Archives for category: Data and Data Mining

Blogger Victoria Young warns about the voracious appetite of the Data Monster.

It is coming for your children.

She writes:

“Will we one-day look back and wonder why we let Big Data devour our children’s lives in bits and bytes?
Will we scratch our heads in confusion over why we let data become a major driver in so many aspects of our lives?

“Surely we can see that the tech giants are profiting while the greater society suffers? Maybe not.

“But we do know that Americans care about their own right to privacy.

The issue of who is gathering information and what information is being gathered is considered to be an important dimension of privacy control by nearly all American adults.” Pew Research Center (Views About Data Collection and Security)

“But I wonder, why don’t Americans care about protecting children from the BIG DATA Monster?

“When the biggest concern directing the nation is the workforce/military supply-chain for the global economy, it makes perfect sense to allow the tech industry to have access to all education, health, employment, and income records. And what could go wrong with that?”

Read it all.

“Will we one-day look back and wonder why we let Big Data devour our children’s lives in bits and bytes?
Will we scratch our heads in confusion over why we let data become a major driver in so many aspects of our lives?

Surely we can see that the tech giants are profiting while the greater society suffers? Maybe not.

But we do know that Americans care about their own right to privacy.

“The issue of who is gathering information and what information is being gathered is considered to be an important dimension of privacy control by nearly all American adults.” Pew Research Center (Views About Data Collection and Security)

“But I wonder, why don’t Americans care about protecting children from the BIG DATA Monster?

“When the biggest concern directing the nation is the workforce/military supply-chain for the global economy, it makes perfect sense to allow the tech industry to have access to all education, health, employment, and income records. And what could go wrong with that?”

She says contact your legislator by 11/15, but I didn’t get this in time for that deadline. Contact them now.

November 1, 2017

Contact: Rachael Stickland,, 303-204-1272

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy opposes the College Transparency Act and overturning the federal ban on a student unit record system

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy urges sponsors and supporters of the H.R. 2434 – College Transparency Act (CTA) to reconsider their support for this bill which would require the non-consensual collection by the federal government of the personally identifiable information of every student attending a post-secondary institution. Our members, made up of parents and privacy advocates from throughout the country, believe strongly that the 2008 Higher Education Act’s ban on the creation of a federal unit-record system should not be overturned by the CTA, and that any attempt to authorize a national student database would create an unacceptable and unaccountable surveillance system that would place our citizens at risk.

In recent months it has become clear that data held by post-secondary institutions and government agencies are under increased threat of breaches and cyberattacks. Even our “best protected” national data has been breached, including the hacking in recent years of the National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Defense (DoD), the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education was found to have weaknesses in four out of five security categories according to a 2015 security audit by the Inspector General’s Office.

Said Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy: “It’s inconceivable that Congress should entertain legislation that would increase federal collection of personal student data at a time when they have demonstrably proven they are unable to protect what data they already hold.”

Moreover, individual student data held at the federal level could be used in the future as a go-to repository of information for purposes beyond their originally prescribed intent. Even if the CTA specifies permissible uses of the data today, no Congress can limit the actions of future administrations once the data are in the government’s possession. The bill also allows for the expansion and collection of more categories of student data by the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) without authorization by Congress. This could easily lead to widespread abuse of personal information for political or ideological gain.

While we agree in principle that students seeking to attend post-secondary institutions should have sufficient information to make informed decisions, it’s possible to do so without the creation of a national student database. New NCES surveys provide previously unavailable statistics on “nontraditional” populations, making passage of the CTA an unnecessary overreach by the federal government at a time when we should minimize data collection rather than expand it.


Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
phone: 212-529-3539

The Network for Public Education just held its fourth annual conference in Oakland, California, on October 14-15.

It was a fabulous conference, with great speakers, roundtables, panels, and camaraderie.

I opened the conference on October 14. I introduced our wonderful board and staff (we have 1.5 staff members and hundreds of amazing volunteers).

I described what we are for and what we oppose.

If you agree with us, please join, donate whatever you can, and help us continue our grassroots efforts to strengthen and support public education.

In the days ahead, I will post all the keynote addresses. They were fantastic.

If you knew how inspiring these two days were, you will want to join us next year. I can’t give the location yet, but we will meet in the Midwest.

A couple of days ago, Bill Gates said he has a new plan to reform education. As I pointed out in a post, Bill Gates is batting 0 for 3. He dropped $2 Billion into breaking up large high schools and turning them into small schools. He started in 2000, didn’t see a big jump in test scores, and backed out in 2008. Then, having decided that the answer to high test scores was to punish teachers whose student scores didn’t go up, he pushed value-added Assessment, partnering with Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. Thousands of educators were fired and many schools were closed based on Gates’s fancy. That lasted from 2008 until now, and it has been written into state law in many states, although it has distorted the purpose of education and created massive demoralization among teachers and a national teacher shortage. Then he funded the Common Core, in its entirety. It is his pedagogical Frankenstein, his personal belief that education should be completely standardized, from standards to curriculum to teacher education to teacher evaluation. Speaking to the National Board for Certified Teachers a few years ago, he praised standardization and talked about the beauty of standard electrical plugs. No matter where you live, you can plug in an appliance and it works! Clearly, that was his metaphor for education. What did he spend on the creation and promotion of the Common Core? No one knows for sure, but estimates range from $200 Million to $2 Billion.

There is one other massive Gates failure that I forgot to mention: inBloom. This was a $100million investment in data mining of students’ personally identifiable data. Several states and districts agreed to turn their data over to inBloom, which wipould use the data as its owners chose. Parents got wind of this and launched a campaign to stop in loom. Led by Leonie Haimson of New York and Rachel Stickland of Colorado, parents besieged their legislators, and one by one, the state’s and districts pulled out. InBloom collapsed.

We don’t know how much money Gates has poured into charter schools, but we imagine he must be disappointed that on average they don’t produce higher scores than the public schools he disdains. He bundled millions for a referendum in Washington State to allow charter schools, the fourth such referendum. Despite Gates’ swamping the election with money, the motion barely passed. Then the State’s highest court denied public funding to charter schools, declaring that they are not public schools because they are not governed by elected school boards. Gates and his friends tried to oust the Chief Judge when she ran for re-election, but she coasted to victory.

As you see, he is actually 0 for 5 in his determination to “reform” the nation’s public schools.

But he is not deterred by failure!

So what is the latest Gates’ idea?

Laura Chapman explains here:

“At the Meeting of the Council for Great City Schools October 19, 2017, Gates said:

“Today, I’d like to share what we have learned over the last 17 years and how those insights will change what we focus on over the next five years.”

“I think that Gates has learned very little about education in the last 17 years. He is still fixated on “the lagging performance” of our students on what he regards as “the key metrics of a quality education – math scores, English scores, international comparisons, and college completion.

“Gates wants his narrow definition of “quality education” to be accepted as if the proper doctrine for improving schools and also ensuring the “economic future and competitiveness of the United States.”

“Gates wants faster progress in raising test scores, and high school graduation rates. He seems to think that “constraints and other demands on state and local budget” actually justify his plans to “ increase high school graduation and college-readiness rates.”

“Gates takes credit for funding for the deeply flawed + Measures of Effective Teaching project (MET), claiming that it showed educators ”how to gather feedback from students on their engagement and classroom learning experiences . . . and about observing teachers at their craft, assessing their performance fairly, and providing actionable feedback.” The $64 million project in 2007 tried to make it legitimate for teachers to be judged by “multiple measures” including the discredited VAM, and dubious Danielson teacher observation protocol Gates learned nothing from that micromanaging effort.

“Gates funded and promoted the Common Core. He says: “Teachers need better curricula and professional development aligned with the Common Core.”He remains committed to the ideas that “teacher evaluations and ratings” are useful ways “to improve instruction,” He thinks “data-driven continuous learning and evidence-based interventions,” will improve student achievement. This jargon is meaningless.

“Gates said: Overall, we expect to invest close to $1.7 billion in US public education over the next five years.“…“We anticipate that about 60 percent of this will eventually support the development of new curricula and networks of schools that work together to identify local problems and solutions . . . and use data to drive continuous improvement.

“Don’t be deceived by the “public education” comment. Gates wants to control public schools by dismantling their governance by and for the public. By “networks of schools” Gates means “innovation districts” where persons employed by private interests can control educational policy under the banner of “collaboration” or “partnership.”

“Gates offers several examples of networks. One is CORE, a so-called “partnership” of eight large urban school districts in California: Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Ana,

“CORE stands for “California Office for Reform in Education CORE a non-governmental organization, based in San Francisco, funded by the Stuart Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation (Stephen Bechtel Fund); and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here are some other things you should know about CORE.

“CORE was created in order to bypass the California State Board of Education and Race to the Top accountability, by marketing its new “School Quality Improvement Index.” This index includes social-emotional learning and school climate indicators in addition to California requirements—test scores, graduation rates, and the like.
Participating CORE Districts are bound to the terms of a memorandum of understanding, signed only by each district superintendent. This MOU specifies that the district will use: CORE-approved school improvement ratings based on existing and new indicators, a CORE-approved teacher and principal evaluation process with professional development plans, CORE-specific teacher and principal hiring and retention policies with cross-district sharing data—including results from teacher/student/parent surveys of school climate and student self-assessments of their social-emotional skills.

“The final rating for each school in a CORE district is a complex web of weightings and transformations of scores into performance and growth measures: 40% of the overall rating for school climate/social emotional indicators and 60% for academics.

“An autonomous “School Quality Oversight Panel” nullifies oversight of these districts by the State Board of Education. This “oversight” panel has CORE supporters recruited from The Association of California School Administrators, and California School Boards Association, California State PTA. The main monitors/promoters of this scheme are actually two panel members: Ed Trust West and the Policy Analysis for California Education. Bot of these organizations are sustained in large measure by private funding.

“Ed Trust West is funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, State Farm Companies, and these foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates, Joyce, Kresge, Lumina, Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family. The Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is based at Stanford University, with participation by the University of California – Berkeley, and the University of Southern California. PACE is a conduit for grants from USDE and from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation; Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; and The Walter S. Johnson Foundation.

“School ratings developed by the CORE Districts flow directly to —a marketing site for schools and education products. is funded by the Gates, Walton, Robertson, and Arnold Foundations. Add the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Bradley Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, New Schools Venture Fund. and 15 other foundations.“ in a non-profit in name only. sells data from all states and districts. For a fee, it will push users of the website to particular schools. Buyers of the data include Zillow and Scholastic.

“I think that the CORE District model illustrates how the private takeover of education is happening. Policy formation and favored school practices are being determined by the wealth and the peculiar visions non governmental groups with deep pockets. In the CORE Districts, this work is aided and abetted by superintendents who are eager for the money and the illusion of prestige that comes from permitting private funders to determine educational policies and practices.

“Gates’ speech to members of the Council of the Great City Schools also includes the example of Tennessee’s LIFT Education as a “network” that is worth replicating.

“LIFT Education enlists educators from 12 rural and urban districts across the state to promote the Common Core agenda and Teach for America practices. Participants in LIFT Education are convened by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education —SCORE. The SCORE website says participants in LIFT have spent the last year and a half collaborating on high-quality early literacy instruction, focusing on building knowledge and vocabulary by piloting knowledge-rich read-alouds in early grades.

“The LIFT/SCORE alliance provides a governance structure for insisting that teachers follow the Gates-funded Common Core. Teachers are given an instructional practice guide that is also a teacher evaluation rubric from Student Achievement Partner, authors of the Common Core.

“This LIFT/SCORE non-governmental network is the result of private wealth channeled to superintendents who have outsourced the “coaching” and compliance monitoring for the Common Core literacy project to the Brooklyn-based The New Teachers Project (TNTP). In effect, TFA coaching and systems of data-gathering are present in all of the LIFT/SCORE districts.

“SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education has been funded since 2010 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so far $10,623,497 including multiple years for operating support. Add a 2012 grant to SCORE as sponsor of a Chiefs for Change Policy Forum for district leaders so they would be “ambassadors for education reform.” The bait for the LIFT/SCORE network thus came from Chiefs for Change–Jeb Bush’s baby, unfriendly to public education.

“Gates says: “Over the next several years, we will support about 30 of these networks (e.g.., CORE, LIFT) and will start initially with high needs schools and districts in 6 to 8 states. Each network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching, and data collection and analysis.””

“Our goal is to work with the field to ensure that five years from now, teachers at every grade level in secondary schools have access to high-quality, aligned curriculum choices in English and math, as well as science curricula based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”

“What else is in the works from the many who would be king of American education?

“We expect that about 25 percent of our funding in the next five years will focus on big bets – innovations with the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.” What does Gates means by “big bets?” He expects to command the expertise and R&D to change the “trajectory” of education. He will fund translations of “developments in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics” in addition to “technology-enabled” approaches in education.

“There is money left for more.

“We anticipate that the final 15 percent of our funding in the next five years will go to the charter sector. We will continue to help high-performing charters expand to serve more students. But our emphasis will be on efforts that improve outcomes for special needs students — especially kids with mild-to-moderate learning and behavioral disabilities.”

“This proposal sounds like Gates wants to cherry pick the students with “mild to moderate learning and behavioral disabilities,” send them to Gates-funded charter schools to bring their scores up, then claim success where everyone else has failed. This same strategy is being used in “pay-for performance” preschools. Gates sounds like he expects to have a free-hand in ignoring the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Evidently he wants the “flexibility” to ignore IDEA that he believes to be present in charter schools.

“Bill Gates is still fixated on the idea that his money and clout can and will attract other foundations and private investors. He still holds on to the mistaken idea that “what works” in one community or state can be “scaled up,” and REPLICATED, elsewhere. He is ignorant of the history of education and efforts to replicate programs. He is trapped in an industrial one-size-fits-all model of education.

“Gates ends with this: “Our role is to serve as a catalyst of good ideas, driven by the same guiding principle we started with: all students – but especially low-income students and students of color – must have equal access to a great public education that prepares them for adulthood. We will not stop until this has been achieved, and we look forward to continued partnership with you in this work in the years to come.”

“Beware of billionaires who want to partner with you.

“Gates still seems to think that students, especially low income students, can and will be successful if they have “ equal access to a great public education.” He remains ignorant of the abundant research that shows schools alone are not responsible for, or solutions to, institutionalized segregation and poverty–the main causes of serious disadvantage among low-income students and students of color.

“Gates has grandiose plans. All are focused on privatizing education and selling that snake oil as if it is authentic support for public education.“

After two high-profile failures that he acknowledges, and one high-profile failure that he does not acknowledge, Bill Gates is ready to start reforming the schools of America again.

Valerie Strauss reports on his announcement here.

He jumped into school reform in 2000 with his plan to break up the nation’s high schools into small schools. He promised dramatic test score gains. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but it did not get the score gains he wanted, and he gathered the creme de la creme to his digs in Seattle in 2008 to announce that he was abandoning small schools. Valerie says he dumped $650 Million into that, but my own Research says it was $2 Billion.

His next obsession was evaluating teachers by the test scores of their teachers. He partnered with Arne Duncan on that; Arne made it a condition of Race to the Top funding. The ratings were criticized by the American Statistical Association, the National Academy of Education, AERA, and many individual scholars. But Duncan and Gates plowed ahead. The Los Angeles Times and the New York Post published the ratings of individual teachers. Duncan congratulated them for doing so. A teacher in Los Angeles committed suicide after his ratings were published. Gates gave out hundreds of millions to districts that adopted his evaluations. Hillsborough County, Florida, won $100 Million to apply Gates’ ideas about teaching, and the district exhausted its reserves and abandoned the plan. Gates paid up only $80 Million, and the district was left holding the bag.

Now Gates has given up on that idea, although many states are still sticking with it. Thousands of teachers and principals have been fired based on the ideas sold by Gates and Duncan, but that’s not of any interest to him.

The failure that Gates does not yet admit is the Common Core. He paid hundreds of millions for its development and promotion, and he still loves the idea of standardizing education. He refuses to accept that it’s dead man walking.

So what’s his new idea? I’m not really sure, so I will quote Valerie. My hunch is that he is still pushing Common Core, but it is not clear.

He said 85% of the money will go to public schools and the rest to charter schools. Knowing that Gates is a charter zealot, one must wonder what medicine (or poison) he is offering.

“He said most of the new money — about 60 percent — will be used to develop new curriculums and “networks of schools” that work together to identify local problems and solutions, using data to drive “continuous improvement.” He said that over the next several years, about 30 such networks would be supported, though he didn’t describe exactly what they are. The first grants will go to high-needs schools and districts in six to eight states, which went unnamed.

“Though there wasn’t a lot of detail on exactly how the money would be spent, Gates, a believer in using big data to solve problems, repeatedly said foundation grants given to schools as part of this new effort would be driven by data. “Each [school] network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching and data collection and analysis,” he said, an emphasis that is bound to worry critics already concerned about the amount of student data already collected and the way it is used for high-stakes decisions.”

What is he up to? Big data? Common Core? Data mining?

I have often said and written that if he really wanted to help children, he would open health clinics in their schools. He would provide doctors to supply good maternal care to pregnant women. He would not tell teachers how to teach or get involved in evaluating teachers or writing curriculum. He would stop pretending he knows how to reform education and do something that is actually needed.

After 17 years of failure, has he learned nothing?

A letter from Leonie Haimson, leader of Student Privacy Matters and Class Size Matters (I am a board member).

Dear folks:

This Tuesday October 3 at 8 PM EST, Class Size Matters is co- sponsoring a free webinar with the Parent Coalition and NYS Allies for Public Education on what practical steps parents can take to safeguard their children’s data from breach or abuse.

Our webinar will cover the following topics:

1. How to opt out of directory information sharing — and why;
2. What common practices in schools violate student privacy & federal law;
3. Practical tips for protecting your child’s privacy;
4. Questions to ask your teacher or principal about apps and other technology used in the classroom.

Registration is required so please sign up today!

According to federal law, at the beginning of each year, school districts are supposed to inform parents of their children’s privacy rights under the federal law called FERPA, including their right to opt out at the beginning of the year from allowing the district to disclose their child’s directory information, including name, address and other details, with various organizations or vendors that do NOT provide services to schools.

Yet in NYC and in many other districts, we have discovered that that parents have not been informed of these rights. To make things worse, NYC DOE voluntarily shares the directory information of students with charter schools for recruiting and marketing purposes.

If you are concerned about this issue, and/or have other concerns and questions about how best to safeguard your child’s privacy, please join our webinar. Whether or not you can attend, you should also check out our Parent Toolkit with more information about this issue and much more. More on the directory information issue, including a sample opt out form as a pdf or in word that you can fill out and submit to your school is here.

Hope you can join us on Tuesday and thanks!
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

Make a tax-deductible contribution to Class Size Matters now!

Emily Talmage warns that data mining is happening 24/7, whenever children (or adults) go online, at school or at home.

On Monday, the FBI published a public service announcement alerting parents that “smart toys” and entertainment devices for kids may be collecting vast amounts of data about their children.

“The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety,” the notice warns.

Major news outlets across the country are now sounding the alarm, encouraging parents to research privacy agreements and to find out who has access to their children’s data.

Despite the sudden and urgent concern for children’s privacy, however, the reports have thus far ignored the biggest elephant in the room…

the fact that massive data collection is happening in our schools every single day.

As school districts across the country implement one-to-one digital device initiatives, school testing policies shift to include ongoing “formative” assessments, and data collection expands beyond academics to include highly sensitive psycho-social information, data collection in schools is at an all time high.

This is an important article about the Silicon Valley billionaires who want to remake America’s schools, although none has any deep knowledge of children or cognition or the multiple social issues that affect children and families. Being tech entrepreneurs, most of them think there is a technological fix for every problem.

The article focuses on several billionaires and what they aim to achieve.

The writer, Natasha Singer, is careful to add red flags where necessary and seek out evaluations. She also is alert to the possibility that the tech entrepreneurs are building their portfolios and enriching themselves. And she points out that much of what they are doing challenges democracy itself in the absence of public debate and understanding.

She writes:

“In the space of just a few years, technology giants have begun remaking the very nature of schooling on a vast scale, using some of the same techniques that have made their companies linchpins of the American economy. Through their philanthropy, they are influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental approaches to learning….

“The involvement by some of the wealthiest and most influential titans of the 21st century amounts to a singular experiment in education, with millions of students serving as de facto beta testers for their ideas. Some tech leaders believe that applying an engineering mind-set can improve just about any system, and that their business acumen qualifies them to rethink American education…

“Tech companies and their founders have been rolling out programs in America’s public schools with relatively few checks and balances, The New York Times found in interviews with more than 100 company executives, government officials, school administrators, researchers, teachers, parents and students.

“They have the power to change policy, but no corresponding check on that power,” said Megan Tompkins-Stange, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. “It does subvert the democratic process.”

Furthermore, there is only limited research into whether the tech giants’ programs have actually improved students’ educational results….

“Mr. Hastings of Netflix and other tech executives rejected the idea that they wielded significant influence in education. The mere fact that classroom internet access has improved, Mr. Hastings said, has had a much greater impact in schools than anything tech philanthropists have done.”

Hastings’ Dreambox software depends on constant data-mining:

“DreamBox Learning tracks a student’s every click, correct answer, hesitation and error — collecting about 50,000 data points per student per hour — and uses those details to adjust the math lessons it shows. And it uses data to help teachers pinpoint which math concepts students may be struggling with.”

This is the same Reed Hastings who just spent $5 million helping charter entrepreneurs gain control of the Los Angeles school board.

“Another difference: Some tech moguls are taking a hands-on role in nearly every step of the education supply chain by financing campaigns to alter policy, building learning apps to advance their aims and subsidizing teacher training. This end-to-end influence represents an “almost monopolistic approach to education reform,” said Larry Cuban, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University. “That is starkly different to earlier generations of philanthropists.”

“These efforts coincide with a larger Silicon Valley push to sell computers and software to American schools, a lucrative market projected to reach $21 billion by 2020. Already, more than half of the primary- and secondary-school students in the United States use Google services like Gmail in school.”

Singer goes through each of the entrepreneurs’ programs. The only one that impressed me was the program in San Francisco that created a Pricipals’ Innovation Fund, “which awards annual unrestricted grants of $100,000 to the principal at each of the district’s 21 middle and K-8 schools.” The key word here is unrestricted.

Mark Zuckerberg’s dream is to sell his digitized approach to enable children to learn via computer and use teachers as moderators. He calls this “personalized learning,” since the computer algorithm adjusts for each student. Singer’s subtitle for Zuckerberg’s dream is: “Student, Teach Thyself.”

““Our hope over the next decade is to help upgrade a majority of these schools to personalized learning and then start working globally as well,” Mr. Zuckerberg told the audience. “Giving a billion students a personalized education is a great thing to do.”

Please, Natasha Singer, do a follow-up that explains that learning from a machine is depersonalized learning.

Leonie Haimson and Rachael Stickland of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy created a toolkit for parents to defend against the invasion of children’s privacy by commercial and governmental interests. The toolkit was devised in collaboration with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Haimson and Stickland explain why they developed the free toolkit and why parents should use it.

They write:

“Despite a clear desire among many parents to protect their children’s sensitive data, few resources exist to help them navigate the confusing patchwork of laws and regulations that govern student privacy. Most guidance is aimed at schools and districts, not parents, and what has been produced is often filled with legal and technical jargon. To compound the problem, most widely available student privacy resources are often written by organizations funded or supported by the growing ed-tech industry and who advocate for increased data sharing rather than reducing it.

“In fact, millions of student data points are currently soaked up every day by schools or their vendors and shared with third parties, including for-profit companies, government agencies, and researchers, without parental knowledge, and with few or uncertain security protections. The personal data collected from children may include students’ names, email addresses, grades, test scores, disability status and health records, suspension and discipline data, country of birth, family background, and more. Other digital data collected may include internet search history, videos watched, survey questions, lunch items purchased, heart rate and other biometric information measured during gym class, and even classroom behavior, such as being off-task or speaking out of turn.

“This information, whether collected by schools directly or by contractors supplying online learning platforms, classroom applications and websites, are often merged together and analyzed via algorithms to profile a student’s skills, strengths, abilities and interests, and to predict future outcomes. How this sensitive data may be used, with whom it can be shared, and how it can be protected are questions on many parents’ minds. Finding answers can be hard; schools often find themselves caught in the middle.”

They developed the parent toolkit to help parents protect their children.

“Our toolkit, available on the PCSP [Parent Coalition for Student Privacy] website, offers clear guidance about what student privacy rights exist under federal laws and what steps parents can take to ensure these laws are enforced, suggests questions they can ask to learn more about their schools’ data policies, and recommends best practices that parents can urge their school and district officials adopt, all with the goal of protecting and securing this data. We also suggest tips that parents can use at home and sample opt out forms to minimize the risk that their children’s privacy will be breached or abused.”

They include a link to the toolkit.

This is an article in The Guardian that I will not attempt to summarize. What I will Di is urge you to read it. It is about money, power, and a coordinated attack on democracy. It is about data mining psychological warfare financed by a billionaire and used to win elections. It is about the use of technology to subvert democracy and empower a new, far-right elite.