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Thanks to the ever expanding NSA scandal the American people are getting a crash course in how important and revealing even small amounts of personal information can be. Your data matters, has value, and should be protected from those you don’t want to have it or haven’t consented to have it yet.

Enter the private sector and the various public-private partnerships to data mine the population. One recently in the news is AT&T’s collaboration with the CIA for for records of communications, including financial transactions, of suspected terrorists overseas. Who constitutes a “suspected terrorist”? It’s anyone’s guess.

And now the education privatization movement aka “Ed reform” is looking to use spy technology on students. Of course they would only use the data to assist instruction never to sell products and services, that’s not what for-profit schools would do – would they?

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes that there is “power” in data for “school reform”. Indeed there is. The issue isn’t whether there is “power” in data collection and storage, and its potential sharing. There certainly is power. That is precisely why the public is wary of the federal push to develop statewide, longitudinal data systems.

The question is whether state and federal governments (and the privatizing interests nurtured by state and federal governments) should have control of over 400 data points per student.

In the webinar titled “Student Privacy: Lost in the Cloud?” – sponsored by Cisco Systems  – assures those concerned with data security that there is nothing to fear in allowing all this data to go to private companies and even hits the familiar ed deformer tone of divide and conquer. First the privatizers pitted parents against teachers, but now it they pitting parents against tech companies promoting the Common Core products.

As the description of the webinar reads:

As more school districts share data with parents and teachers, privacy advocates warn that they run the risk of violating students’ privacy. How valid are such concerns? Should parental rights trump educators’ efforts to track students? What should the federal role be?

Parent’s rights? What about the students who are having their entire educational life shared with anyone who can pay for it? And yes, maybe a parent would be rightly concerned that a private company sucks up all their personal information. Especially if you combine that data with the information from companies that schools pay to monitor their students social media activity – which is then sent to the school. “That’s going on your permanent record” is no joke now.

Oh and I would be remiss to not mention that the drill and kill testing metrics and tracking those metrics has consistently failed to provide a better education. Standardized tests are notorious for being poor indicators of educational attainment. So all these students are having their educational and personal information collected and archived for little to no educational value.

Of course for those companies with access to the information the value is quite high – that have digital gold that can be sold to numerous other companies whom want customers for their products and services. Talk about a solid sales lead, it’s a total information awareness file on someone from their early years in education and social media activity.

Why is this a good idea again?

Photo from the Library of Congress under public domain.