Janet Napolitano will soon be arriving at the University of California system office to take over the Presidency of the University of California System. What many Alaskans may not realize is that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia, that testing service that Alaska has joined for Common Core testing, is housed in the University of California system through the UCLA campus. As part of that agreement, Alaska’s Governor also agreed to comply with all data requests and provide them with access to Alaska’s P20 database. For those unaware of the governing document, it is in the document section of Stop Alaska Common Core.
Unlike most states, construction of Alaska’s P20 database occurred independently of the Common Core standards. P20 is an “ultra-secure” file type that will be in cloud storage that goes from Pre-Kindergarten to grade 20 and includes 400 data points. Due to the availability of a $4 million dollar grant, the state of Alaska applied for and received this grant to create a P20 database in 2011. It is maintained at the moment by the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (AK DEED) served as the fiscal agent on the grant, and the database will be used extensively in “evidence based” education according to Alaska’s 2013 waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Thus, little Susie’s teacher will know Susie’s bus stop times, parent’s voting preferences, religious affiliation, gun ownership, and all sorts of other details essential to educating little Susie. As little Susie grows, her professors and future employers will have access to not so little Susie’s data too, as well as any other tidbits contributed by teachers and other school personnel along the way as Little Susie grows to be a woman.
In order to merge the data, Governor Parnell issued Administrative Order (AO 261) in December 2011. Now at the time, it may have seem like a good idea to remove the firewalls and integrate the Permanent Fund Data, Alaska Housing Finance Authority data, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development data, and the University of Alaska data, and all other state agencies’ data into one large data set on the “unit” (or person) level. It may have sounded like a good idea at the time, and as someone trained as an econometrician, I get the “desire for data” to do research to make better public policy choices.
However, I don’t think it is such a good idea anymore. It is time for the Governor, and other Alaskans, to rethink this Administrative Order, and Alaska’s membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in light of recent developments.
First, let’s note that Janet Napolitano is not a big fan of civilians owning guns. Let’s also recognize that through the Smarter Balanced agreement, she will have access to Alaskan data at through the via Smarter Balanced Affiliation with the University of California. Let’s also recognize that Smarter
Balanced and the University of California system may do with this data whatever they wish under the new changes for privacy laws. This is unit level data on everyone in Alaska. Does anyone in this state really trust this dataset in the hands of Janet Napolitano?
Second, there is this strange little provision in ObamaCare that allows for home visits if a student scores poorly on tests. There are also other provisions like smoking, being a veteran, and some other variables that can trigger these visits, but poor test results is one that clearly triggers a home wellness visit through ObamaCare. These test scores will be part of the P20 database. Let’s not forget that this database includes the Permanent Fund Dividend data, so even if you do not have a child in school, you appear in the database. Have you ever signed to be able to pick up a niece or grandchild after school? Any adult associated with a child who performs poorly on a test could get a wellness visit.
Remember, the PFD data and the Alaska Housing Finance Data includes banking information, mailing address, physical address, and easily reveals the names of all family members through sponsorship.
The above is disconcerting. Why should the school needs data on people who do not have children in school?
We are heading into an era where our rights and privacy are in a precarious state of affairs with respect to the Federal Government. Governor Parnell says he is against ObamaCare and the Common Core. If this is true, then certainly he will see the wisdom of protecting Alaskans privacy by undertaking the following actions:
A) Rescind AO 261. Put the firewalls between the data sets back in place.
B) Withdraw Alaska from the Smarter Balanced Agreement immediately.
The page referenced on Obama Care and test scores can be accessed here.
Dr. Barbara Haney is an economist, political activist, and social media consultant in Alaska. She has previously served as a program director and faculty member at University of Alaska, Eastern Illinois University, University of Notre Dame, and other colleges and research institutions. In addition to her university experience, Dr. Haney has served as an ABE educator and a home school educator. She has served as a district chairman, national delegate, and campaign volunteer in various Republican campaigns. Dr. Haney receives mail at BarbaraHaney100@gmail.com