Totalitarian Data-Gathering

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDay 26: SKINNER HORROR FILES

Behav­ioral Psy­chol­o­gy and the Inva­sion of Your Child’s Privacy

Benjamin Bloom

Ben­jamin Bloom

The fol­low­ing alarm­ing infor­ma­tion comes from Appen­dix XVI in my book, an arti­cle titled “Total­i­tar­i­an Data-Gath­er­ing Sys­tem Pre­pared by U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion” by Samuel Blu­men­feld.* You can read his arti­cle in its entire­ty by going to my web­site: and click­ing to down­load the orig­i­nal edi­tion of my book.

Blu­men­feld’s insight­ful arti­cle is a must read for par­ents who want to know what sort of data is being col­lect­ed on their chil­dren. Sam begins with the statement:

If ever proof were need­ed to con­firm that the New World Order would be total­i­tar­i­an in its con­trol of indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens, the U.S. Depart­ment of Education’s recent release of its hand­books on data-gath­er­ing on stu­dents and fac­ul­ty should be enough to sat­is­fy any free­dom-lov­ing cit­i­zen. The two pub­li­ca­tions are the Stu­dent Data Hand­book for Ear­ly Child­hood, Ele­men­tary, and Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion (NCES 94–303) released in June 1994, com­prised of 226 pages plus about 100 pages of appen­dices, and the Staff Data Hand­book: Ele­men­tary, Sec­ondary and Ear­ly Child­hood Edu­ca­tion (NCES 95–327) released in Jan­u­ary 1995, com­prised of 219 pages and about 70 pages of appen­dices. Both Hand­books were pro­duced under the aus­pices of the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, the Office of Edu­ca­tion­al Research and Improve­ment (OERI), and the Nation­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics (NCES).

Chap­ter 1 also pro­vides this reveal­ing Overview:

Accu­rate and com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion is need­ed in order to make appro­pri­ate cost effec­tive and time­ly deci­sions about stu­dents with­in both pub­lic and pri­vate schools. Teach­ers, school admin­is­tra­tors, school dis­trict admin­is­tra­tors, school board mem­bers, and state and fed­er­al edu­ca­tion agency per­son­nel must use infor­ma­tion about stu­dents to plan and car­ry out pro­grams of learn­ing that meet the needs of chil­dren with dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties and require­ments, from diver­gent back­grounds, and of dif­fer­ent ages. School health offi­cials and oth­er ser­vice providers also use infor­ma­tion about indi­vid­ual stu­dents to ensure appro­pri­ate ser­vices are pro­vid­ed to them. These infor­ma­tion needs are being met in an increas­ing num­ber of instances by auto­mat­ed man­age­ment infor­ma­tion sys­tems that allow data to be ana­lyzed in a vari­ety of ways to address the ques­tions and needs of the deci­sion-mak­ers. A man­age­ment infor­ma­tion sys­tem is effec­tive, how­ev­er, only to the extent that data are con­sis­tent­ly entered into the sys­tem accord­ing to estab­lished def­i­n­i­tions, data are updat­ed and main­tained on a reg­u­lar basis, and infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant for ongo­ing deci­sion-mak­ing can be added to the sys­tem. This hand­book address­es the impor­tance of con­sis­ten­cy in how data are defined and main­tained with­in the edu­ca­tion system.”

privacy invasionBlu­men­feld’s arti­cle doc­u­ments an diverse array of high­ly per­son­al infor­ma­tion on your child that is being col­lect­ed by the gov­ern­ment. Blu­men­feld under­stands how this is tied all to the behav­ioral psy­chol­o­gy of B.F. Skin­ner. He wrote:

What Can Be Done?
It is absolute­ly essen­tial, if we are to remain a free peo­ple, that this entire data-col­lec­tion sys­tem be stopped and dis­man­tled. It has no place in a free soci­ety. The leg­is­la­tion that autho­rized it must be repealed or rescind­ed or defund­ed. This entire sys­tem is based on the need of behav­ioral sci­en­tists for a detailed, lon­gi­tu­di­nal accu­mu­la­tion of data to ver­i­fy the [effi­ca­cy] of their pro­grams to change human behav­ior. Ben­jamin Bloom, the god­fa­ther of Out­come-Based Edu­ca­tion, wrote in his 1964 book Sta­bil­i­ty and Change in Human Characteristics:

We can learn very lit­tle about human growth, devel­op­ment, or even about spe­cif­ic human char­ac­ter­is­tics unless we make full use of the time dimen­sion. Efforts to con­trol or change human behav­ior by ther­a­py, by edu­ca­tion, or by oth­er means will be inad­e­quate and poor­ly under­stood until we can fol­low behav­ior over a longer peri­od.” (p. 5)

Bloom2That the behaviorist’s pur­pose of edu­ca­tion is to change human behav­ior was spelled out in Bloom’s Tax­on­o­my of Edu­ca­tion­al Goals deal­ing with the affec­tive domain. He was great­ly con­cerned with the need to get con­trol of chil­dren as ear­ly as pos­si­ble. He wrote:

The evi­dence points out con­vinc­ing­ly to the fact that age is a fac­tor oper­at­ing against attempts to effect a com­plete or thor­ough-going reor­ga­ni­za­tion of atti­tudes and val­ues.” (p. 85)

The evi­dence col­lect­ed thus far sug­gests that a sin­gle hour of class­room activ­i­ty under cer­tain con­di­tions may bring about a major reor­ga­ni­za­tion in cog­ni­tive as well as affec­tive behav­iors. We are of the opin­ion that this will prove to be a most fruit­ful area of research in con­nec­tion with the affec­tive domain.” (p. 88)

privacy invasion2And in Sta­bil­i­ty and Change in Human Char­ac­ter­is­tics, Bloom wrote:

We believe that the ear­ly envi­ron­ment is of cru­cial impor­tance for three rea­sons. The first is based on the very rapid growth of select­ed char­ac­ter­is­tics in the ear­ly years and con­ceives of the vari­a­tions in the ear­ly envi­ron­ment as so impor­tant because they shape these char­ac­ter­is­tics in their most rapid peri­ods of formation.

Sec­ond­ly, each char­ac­ter­is­tic is built on a base of that same char­ac­ter­is­tic at an ear­li­er time or on the base of oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics which pre­cede it in development….

A third rea­son… stems from learn­ing the­o­ry. It is much eas­i­er to learn some­thing new than it is to stamp out one set of learned behav­iors and replace them by a new set.” (p. 215)

The data col­lec­tion sys­tem out­lined in the Stu­dent Hand­book will give the behav­ior­ists the vital tool they need to hone their abil­i­ty to thor­ough­ly reor­ga­nize the val­ues, atti­tudes and behav­iors of the Amer­i­can stu­dent. God help us if this sys­tem is implemented.

*from The Blumenfeld Education Newsletter, October 1995 (Vol. 10, No. 10, Letter #109). All bold and color emphasis in this post is added.