this group that seems to WORSHIP data as a deity, is truly frightening.

Maybe Dr. Barresi didn't join the other 34 Chiefs because she knew the letter didn't mean much in the real world of state/federal entanglements, but then again, maybe her most expensive OSDE hire (Kraman) tells everything we need to know about where her loyalties lie.


The State Longitudinal Database and Child Privacy - YouTube

An Analysis of Recent Education Reforms and the Resulting Impact on Student Privacy http://www.scribd.com/doc/94149078/An-Analysis-of-Recent-Education-Reforms-and-the-Resulting-Impact-on-Student-Privacy

How Much Data is Enough Data; what happens to privacy when bureaucracies exceed their scope?

What Oklahomans Need to Know About The P20 Council