LONGITUDINAL DATA SYSTEMS
A nationalized education system that is “efficient,” “cost-effective,” and helps assess the role of education in “workforce readiness”– like that advocated by the Common Core State Standards Initiative (commonly referred to as Common Core State Standards (CCSS)) – will require an integrated data system to collect, report, analyze, and act on individual student and workplace performance data. While no such national system currently exists today, an integrated, national system is being built component-by-component by the States through United States Department of Education (USDOE) grants and programs and participation in national standards organizations. Once each State completes its own SLDS, “national” system integration will be a simple task. It will also circumvent current law and the intent of Congress. The system is being “built” by the USDOE using the same tactics used to nationalize the United States educational curriculum via CCSS. These tactics stand in direct opposition to federal (i.e., 20 U.S.C. Chapter 70, Subchapter IX, Part E, Subpart2: other provisions) that prevent the Department of Education from either maintaining or mandating a national student database that contains personally identifiable information.
Virginia Education Coalition (VEC) opposes the USDOE’s back-door nationalization of students’ individual private data for the following reasons:
- USDOE is circumventing current law and is bypassing Congress in its Constitutional role of authoring and passing new law.
- A large, centralized federal government is not about “efficiency, effectiveness, and workplace readiness.” It is about laws, regulations, wealth redistribution, and enforcement which, by the very nature of large government, trade personal individual liberty and free market economics for bureaucracy and dependency.
- Personal information, in the wrong hands, can be used for other than honorable purposes. Recent examples include (1) revelations that the federal government is spying on its own people without warrant (the Patriot Act and PRISM) and (2) selective vetting by the IRS of conservative, non-profit organizations that do not fit the current Administration’s agenda.
VEC believes in efficiency, effectiveness, and workplace readiness, but thinks this is the purview of private enterprise. History shows us that when government tries to directly intervene in the free market, the result is best described by the law of unintended consequences.
To preclude this from happening with personal private information collected through the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS), the Commonwealth of Virginia should enact laws, consistent with its state Constitution and Bill of Rights (the Virginia Declaration of Rights) that absolutely preclude the VDOE from communicating to any third- party any personal, private, individually identifiable information that is collected by the State as part of its responsibility to analyze, design, develop, implement, and regulate pre-K, K-12, secondary, and post-secondary public and private education, and workplace education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This would mean that Virginia could not accept federal grants or coordinate with standards making bodies such as the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) or the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) standards if they do not recognize and / or will not accept Virginia’s privacy laws, policies, processes, and systems.
The attached white paper describes: (1) how a nationalized longitudinal data system is being built, (2) how Virginia Department of Education has chosen to address individual privacy, business, and legal constraints in a politically charged environment shaped by rapidly changing technology, and (3) recommendations for addressing shortcomings in Virginia’s approach.