Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

January 6, 2014

CONFER: Big Brother in the classroom

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It so happens that New York won one of the aforementioned federal grants and is the only state of the 24 that did that is following through on total implementation of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System. That said, this year, and in the coming years, will New York’s children be subjected to surveys asking for some or all of this highly specific and highly private information?

If they are, will our kids be tagged as “troubled” students for matters entirely unrelated to public education? Will those factors, once identified and categorized, be used as cues to encourage home visitation and/or intervention by Child Protective Services and other government agencies? And will those same identifiers dog our kids for the rest of their lives?

Based upon the above list, one can easily see students and their families targeted for any of the following: non-standard political beliefs (such as libertarianism); a parent who is coping with mental illness (even something as common and treatable as depression); disagreements with the concept of same-sex relationships; exhibiting once-normal behavioral traits now deemed to be anti-social (such as playful kidding now classified as vicious bullying); maintaining friendly relationships with reformed individuals who paid their dues to society; regular utilization of the services of medical doctors; regularly attending church services; and family income (“too low” or “too high”).

The possibilities for abuse of this data are endless. It could be done in the classroom (by a maverick teacher with a personal agenda), at the district level (by one trying to improve its statistical outcomes by sequestering alleged troubled youths), and well into the future. These corrupted records would follow the youth into the SUNY/CUNY system (affecting their eligibility and/or studies) and could likely be made readily available in their pursuit of gainful employment.

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