Common Core has scary implications

July 7, 2014

What is the difference between the NSA spying on Americans without warrants or probable cause, and Common Core’s massive data collection on our children? If you thought the NSA was intrusive, collecting megadata on phone calls, and internet data like emails, websites visited, articles read, books ordered, and internet research done; you don’t understand the word “intrusive.”

NSA data will let the government know what you think and believe, as well as whom you know, and perhaps what you are planning.

The Common Core Data Collection Program will let the government know all that, plus what your children’s skills are, how quickly they learn, what they are capable of, all they can ever be and more. The plan is unprecedented in scope, seeking to collect some 400 data points on each child K-12 and beyond. The authorities will know more about your children than your children will ever know about themselves.

This should certainly shock American parents to the core. In a report published last year by the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance,” the government authors of that document expressed strong interest in monitoring U.S. students’ “beliefs, attitudes, dispositions, values and ways of perceiving one’s self.”

The DoE report also calls for measuring non-cognitive attributes such as “psychological resources.” One of the schemes, for instance, involves researchers using “functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and physiological indicators [that] offer insight into the biology and neuroscience underlying observed student behaviors.” It also records “facial expressions,” as well as “skin sensors” that would monitor students’ physiological reactions.

Alex Newman, writing in The New American, talks about some of the troubling implications behind federal efforts: families can’t be trusted to instill the right [“government-approved”] values and attitudes, consider what government itself can do with all of that data on Americans [think IRS], and the possibility that hackers might target the information. Big data “makes anonymity of an individual student’s information practically impossible”, explain Joy Pullman and Emmet McGroarty, authors of “Cog in the Machine” (CM). Even homeschooled or private school children may be included.

“Finally, the rush to collect and share students’ data implicates more fundamental problems; it turns the concept of constitutional protections of privacy on its head as government learns and records more about each citizen. Even if government were to keep the information private, the very existence of a ‘dossier’ is intimidating and inhibiting. This alters both civil society and the private realm, and not in the direction of greater freedom,” say the authors of CM.

Parents should object to any such data collection and opt out. State lawmakers should pass strong laws protecting student privacy. It’s hard to believe, but Congress gutted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, last year.

“Most federal and state privacy laws are woefully inadequate,” explained CM co-author Emmet McGroarty. “Many were enacted over forty years ago and fail to protect against the power of modern computers and government’s recent initiatives to create massive databases of personal information. The rights of children and their families are at stake.”

This is big government run amok! We need to get back to the decentralized and limited powers of a Constitutional federal government with enumerated powers, three co-equal branches, with checks and balances, a Congress that legislates, a President that enforces the Rule of Law, and a Supreme Court that upholds “original intent”. Those safeguards were there to protect us from centralized power and central-planning. They still are if the people understand their Constitution and insist on government following it.

Armand Carreau

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