But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.
In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.
Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.
This is but another unholy alliance between government and big business. First of all, the government has absolutely no business keeping detailed tabs on any citizen, and this is doubly true for minors. No public (read: taxpayer-funded) school has any business gathering, verifying, consolidating, or sharing this information, period. And gathering up students SSNs is just asking for a whole bunch of legal trouble, as government data isn’t exactly known for being unhackable.
Second, it’s just sick that businesses are doing their damnedest to perpetuate the education bubble. How many young people will need to be sold into slavery in the pursuit of worthless credentials before we decide we have had enough? The cost of college keeps rising, the debt burden of students increases year after year (and that debt can’t even be discharged in bankruptcy), the unemployment rate for young people with college degrees keeps rising, and wages keep falling. And now businesses want to sell people “educational services” so that their children can be a part of this sick system? Is there no depth that crony capitalists won’t sink to? Must corporations constantly petition the government for special favors that are designed to screw over the common people?
Perhaps this is simply a test, in which the government is yet again testing see just how intrusive it can be without citizens complaining. Or perhaps the government is hoping that, if it starts soon enough, the current generation of children will become so used to being monitored in every possible way that it will never occur to them to complain about the state’s intrusion into their personal lives.
Ultimately, though, this story provides yet another reason to homeschool your children. If nothing else, homeschooling makes it more difficult for the government to keep tabs on you.