Parents are rallying against using Big Data in public schools

Some people aren’t excited by the opportunities afforded by big data, even when those benefits include overhauling a troubled public school system. Politico reports that a sizable group of amateur activists, spurred on by communications over social networks like Facebook, have created a significant political force against the collection of data on children in school. They’re working on shutting down databases in every state that seek to improve public education by gaining more information about how children develop and how behaviors at a young age affect future success. With the NSA revelations and other high-profile privacy concerns, perhaps it isn’t surprising that parents are lashing back, but politicians did not expect this kind of opposition to the databases.

You’ve heard of Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Now get ready for Big Parent. Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy — an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring — to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming. A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard. Initially dismissed as a fringe campaign, the privacy movement has attracted powerful allies on both the left and right. The American Civil Liberties Unionis pushing for more student privacy protection. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, the organization of conservative legislators. The amateur activists have already claimed one trophy, torpedoing a privately run, $100 million database set up to make it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies.

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Written by Chastity Mansfield

I'm a writer, an amateur designer, and a collector of trinkets that nobody else wants. You can find me on Noozeez, and Twitter.

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