Critics of Common Core are suggesting that the standards may be putting a little more information on students’ permanent records than they realize.
Parents in Pennsylvania has written to Governor Tom Corbett to complain about the personal and sensitive information that is being collected, suggesting the information is part of a federal database keeping tabs on every child. Across the country, educational activists are suggesting the campaign is meant to help create a uniform, national standard for math and English.
This follows them from the cradle to the grave,” said Tracy Ramey, of Pennsylvanians against Common Core. Her group, along with Pennsylvanians Restoring Education, recently wrote Corbett to demand the shutdown of the state’s Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS) in all 500 school districts.
“What’s alarming is what they are doing with the data,” Ramey said.
Originally created by the Department of Labor and referred to by critics as the “womb to workplace” information system, the database contains information about every US citizen under the age of 26. Most information is obtained while individuals are in school, including personal information as well as personality traits, behavior patterns and even fingerprints.
Activist groups in the state say while there may be a need for individual school districts to collect information, there is a danger involved when states or the federal government begin to collect that information. They feel that doing so is a violation of privacy, as well as a civil rights violation when that information is used as a “decision making model.”
However, Pennsylvania Department of Education officials say that point of view is wrong, claiming that Pennsylvania is not taking part in any sort of data collection.
“It’s possible that school districts are collecting data but not probable,” said Tim Eller, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, adding that the DOE has no outside contracts either.
According to Eller, information collected for school safety data does not include any individual names. Information is collected solely for the purpose of creating a safe school environment.
Meanwhile, school districts in Nebraska are introducing students to new software for their lunch program, which works by scanning a students’ fingerprint. However, school officials maintain that the system creates a template from the fingerprint without retaining an image of the fingerprint itself. The template is converted to a binary number and cannot be used by law enforcement agencies.
The goal of the program is to increase security for student accounts, which are no longer linked to an ID card that can easily be lost or stolen, decrease clerical errors, offer students easy access to their accounts, as well as provide some anonymity for those students who participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program.
Similar systems are in use in doctors’ offices and other businesses.