As the Florida Department of Education, Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush and key Florida legislators move forward to implement Common Core State Standards in the sunshine state a database in Long Island’s Sachem School District is compromised.
Nancy Smith from Sunshine State News reports, “On Long Island earlier this month a hacker apparently was able to access records in the Sachem School District and leak personal student data to a web forum. The records included medical and disciplinary reports.” According to The Journal News, in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam counties, N.Y., the database uploads to Web Cloud run by inBloom, a nonprofit group funded by the Gates Foundation and supported by Amazon.
“Surprisingly, the breach didn’t come as a great shock to the community. Even before it transpired, parents and teachers were concerned about data collection and the potential of sharing it or stealing it,” writes Smith. Also reported in The Journal News, “More than 20 districts in the Lower Hudson Valley have pulled out of New York’s participation in the federal Race to the Top initiative, hoping that doing so will allow them to withhold certain data. Since the state has said that this strategy will not work, districts are now writing to inBloom directly and requesting that their student records be deleted.”
Governor Scott has raised concerns about the data mining portion of Common Core but has not supported legislation to either delay or stop its implementation in Florida. Florida Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-FL District 54) has introduced HB 25 to delay implementation until the costs and impact of Common Core can be determined.
Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and a co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and Randy Osborne, Director of Education for Heartland Research and the Florida Eagle Forum, did a Policy Analysis of Common Core in Florida. Effrem and Osborne state, “The Common Core standards, along with the aligned curriculum and the mining of nearly 400 data points reveal that the goal of the standards is not simply to improve academic achievement but also to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs. According to the US Department of Education, this will be carefully regulated through the extensive data-mining of both students and teachers using devices such as ‘facial expression cameras,’ ‘posture analysis seats,’ ‘a pressure mouse,’ and ‘wireless skin conductance sensors’ as well as the use of the actual assessments. The federal government asserts that to secure their definition of improving the quality of education, a student’s right to privacy may be sacrificed.”
Commenting on the Sachem School District data compromise Effrem states, “A number of standards will be used for the psychological training of children starting at a young age … One of the main goals for uniform national assessments is for the federal government to have access to highly personal individual student data. It isn’t just teachers and school officials who can request and get students’ records. It’s also ‘a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions … Common Core completely strips the child of privacy.”
Dr. Effrem writes, “The utter failure of proponents of Common Core to make rational arguments about this imposed system of inferior, psychosocial workforce training standards, national tests and data collection has stimulated them to lash out to mock and marginalize anyone who opposes it. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined former Governor Jeb Bush and Senate President Don Gaetz in now bipartisan sneering derision of parental and citizen concerns. Duncan created a firestorm on Friday (11/15) with his mocking, racist attack on mothers that oppose Common Core: ‘It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.'” Duncan has since issued an apology for his remarks.
A new Facebook group, Moms Against Duncan (MAD), has almost 1600 members since then and the comments on Twitter have been overwhelmingly critical. Conservative columnists and liberal moms have joined together in righteous anger against these thoughtless remarks.
History tells us the larger the Common Core database becomes the more likely it will be target by those who would do children harm. Will Governor Scott and the proponents of Common Core listen to moms and take heed? Time will tell.
Comments on the Psychological and Developmental Aspects of the Florida’s Common Core Standards by Dr. Karen Effrem – Download PDF
Comments on Florida ELA Common Core Standards by Dr. Sandra Stotsky – Download PDF