Malkin’s Right: Silicon Valley’s-Beltway Ed Data Mining Has Been Ignored

Photo credit: Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Writing for National Review, Michelle Malkin points out the gaping hole in Senators’ questioning of boy billionaire Mark Zuckerberg last week. The politicians vented their outrage about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, censorship of conservative content, etc., but “not a peep was heard about the Silicon Valley-Beltway theft ring purloining the personal information and browsing habits of millions of American schoolchildren.”

Few if any members of Congress, of either party, seem concerned about what Facebook and the other tech companies are doing to the nation’s children in public schools – with the active complicity of the federal government. From Malkin:

Facebook is just one of the tech giants partnering with the U.S Department of Education [USED] and schools nationwide in pursuit of student data for meddling and profit. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Pearson, Knewton, and many more are cashing in on the Big Data boondoggle. State and federal educational databases provide countless opportunities for private companies exploiting public schoolchildren subjected to annual assessments, which exploded after adoption of the tech-industry-supported Common Core “standards,” tests, and aligned texts and curricula.

Malkin recites the sorry litany of tech-based threats to our students and their privacy: the workforce-development model of education that uses student data to align kids’ learning (or rather training) to “skills” and “competencies” desired by politically connected corporations; Facebook’s partnership with USED in the federal Digital Promise program to grant adult students “microcredentials” that will benefit, coincidentally, Facebook; Facebook’s Messenger Kids app designed to hook young children on the technology; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which seeks to “personalize” each child’s training experience by using reams of his most highly personal psycho-social data; and the scam of “free” education products that allow companies such as Google to build brand loyalty, use teachers as marketing representatives, and relentlessly compile highly personal data on each student, beginning at the toddler level, for the benefit of the companies and the government’s longitudinal data systems.

And Malkin identifies an aspect of the most recent fed-ed bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that should shame all the “conservative” members of Congress who voted for it: 

The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act enshrined Government collection of personally identifiable information including data collected on attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions – and allows release of the data to third-party contractors thanks to Obama-era loopholes carved into the Family Education (sic) Rights and Privacy Act.

Malkin didn’t uncover all this information by breaking a code or surreptitiously reviewing classified documents. Instead, she simply listened to what parent activists have publicized widely for years now. Those activists have sent the same information to members of Congress, repeatedly and relentlessly, and begged them to pay attention. 

Will anyone in Congress – and in the Trump administration — take notice?

Jane Robbins is a senior fellow with the American Principles Project. She is a graduate of Clemson University and the Harvard Law School. Emmett McGroarty is Director of Education with American Principles Project and an attorney with degrees from Georgetown University and Fordham School of Law. They, along with Erin Tuttle are co-authors of Deconstructing the Administrative State.

One thought on “Malkin’s Right: Silicon Valley’s-Beltway Ed Data Mining Has Been Ignored

  1. I don’t know why Americans give up on the well being of children so easily. My only theory is that most of us had a lousy education too so we can’t stand the sight of learning and are too quick to either outsource or at least keep a close eye on it. Another thought is that we don’t realize the impact childhood has on adulthood, we want to believe it’s random so our guilt is eased. We want to believe that there’s no such thing as a fulfilling vs. at-risk childhood–it’s easier to categorize it instead as normal vs. over-involved (which our society shames) so we can take pride in our overworked self-absorbed lives. I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty but the only way to save education is to educate ourselves and fight for our children’s future. I find that enjoyable, but I know a lot of people don’t, so the trick is to get them motivated. I see my child as a chance to make the world a better more delightful place, and I love seeing him grow and I love to see him acquire characteristics that will make him a good citizen, not just a good employee. Finding out what he’s missing is a big challenge because school was so different decades and centuries ago, there are so many times where I’m like who is this famous person that all these kids seemed to know about back then? Why didn’t we learn about them? Good thing I love learning and history, and yet that is never included in any educational acronyms like STEM or even the 3 Rs. What a big fight ahead, sad that it’s going to lead to an even wider more unjust class divide: the holistically educated leaders and the dumbed-down workforce/college ready drones. 🙁

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