N.Y. School Officials Turn Down Race to the Top Grant in Order to Protect Student Privacy

Oct 29, 2013 by

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – The Pleasantville Union Free School District has a message for the Obama administration about its Race to the Top grant: Thanks, but no thanks. It’s not worth sacrificing student privacy.

The Pleasantville Patch reports the school board voted last week to return $6,000 in federal funds “that would require Pleasantville to ‘comply with a number of New York State requirements, including participation in an electronic data portal – a data dashboard,’ according to a statement from the schools.”

The district’s statement notes that the data portal – as required by the New York State Education Department – collects “personally identifiable information such as discipline flags, immunization shots, attendance, and more (that) could violate students’ privacy rights.”

The data portal has the “potential to collect over 400 data elements that have been identified in the State Education Department’s data template dictionary,” according to the Pleasantville school board’s statement.

Schools Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter told the Pleasantville Patch the district doesn’t need the state’s “data dashboard,” as the school system already collects and stores the student information it needs in its own password-protected database.

Fox-Alter added the state’s data portal might allow K-12 technology corporations to collect – and profit from – sensitive student data they need in order to develop personalized learning software.

“The potential for data-mining is staggering,” Fox-Alter told the news site.

Fox-Alter said the board’s resolution was meant to get New York education leaders “to stop and reflect” on their data-collecting spree, which is set to take effect this school year.

Seven other area school systems have taken similar measures to protect their students’ privacy, she added.

Parents, taxpayers and civil rights advocates all across the U.S. share those concerns. They believe the new Common Core learning standards are designed to work hand-in-glove with these state-run (but federally paid for) databases that track each student’s personal growth from prekindergarten through college and beyond.

These concerned citizens believe the new, nationalized learning standards are meant to get America’s K-12 students all studying the same concepts at the same time. That will produce apples-to-apples data that can then be used by D.C. bureaucrats, state education officials and wealthy K-12 technology corporations to “track” students’ progress and address learning difficulties by “personalizing” the learning process.

The still-unfolding National Security Agency scandal has illustrated for many Americans the perils of allowing government officials to collect reams of data on citizens. Responsible school officials, like the ones in Pleasantville, New York, understand this kind of data gathering – no matter how well-intentioned – could be far more damaging for our innocent school children than any of the potential benefits.

N.Y. school officials turn down Race to the Top grant in order to protect student privacy – EAGnews.org powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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