Tag Archives: United States Congress

Alex Newman: Orwellian Nightmare: Data-mining Your Kids

by Alex Newman

One of the most troubling aspects of the “education reforms” currently being advanced by the Obama administration and its allies is the unprecedented monitoring and tracking of students — invasions of privacy so pervasive George Orwell might blush. Everything from biometric data to information on children’s beliefs and families is already being vacuumed up. Opponents of the “reform” agenda have highlighted the cradle-to-grave accumulation of private and intimate data as among the most compelling reasons to kill the whole process.

Aside from data produced by the looming Common Core-aligned national testing regime, most of the data-mining schemes are not technically direct components of the plot to nationalize education standards. However, the vast collection of personal information and the accompanying data-mining are intricately linked to the federally backed standards in multiple ways, not to mention myriad other federal schemes. Despite protestations to the contrary, the new standards and the data collection go together hand in hand.

Efforts to portray the data gathering via Common Core-aligned testing as a “state-led” plot notwithstanding, the Obama administration is reportedly considering raising phone taxes by executive decree to help subsidize the necessary technology. Why federal tax increases would be needed to pay for education and data-mining schemes that the federal government is supposedly not involved in has not been explained by officials, but experts and analysts say the reason is obvious.

Implementing Intrusions

Already, there are numerous systems being used and deployed across America aimed at compiling unprecedented amounts of data on students. Some are run by private organizations with government assistance; others are operated by authorities directly. All of them are extremely controversial, however, with parents and privacy advocates outraged.

Among the data schemes that have received a great deal of attention in recent months is “inBloom.” As with the new national education standards called Common Core, it is also funded by Bill Gates and the Carnegie Corporation. With at least nine states participating in the $100 million program already, the non-profit entity, which shares data with whomever authorities choose, is quickly gobbling up vast quantities of information.

Respected experts such as attorney Michael Farris, president of ParentalRights.org, pointed out that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child committee has repeatedly pressured governments to create similar national databases on children, albeit using different pretexts. Even liberals have expressed opposition. “Turning massive amounts of personal data about public school students to a private corporation without any public input is profoundly disturbing and irresponsible,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, slamming authorities for failing to disclose the scheme or offer parents an opt-out.

In conjunction with inBloom, other systems are being funded and largely directed by the federal government itself. Using the same unconstitutional process as the one used to foist Common Core on state governments — a combination of federal bribes, waivers, and more — the Obama administration all but forced cash-strapped states to start monitoring and tracking student information, or to expand their existing systems.

Previous administrations and U.S. lawmakers also contributed to the problem, with the foundations having been laid dec­ades ago. Before Obama, the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, for instance, among myriad other demands, called on states seeking federal funds to create “unique statewide identifiers” for each student. Under Obama, the process has accelerated at an unprecedented rate.

The stimulus-funded “Race to the Top,” a so-called school improvement scheme demanded by Obama, only distributed taxpayer funds to states that agreed to build and expand data systems, with the secretary of education specifically requesting interoperable databases to facilitate the collection and transfer of data. Massive bribes to states from the $50 billion “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” conditioned on acceptance of Common Core and expanded data tracking, also part of the “stimulus” package, were critical in advancing the plot as well.

Boasting about the “stimulus”-funded coercion of state governments on data regimes during a speech to UNESCO, the deeply controversial UN “education” agency, Education Secretary Arne Duncan lauded the program.

“More robust data systems and a new generation of assessments can assist teachers and principals to improve their practices and tailor their instruction in ways that were largely unthinkable in the past,” Duncan continued. “We have advanced data systems that we are constantly improving.” Duncan wants other governments and the UN to follow the Obama administration’s lead on data gathering, he explained.

The administration helped pay for expanding “state” systems with an eye toward integrating them. Some $315 million in federal grants, for example, were used to bribe state governments and help them comply. However, the specific grant scheme, known as the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) program, actually began handing out taxpayer money in 2005.

As of 2009, the latest year for which figures are available on the Department of Education’s website, 41 states and Washington, D.C. had been awarded federal SLDS grants to expand their data systems on students. Experts say all 50 states now maintain or are capable of maintaining huge databases on the vast majority of American kids.

According to the Department of Education, the goal of the SLDS grants is to have states “expand their data systems to track students’ achievement from preschool through college.” The Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics offers slightly more detail about the SLDS scheme online: “Through grants and a growing range of services and resources, the program has helped propel the successful design, development, implementation, and expansion of K12 and P-20W (early learning through the workforce) longitudinal data systems,” it explains. “These systems are intended to enhance the ability of States to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data, including individual student records.”

Cradle to Career Data Collection

Of course, all of the data collected must be shared with the U.S. Department of Education and other entities within and outside the federal government. Acting unilaterally, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan even purported to overrule federal privacy laws by promulgating new “regulations” gutting the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Some lawmakers expressed outrage, but the process continues.

“As part of what you described as a ‘cradle to career agenda,’ the Department of Education is aggressively moving to expand data systems that collect information on our nation’s students,” wrote Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), now chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, in an early 2010 letter to Duncan. “The Department’s effort to shepherd states toward the creation of a de facto national student database raises serious legal and prudential questions.”

As Kline points out in the letter, there is good reason to believe that the administration is again flouting federal law. “Congress has never authorized the Department of Education to facilitate the creation of a national student database,” he explained. “To the contrary, Congress explicitly prohibited the ‘development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information’ … and barred the ‘development, implementation, or maintenance of a Federal database.” Despite no mention of the Constitution, multiple federal statutes are cited in the correspondence.

Apparently, the administration does not take kindly to having its alleged violations of the law exposed. While it couldn’t fire Rep. Kline, the Education Department did reportedly dismiss its top privacy official, then-Family Policy Compliance Office chief Paul Gammill. According to a 2010 report in Inside Higher Ed, Gammill was fired after he “argued in internal meetings and documents that the department’s approach to prodding states to expand their longitudinal student data systems violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.” The Education Department refused to comment on the case, though it openly admits that one of the long-term goals of the SLDS program is to “make education data transparent through Federal and public reporting.”

According to the Department of Education, grants awarded to states under the program are aimed at supporting the creation and implementation of systems “that have the capacity to link individual student data across time and across databases” and “promote the linking of data collected or held by various institutions, agencies, and States.” Among the data to be included are the yearly test records of individual students mandated under the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. “States are encouraged to include additional information in their longitudinal data systems,” the department continued.

In another Education Department document offering “guidance” on the SLDS schemes, further insight is offered into what sort of information authorities are seeking and collecting. Among the “Personally Identifiable Information” outlined in the report: name, parents’ names, address, Social Security number, date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, and more.

Other private and protected data that might be collected, the document suggests, include the “political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent; mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family, sex behavior or attitudes; illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior; critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or income.” While the collection of such data in surveys and questionnaires funded by federal tax dollars requires parental consent under federal law, state-level collection does not. Plus, experts say there are numerous other potential loopholes as well.

So Much for Student Privacy

Much of the information vacuumed up at all levels of government already makes its way into a national Department of Education scheme known as “EDFacts.” The department describes it online: “EDFacts is a U.S. Department of Education (ED) initiative to collect, analyze, report on and promote the use of high-quality, kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) performance data…. EDFacts centralizes data provided by state education agencies, local education agencies and schools.” Under EDFacts, state education agencies submit some 180 data groups. The federal National Center for Education Statistics, meanwhile, describes over 400 data points to be collected.

The U.S. Department of Labor, separately, admits that it is working to “integrate workforce data and create linkages to education data.” According to the department’s “Workforce Data Quality Initiative,” the SLDS will “enable workforce data to be matched with education data to ultimately create longitudinal data systems with individual-level information beginning with pre-kindergarten through post-secondary schooling all the way through entry and sustained participation in the workforce and employment services system.” When combined with information from the IRS, ObamaCare, the NSA, and countless other federal data-collection schemes, the picture that emerges has critics very nervous.

As technology advances, the federal government’s Orwellian data gathering will — without action to stop it — almost certainly expand beyond most people’s wildest nightmares. In fact, it already has. Consider, for example, a February 2013 report by the Department of Education dubbed Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century. Included in the 100-page report is information about technology already being used in an Education Department-funded tutoring program.

“Researchers are exploring how to gather complex affective data and generate meaningful and usable information to feed back to learners, teachers, researchers, and the technology itself,” the report explains. “Connections to neuroscience are also beginning to emerge.” (Emphasis added.) The technological tools already being used by federally funded education schemes to probe students’ minds and “measure” the children include, as described in the report, “four parallel streams of affective sensors.”

Among the devices in use today through a federally funded tutoring scheme is a “facial expression camera” used to “detect emotion” and “capture facial expressions.” According to the report, the camera is linked to software that “extracts geometric properties on faces.” There is also a “posture analysis seat” and a “pressure mouse.” Finally, the report describes a “wireless skin conductance sensor” strapped to students’ wrists. The sensors collect “physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration.” Again, these systems are already being used in government-funded programs, and with technology racing ahead, developments are expected to become increasingly troubling.

Another Education Department report, entitled Enhancing, Teaching and Learning Through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics, acknowledges similarly alarming schemes. “A student learning database (or other big data repository) stores time-stamped student input and behaviors captured as students work within the system,” it notes. “A predictive model combines demographic data (from an external student information system) and learning/behavior data from the student learning database to track a student’s progress and make predictions about his or her future behaviors or performance.” (Emphasis added.)

All across the country today, Big Brother-like technological developments in biometrics are also making schools increasingly Orwellian. Earlier this year in Polk County, Florida, for example, students’ irises were scanned without parental consent. “It simply takes a picture of the iris, which is unique to every individual,” wrote the school board’s “senior director of support services” in a letter to parents. “With this program, we will be able to identify when and where a student gets on the bus, when they arrive at their school location, when and what bus the student boards and disembarks in the afternoon. This is an effort to further enhance the safety of our students. The EyeSwipe-Nano is an ideal replacement for the card based system since your child will not have to be responsible for carrying an identification card.”

In San Antonio, Texas, meanwhile, a female student made national news — and exposed what was going on — when she got in a legal battle with school officials over her refusal to wear a mandatory radio-frequency identification (RFID) device. The same devices are already being implanted under people’s skin in America and abroad — albeit voluntarily. Also in the biometric field, since at least 2007, children in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey have been fingerprinted at school under the guise of “school lunch” programs and other pretexts.

Despite fierce opposition, the trend toward using biometric data to identify and track students while collecting unimaginable amounts of information is accelerating. The federal government is helping lead the way toward abolishing any vestiges of privacy, and aside from NSA spying on virtually everyone, students appear to be among the primary targets. Without major resistance, experts predict that someday — perhaps even in the very near future — biometric identification will become ubiquitous. Combined with all of the other data being collected, the federal government may finally achieve what was sought by tyrants throughout history: detailed 24/7 information on everything, about everyone.

TNA: https://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/item/16193-orwellian-nightmare-data-mining-your-kids


Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at anewman@thenewamerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU or on Facebook

 

Birthright Citizenship, the Fourteenth Amendment and The Immigration Invasion

by Bill Lockwood

Some estimate the number of Central American citizens marching northward through Mexico to the United States to be upward of 14,000. Eighty percent of these immigrants are men younger than 35 years old. President Trump has issued a state of emergency and U.S. troops are being deployed to the Mexican border.

In the wake of this looming invasion of the sovereignty of the United States, several issues are being pushed to the forefront of national attention. The most notable is the meaning of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and its so-called Citizenship Clause. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Many cultural leaders and Constitutional commentators insist that these clauses mean that the children born of parents temporarily in the country as students, or children born of illegal aliens who are unlawfully residing within our geographical boundaries automatically become U.S. citizens. This is known as “Birthright citizenship.”

This, however, is not what the text of the Constitution says or means, in spite of the fact that many people think that it does. For example, a recent article in the Chicago Tribune argues for birthright citizenship.

Chicago Tribune

“Trump eyes order to end birthright citizenship. Legal experts say that would violate Constitution,” blares the  headline.

President Donald Trump is vowing to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the United States to non-citizens, a move most legal experts say runs afoul of the Constitution and that was dismissed Tuesday by the top House Republican.”

John Wagner, a writer for The Washington Post and author of the above lines, adds that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) dismissed the idea in a recent radio interview, explaining that Trump’s proposal is not consistent with the Constitution. Ryan explained that not only can Trump not end “birthright citizenship” with an executive order, but that Republicans did not like it when Barack Obama changed immigration policy by executive action.

At the risk of taking on the Establishment legal experts but having confidence in the fact that the Constitution was written for all to understand, these “legal experts”, including Paul Ryan, are flat wrong. As a matter of fact, one of the “choke points” designed to minimize the likelihood “that an arguably unconstitutional federal law would pass and take effect” is the plain supposition that the Constitution speaks “not merely to federal judges, but rather to all branches and ultimately to the people themselves” (Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, p. 62-63).

The Civil War Amendments

The Fourteenth Amendment was the second of three amendments to the Constitution that was adopted in post-Civil War America. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment defined citizenship and guaranteed the rights of former slaves; and the Fifteenth Amendment granted the vote to African-American men.

The point of today’s conflict resides in the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment, which actually reads: “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are citizens of the United States. Those who advocate birthright citizenship ignore the qualifying phrase.

What is the Meaning of the 14th Amendment?

First, consider Original Intent of the Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson pointed out the obvious, that “original intent” is the only legitimate interpretation.

On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

This canon of interpretation is obvious, but Jefferson knew there were and would be forces which twist the meaning of written laws to make the Constitution conform to their desires.

James Madison agreed.

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution … What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense.

James Wilson wrote that “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” And modern-day Justice Clarence Thomas underscored the point. If we are not interested in the “original intent” the Constitution has no more value than the latest football scores.

All such interpretive methodologies that speak of “various contexts” of the clauses of the Constitution, or that the text actually morphs over time and clime partake is nothing less than existential nonsense designed to free persons from the constraints of law.

Second, consider the original meaning of the 14th Amendment, specifically the qualifying phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

The 13th Amendment which abolished slavery within all the territories of the United States. It was adopted in December, 1865, only months after the conclusion of the Civil War. However, the 13th Amendment was found not to be enough.

Former slaves were forbidden to appear in “the towns in any other character than menial servants” and were required to reside upon and cultivate the land “without the right to purchase or own it.” They were excluded from many occupations of gain and were “not permitted to give testimony in the courts where a white man was a party” (Thomas Norton, The Constitution of the United States: Its Sources and Its Application).

These and other similar circumstances brought about the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in July, 1868. The chief architect of the Amendment was Ohio politician John Bingham. However, it was Senator Jacob Howard who was the author of the Citizenship Clause in question.

During debate over the clause he assured his colleagues in the Senate that the language “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was not intended to make Indians citizens of the United States because, although born in the geographical boundaries of our nation, were not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Instead, they owed allegiance to their tribes.

One of Howard’s colleagues, Senator Lyman Trumball, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued in exactly the same manner. He explained to the Senate that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else and being subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.”

“Not owing allegiance to anybody else.” That is as plain as it can be. Who can misread this? Illegal border crossers are not included in subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

It is for this reason the children of foreign diplomats do not automatically become citizens of the United States, although perhaps born on U.S. soil. There is no birthright citizenship.

Modern Constitutional writer Hons von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese Center, explains further:

The fact that a tourist or illegal alien is subject to our laws and our courts if they violate our laws does not place them within the political “jurisdiction” of the United States as that phrase was defined by the framers of the 14th Amendment.

Liberals prefer to believe that anyone present in the United States is “subject to the jurisdiction” of America. That is false, as a plain reading of the 14th Amendment shows, as well as the intention of its framers. Foreigners who jump our borders owe allegiance to other nations and are not only not citizens, neither are their children, though they may be born on this soil.

The above being the case, how did Americans, even lawmakers, come to adopt the position that “birthright citizenship” is the law of the land? Only by bureaucratic overstepping the boundaries of the Constitution. This is a perfect illustration of how governing authorities stretch the meaning of the Constitution to unlawful lengths, then assert their unauthorized position so frequently that the idea becomes settled as if it really is the law of the land.

Americans should be thankful for a president like Donald Trump who is bold enough to take on the establishment and its pretended authority to tell us what the Constitution means. The current crisis in immigration is caused solely by Big Government bureaucrats who have twisted the Constitution into their own mold and a complaisant citizenry which allows them to do so.

Does Congress Believe that “All Men are Created Equal?”

Does Congress Believe that “All Men are Created Equal?” – “We the “plebs” are incapable of sorting out right from wrong. ”

by Bill Lockwood

To Thomas Jefferson and the founding generation “All men are created equal” is a “self-evident truth.” This is one of the fundamental principles upon which the American experiment is grounded. In practical reality this earth-shattering God-given concept is anathema to many who do not view the world in Natural Law terms. It is an affront to the elitist superiority complex that inflicts so many people in power and influence. They are of the mind that some persons are more fit to rule than others. People at large need to be “managed” by the few. This is why throughout the ages men have consistently drifted into power-broker positions which assume that all men are not born equal, but most of us must be controlled; our lives managed by the few.

Just before Christmas President Obama signed a bi-partisan measure passed in the GOP-controlled Congress entitled the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $611 billion for the military. But deep within the 1,500-page bill, sponsored by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), lies a totalitarian scheme entitled the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act. It is in bold reality a supervising strategy in which our elected officials will superintend what information we will be fed. Obama has not been whining about “fake news” for nothing.

During debates on the bill as liberal Republican and Democrats sought to push these measures through, it was argued that we need a “whole-government approach” to counter “foreign disinformation and manipulation.” Bottom Line: An official government organ needs to counter foreign government misinformation.

Portman complained that “there is no single U.S. government agency or department charged with the national level development, integration and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.” These foreign countries, continued the Senator, “spend vast sums of money on advanced broadcast and digital media capabilities, targeted campaigns, funding of foreign political movements, and other efforts to influence key audiences and populations.”

This blatantly unconstitutional measure actually creates a bureaucracy that will serve to funnel “correct news” to media outlets. As Zero-Hedge accurately calls it, the United States has now an official “Ministry of Truth.” Shocking, and a good insight into how government operatives think. Their method of handling the hypocrisy of government agents such as Hillary Clinton, who have been caught in the Main Stream Media bed, is to create an official bedroom where this illegitimacy can occur with government approval.

What Shall We Say to These Things?

I have another suggestion. Let’s consider Congress as “servants of the people.” In this model, the population at large, operating in an open free market, should dialogue, debate, and explore various “news” and “points of view” –through paper, television, internet, etc.–and then We the People will instruct our Congressmen and Senators on how we wish them to vote on particular bills. “We the People” will be the gate-keepers and Congress our servants. Original, isn’t it?

Another thing. Why does Congress itself “debate” and “discuss” various bills with a multiplicity of viewpoints? It is simple. Because these elitist, snobbish, holier-than-thou Congressmen and women think of themselves in superiority terms. Only they can debate and hear both sides. Only official government appointees are mentally capable of entertaining various views and drawing conclusions warranted by evidence. All men are not created equal to these prima donna’s. We the “plebs” are incapable of sorting out right from wrong. “Let us sort through the options,” says Congress, “and we will tell you the correct news.”

What’s next? Disallowing commoners to vote on selected issues? As a matter of fact, that is exactly what exiting European Union Council head just proposed on the international stage. Slovak Prime Minister and EU Council boss Robert Fisco last week urged Council members to begin disallowing citizens in Europe to vote on important issues. “I am asking,” said communist Fisco, “EU leaders to stop with adventures like the British and Italian referendums … on domestic issues which pose a threat to the EU.” Apparently, that is the direction to which America is headed as well. Little difference exists between “disallowing citizens to vote” and “disallowing citizens information from both sides of an issue” that they may intelligently vote.

With the same doctrine the Roman Church throughout its history disallowed its members access to the Holy Scriptures. During the Middle Ages Bibles were literally chained to various structures in their facilities and the continuing belief today is that any interpretation of biblical issues outside the pale of the imprimatur of the Holy See is illegitimate. It was this practice of denying mankind the right of interpretation, based upon his inability to draw proper conclusions, that helped spark the Reformation Movement. Perhaps we need more than a Trump Revolution. We need a complete Reformation of the United States government.