Feb 072011
‘Implied consent’ means no parental approval is needed

Kindergarten students in BC are being used to “data-mine” information about them and their families—with or without parents’ consent.

The Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of BC (H.E.L.P.) recently sent a letter to parents of kindergarten students—now that all-day kindergarten has been imposed on BC families—“informing” them that unless the parents go out of their way to meet with their child’s teacher, consent to the data-mining operation is “assumed”.

Helen Ward of Kids First Canada brought a copy of the H.E.L.P. letter to RoadKill Radio’s studio Feb. 1. The letter says medical health and education records are linked in the project, which gathers personal, private data.

The survey seeks information about kindergartners’ physical health and well-being, social knowledge and competence, emotional health and maturity, language and cognitive development, and general knowledge and communication skills. All the information is linked through a “Personal Education Number” assigned to each child; the child’s name is not on the form—but their P.E.N.s and postal codes are, which make it easy to identify each child—and family.

Kindergarten teachers are asked to give subjective answers about each student to eight pages of questions.

“This isn’t real research,” said Helen Ward, pointing out that there are questions teachers cannot answer without asking parents—including “problems at home.” The teachers will have to guess. And some of the questions—like “are there troubles at home?”—are also intrusive.

(Hear the whole discussion in RKR archives for Show #86, Part 2.)

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