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Common Core wrongly tied to data project

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The Common Core standards in reading and math in Kansas do not require states to collect massive amounts of personal data on every student. Nor is the Kansas State Department of Education taking part in any new national or international data mining system.

At least that's the assurance from Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker, who says she is puzzled about where those reports are coming from.

"There is no further data gathering because of Common Core," DeBacker said during a break in Tuesday's State Board of Education meeting, when scores of people lined up to advocate for and against approval of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

That's not to say Kansas doesn't collect data on students. It does and it's been doing so for many years, largely at the insistence of state and federal lawmakers who want the data to hold schools accountable for improving student performance and closing achievement gaps.

"We gather about 86 data points that any parent would expect if their student is enrolled in public school," DeBacker said, "from their name, their ethnicity, their race, their grade level and then, of course, their achievement as they move through our system."

And the only financial information the state gathers is whether the student receives free or reduced-price meals, DeBacker said, because that's the only indicator they have about a student's socio-economic status.

"That's the only time when income is asked because they have to qualify for that," she said.

But that's a hard message to sell to those who've been showing up at state board meetings the last two months, criticizing Common Core as a giant federal intrusion, not only into state education policy, but also into the private lives of every American.

The extent of their fear was evident in the comments of Barbara Penn of Lenexa, who identified herself as "a public school educator for about 24 years" in Kansas.

"I don't need to know (my students') political affiliation," she said. "I don't need to know their religious affiliation. I don't need to know their blood type. These things don't help me be a better educator."

"I'm concerned with the data mining that's going on," she continued. "I'm concerned about privacy. I never thought that growing up in this country that the issues we're having with the IRS now would come about. They have information. OK, what's happening to the information being collected on our children, our grandchildren, our nieces, our nephews? Why does this need to follow them?"

Penn wasn't the only one to conflate the alleged data-gathering under Common Core, which isn't actually happening, with other recent controversies involving federal agencies.

The original J-W story about the state board meeting, quoted freshman Republican Rep. Allan Rothlisberg of Geary County as saying, "We've seen in the news lately, obviously with the IRS, spying on us. Why on earth would we expect the Department of Education — which is not constitutionally authorized, as previously said — to look out for our children?"

Theories about a data-mining operation being a requirement under Common Core are rampant in the blogosphere. A simple Google search using the terms "Common Core" and "data collection" pulls up a treasure trove of such sites.

One website dedicated specifically to opposing Common Core has multiple articles linking the data collection system to the IRS and NSA scandals.

Another called the Daily Herald website contains an essay by one Oak Norton who traces the data-mining conspiracy back to a 2004 agreement between Bill Gates and the United Nations.

"Bill Gates knew that education was a huge multibillion dollar industry and if he could be at the crest of that wave, he would make billions,"Norton writes, evidently missing the fact that, at the time, Gates was already the wealthiest man on the planet Earth.

Like many exaggerated theories, though, there is a kernel of truth behind this one.

What is happening, according to education experts, is a project by a non-profit corporation called inBloom, Inc., backed by a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to build a database which, theoretically at least, would be more accessible and user friendly than current state-based or school-based systems, allowing teachers greater access to information so they can better tailor instruction to the individual needs of each student.

That project has indeed raised privacy concerns among education professionals, notably the American Federation of Teachers. That's probably why hardly any states or individual districts so far have signed up to take part in it.

For an interesting discussion of those issues, check out this recent blog post from Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post.

But Kansas is not taking part in that project, DeBacker said.

Comments

jimmyjms 1 year, 2 months ago

"I don't need to know their blood type. "

I can think of a few reason you might want to have that info on hand.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

You can tell them and tell them that Kansas is doing any data mining, and they will still not believe it, because someone made a website, and everyone knows that if it's on the internet, it's true.

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chootspa 1 year, 2 months ago

I also heard that they were one world governing atheism and socialism as part of Common Core. So I guess the data mining is to track your conversion into the religion of Stalin as Obama intends. If you oppose him, he'll audit your taxes and then death panel you with fake Hawaiian birth certificates.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

Did you read the article above?

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pti3 1 year, 2 months ago

The recent changes in the privacy regulations FERPA open the door to widespread problems - data sharing without consent to corporations etc. The following are searches on this topic, with a couple sites that looked interesting (on different topics from the Mass ACLU - who has a fabulous website):

EPIC v. The U.S. Department of Education http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/

COMMENTS OF ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER to THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION http://epic.org/privacy/student/EPIC_FERPA_Comments.pdf

Massachusetts one of seven states to share confidential student data with private corporations http://www.privacysos.org/node/1055

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood: Protect Massachusetts Students' Privacy http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/action/massinbloom

Lawsuit charges Ed Department with violating student privacy rights http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/13/lawsuit-charges-ed-department-with-violating-student-privacy-rights/

SPECIAL REPORT: Comment on April 8, 2011 Proposed FERPA Regulations http://www.clhe.org/marketplaceofideas/data-analysis/comment-on-april-8-2011-ferpa-regulations/

Why EPIC is Suing the Department of Education –and Why They Should Win http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/who-is-suing-the-department-of-education-and-why/

DHS findings: People are insufficiently suspicious of their neighbors! http://www.privacysos.org/node/588

Mapping the human brain: we need to make sure ethical and legal questions don't get left behind http://www.privacysos.org/node/1063

Obama administration wants school teachers to snoop on their kids? http://privacysos.org/node/391

Private company hoards license plate data, plans to create database with "billions" of records http://www.privacysos.org/node/1060

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tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

For those of you who just couldn't make it to the end of the article, I've quoted it. This database was meant for good purposes, but it is being opposed even by one of those evil teacher's unions you love to hate, because it might lead to privacy issues. Most states have not signed up for the project, including Kansas. It's not required to sign up for this project to use Common Core, so your argument doesn't work. Please look at the facts, not just online opinions. That's one of the standards taught in Common Core, to be able to tell the difference between fact and opinion which is essential to critical thinking.

"What is happening, according to education experts, is a project by a non-profit corporation called inBloom, Inc., backed by a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to build a database which, theoretically at least, would be more accessible and user friendly than current state-based or school-based systems, allowing teachers greater access to information so they can better tailor instruction to the individual needs of each student.

That project has indeed raised privacy concerns among education professionals, notably the American Federation of Teachers. That's probably why hardly any states or individual districts so far have signed up to take part in it.

For an interesting discussion of those issues, check out this recent blog post from Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post.

But Kansas is not taking part in that project, DeBacker said."

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Jana Rea 1 year, 2 months ago

“Common Core wrongly tied to data project”

Really, Peter?

A question mark after this statement would at least indicate there is a discussion or a debate at hand. But when the media parrots the BOE system speak, not just subtlety dismissive but in blatant bold heading style, it is no wonder our citizens are so uninformed; at least those who limit their fact finding to a sadly inadequate perusal of local media.

I think our KU Poli-Sci intern did a more honest job of investigating after the issue failed to pass the Education Committee in the legislature.

http://dgcountygop.org/real-media/the-new-great-debate/

Reposting from the grassroots truth of the matter, with nothing to gain but a better education for our children and grandchildren:

“Thank you to everyone who made the trip to Topeka today!!! We had an amazing turnout of people, and though our chance to speak seemed to be delayed as much as possible - we were there. And we will be back. It's often said that parents need to get more involved and participate, and those who hold elected positions really care about what the citizens have to say.... it sure didn't seem like that today.

 It was also a bit strange that those who were speaking in support of the State BOE and Common Core Standards didn't seem to stay long enough to listen to our thoughts... you know, the parents, grandparents and Kansans who had taken off from work, found babysitters, juggled schedules, and paid over $3.50/gallon to drive for several hundred miles. Nope. By the time the open forum was completed, the room looked quite a bit different and there wasn't a problem finding a place to sit. 

And isn't it strange that all this happened today? Maybe in response to our showing at last month's State BOE meeting - when we had 17 citizens speak in opposition of Common Core and only 1 person (from an educational group) spoke in favor of Common Core? And after the Senate recently passed a "pause" CC bill, and the House was also close to doing so before ending this legislative session? 

It's obvious that now is not the time to quit..” Kristen George

But for the 'open minded' who only read the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/the-common-core-whos-minding-the-schools.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2

Otherwise--wise up.

Kansans Against Common Core Facebook Twitter www.kansansagainstcommoncore.wordpres...

Truth in American Education for education information... http://truthinamericaneducation.com/

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optimist 1 year, 2 months ago

Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems was mentioned in previous Journal-World articles in conjunction with Common Core. The state of Kansas has received more than $16 million in grants to implement SLDS. There have been many stories throughout the country that some of the data being collected and maintained via SLDS are alarming. I don't know if LDS initiated the collection of the questionable data or if the states did but the fact that someone thought up and enacted the collection of this type of data is should be of concern if true. Some of the data that I've seen referenced in articles included retinal scans, medical and mental health information (beyond immunizations) of children and family members, blood type, questions about the child’s home life, firearms ownership at the home and a number of other examples that I don't specifically recall from memory. The purpose of LDS is to maintain data on specific students from beginning to the end of their school years, and in some instances the stories have indicated the intent to track them into adulthood and into careers. This is very concerning to me, especially if there is any attempt to collect any of this data without the knowledge and consent of parents and guardians. I know this sounds a little paranoid but tracking specific students is a far cry from collecting less specific data such as a student’s free lunch status and comparing it to their performance. While it may sound paranoid, sometimes paranoia is more than justified. I refer you to the recent IRS and Verizon spying scandals.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

I suppose you would, but what if you found out that children of divorced couples have more troubles in school? How would you know this if you didn't collect the data? And how would you know if the struggles only lasted for a short time during a divorce, but the student rebounded, with the right kind of help, after things settled down. Schools are being pressured to make sure that all students succeed, despite the outside influences that can lead to their failure. The parents don't get blamed, the ghetto conditions they live in don't get blamed, the "celebrity obsessed" society we live in doesn't get blamed - the school gets blamed. So they want to research what the outside factors in a child's life are, so they can determine what helps individual students who have these other things to deal with. For instance, if it turns out that a child of divorce gets behind, but is emotionally ready to learn later, what could be done to catch the student up, so they don't fall further behind. Either stop blaming the schools, and put pressure on society, or let the educator try and figure out what to do. By the way, you should get off the internet if you really want your privacy.

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seriouscat 1 year, 2 months ago

There are numerous valid concerns over common core. It seems that the media has invoked the power of negative associate to steer people away from investigating or speaking out, just like in the above column.

"if you questions common core you are agreeing with the Tea Party!"....

"if you have a problem with common core you are a Luddite!"...

"only ignorant, paranoid right-wingers raise a stink about government involvement in education!"

etc etc etc.

Read and learn:

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/zinger-letter-to-state-school-board-members/

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chootspa 1 year, 2 months ago

There are legitimate concerns with common core. Unfortunately, they've been buried in a landfill sized pile of conspiracy nuttery and anti science rantings. If you wanted to have more of an emphasis on fiction writing in the English curriculum, for instance, that's something that could be addressed without crying about federal imposition NSA spying one world conspiracy oh noez. If you want more rigorous science standards, that can be better addressed without crying about climate change evolution dogs and cats living together. The argument for local control of science standards also fails for those of us who have seen members of the BOE argue, with a straight face, that evolution is a religious teaching.

Also ironic? Calling for local control and pointing to a website created Utahns. Why that particular website? It is by far, the least silly of any of the anti CC websites I've seen posted to date. Try getting a few Kansans who are that credible and making a local website instead of relying on a state collaboration of parents and educators who are aligned for the common good of the ... oh, you see what I did there?

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jsos 1 year, 2 months ago

Common Core Standards are "dumbing" down our children's education. We have had this before under NCLB and it is continueing. The unfortunate part of it is that your Commissioner of Education is distorting the facts and deceiving the public. If you read the following article by Bob Weeks published today in the Voice for Liberty, Wichita, KS, I think you will become a believer. You can read about it at the following link:

http://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-kansas-schools/kansas-has-lowered-its-school-standards/?utm_source=2013-06-14+news&utm_campaign=Constant+Contact&utm_medium=email

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jhawkmamax2 1 year, 2 months ago

Those who think that the curriculum isn't already stifling creativity have never watched students study the same set of indicators for weeks on end so they can correctly choose A, B, C, or D, rather than explain how to apply a concept to a problem. There are always exceptions, and some schools don't over-focus on taking and passing a multiple-choice test (notice I didn't say excelling, because you can meet standards with as low as a 63 percent-- see the cut scores: http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=2377). But in some schools, new learning in math seems to stop when the second semester begins, and math time is spent drilling for assessments rather than advancing the curriculum.

The system is broken. Common Core may not be the best or the only answer, but it is research-based and data-driven. Educators developed it, not politicians. Educate yourself. Get involved with your local school and see how Common Core will change the way they teach our children. THEN come and criticize if you think it is warranted.

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chootspa 1 year, 2 months ago

I wonder what the data collection methods of common core have to say about using sock puppets in the curriculum?

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Centerville 1 year, 2 months ago

In other words, although DeBacker admits to 86 data points, he only can list about 5 of them. Parents are allowed to opt-put of the data mining - let's see how they're treated when they do. After all, we all need to be good little drones and move along - in an orderly, quiet file. No questions allowed. Get it?

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chootspa 1 year, 2 months ago

If your reaction to common core is to stop having children, I think we all approve of this plan.

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Centerville 1 year, 2 months ago

"The purpose of LDS is to maintain data on specific students from beginning to the end of their school years, and in some instances the stories have indicated the intent to track them into adulthood and into careers." People who have no religion but the state just love that cradle-to-grave planning by their 'betters'. They've become so demoralized that they are afraid of taking any responsibility for themselves or their own children. So, when invasive data collection comes along, they look at it with relief. Repeat, good parents can opt out of their children having to complete the questionnaire.

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