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Education Reporter

New National Defense Education Act of 2006 —
Building the U.S. National Student Database

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Federal tentacles may soon reach deeper into the lives of all students if Congress approves the New National Defense Education Act of 2006. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced Senate bill 3502 on June 13, 2006. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John Kerry (D-MA) were noted as the bill's two cosponsors.

The bill proposes "To modernize the education system of the United States, to arm individuals with 21st century knowledge and skills in order to preserve the economic and national security of the United States, and for other purposes."

Aside from math, science, engineering, technology, and foreign language support, the bill contains proposals that further the old global school reforms that received attention in the 90's decade through Goals 2000, School-to-Work, and other federal laws — reforms now promoted by No Child Left Behind.

S. 3502 helps consolidate control of education content through encouraging partnerships with higher education and state adoption of national/international standards that are known to contain nonacademic behavioral/life skills and workplace skills. It is doubtful that alignment with nonacademic objectives will improve student academic achievement.

S. 3502 mandates more data gathering and aids in creating what amounts to a national database by requiring statewide data systems to have the ability to interact with databases outside of education.

Bill proposals not only affect public and private school students, but also students in the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau.

S. 3502 amends the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act, Internal Revenue Code, National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002, Higher Education Act of 1963, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Also included is support for activity that links with the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

Data system plans 
Inside the 141-page bill are plans for "integrated pre-kindergarten through grade 16 data systems" and using a "unique statewide student identifier for each student."

The data systems must be able to link with military and employment databases, and "to the extent possible, coordinate with other relevant State databases, such as criminal justice or social services data systems." Other requirements:

  • include student-level "enrollment, demographic, and program participation . . . race or ethnicity, gender and income statistics," as well as transcript details including courses completed and grades earned

  • match a student's test records from year to year

  • match records between preschool to 12th grade and postsecondary systems

  • "information on untested students"

  • match teachers to students with a "teacher identifier system"

  • higher education student attendance rates

  • "State data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability"

Many states have begun building data systems and bringing in the components listed above (see "Building Statewide Data Systems," page 4). Lack of money has hindered development, but S. 3502 would authorize more funds.

The implication of S. 3502 supporting the building blocks for a national student database where information may be shared among non-education agencies — military, workforce, social services, criminal justice, and more — is troubling, particularly when considering the 700+ elements identified for student data collection by the U.S. Dept. of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. (See "What's in Your Child's Data File," Education Reporter, Feb. 2006)

P-16 preparedness councils 
State level "pre-kindergarten through grade 16 preparedness councils" — authorized and funded by competitive grants — are tasked with the design and implementation of pre-K through higher education data systems and the creation of state education plans involving "academic content standards, student academic achievement standards, assessment specifications, and assessment questions as necessary, to ensure such standards and assessments meet national and international benchmarks. . ."

Other council responsibilities include encouraging: adoption of early education (to link with elementary schools), partnership between secondary education and higher education, and activity to promote statewide P-16 reform acceptance.

Many states already have councils established through the governor's executive order or state agency initiatives, usually involving state departments of education and/or boards of education. A few states (North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas) have legislated the formation of a council.

More testing and data collection 
S. 3502 adds a science assessment for 4th and 8th grade (starting in 2009) and a "biennial national assessment of student achievement" and for "grade 12 preparedness" in reading, math, and science. "Assessment data, including achievement and student preparedness data trends" in public and private schools, are to be reported.

Exploring use of a secondary level "placement examination, end of course examination, college, workforce, or Armed Forces preparedness examination, or admissions examination" is suggested. National/International alignment

S. 3502 encourages an "alignment analysis" to compare State academic content standards and student academic achievement standards; and state standards alignment with national benchmarks including those in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The bill directs determination of student achievement levels and "grade 12 preparedness levels" by identifying knowledge and skills that "are prerequisite to credit-bearing coursework in higher education . . . , participation in the 21st century workforce, and the Armed Forces" and "are competitive with international content and performance standards."

Global education goals — promoted by international groups like the OECD, UNESCO, World Bank, and Group of Eight (G8) — have been contested in the United States as being contrary to producing well-educated students who are prepared for U.S. citizenship.

Containing questionable "skills and knowledge" and "world citizenship" promotion, international education involves attitude, value, and behavior "standards" that conflict with concepts of inalienable rights, individual merit, privacy, private property, free speech, national allegiance, national sovereignty, and more.

Same ineffective ideas 
The New National Defense Education Act supports international plans that have fueled U.S. academic decline for several decades. Global social reforms are being inserted into schools via U.S. leadership endorsement of U.N. "lifelong education," including a growing list of nonacademic "21st century [job] skills and knowledge" that annually consume more class time. Predictably, the need for remedial reading, writing, and math has increased in high schools and colleges. Now, some globalist "change agents" are itching for more of the same.

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