Category Archives: US Chamber of Commerce

Minnesota’s Data Practices Commission Meets our State Dystopian Data System Novel-in-the-Making

Little girl with magnifying glass in hand. Sitting at desk in front of blackboard. Magnifying her's eye. Looking at camera. Front view

Minnesota’s Data Practices Commission Meets our State Dystopian Data System Novel-in-the-Making

Can you imagine your child’s school teacher or principal presenting you with your life’s profession in the 7th grade? Without you or your parent’s consent or discussion?  In Minnesota, “career pathways” which lead to “successful workforce outcomes” decided primarily by a child’s data is one of the main missions of the State Longitudinal Educational Data System or SLEDS.   Minnesota meet Dystopia!

Last December 2014, the recently formed Data Practices Commission sat down for a presentation from the Minnesota Office of High Learning to find out just what is going on with data collection and the student database in our state.   Although the presentation involved mostly goals and management of the SLEDS, career pathways were mentioned in passing.  I was rather amazed at the amount of information on career pathways in Minnesota!

Remember Lois Lowry’s, The Giver, written in 1993?  The novel is “set in a society which at first appears as a Utopian Society but then later is revealed to be a Dystopian one, as the story progresses. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth and thirteenth years of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicate emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community’s decision making. Jonas struggles with concepts of all of the new emotions, and things being introduced to him, and whether they are inherently good, evil, in-between, and if it’s even possible to have one without the other. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate and terrain whatsoever, all in effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.”

“Jonas, who is eleven years old, is apprehensive about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve (7th grade), where he will be assigned his career or his “assignment in the community”.  In his society, little privacy is allowed; even private houses have two-way intercoms which can be used to listen in for infractions of the rules. However, the rules appear to be readily accepted by all, including Jonas.”  Read more here.

Granted Lowry’s book is fiction but this story is eerily close to reality!  Interest in Career Pathways and Career Pathway Systems has been soaring since our US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan made this comment highlighting his faith in  data-driven decision making.

“My personal favorite [story] occurred when he [Duncan] visited a charter school in Brooklyn.  He told those assembled that the United States is facing both an economic crisis and an educational crisis. And then came this immortal line: “We should be able to look every second   grader in the eye and say, ‘You’re on track, you’re going to be able to go to a good college, or you’re not,” he said.”  Diane Ravitch, blog.

According to the Office of Higher Learning (Minnesota Department of Education) website, who helps manage the Minnesota State Longitudinal Education Data System, “SLEDS brings together data from education and workforce to identify viable pathways for individuals in achieving successful outcomes in education and work. It will also inform decisions to support and improve education and workforce policy, helping to create a more seamless education and workforce system for all Minnesotans.  SLEDS is populated with education and workforce data collected from the contributing state agencies MDE, the Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.”

How does the Minnesota Department of Education collect your child’s data?  How are the databases populated?  The data is sent via ipad or chromebook.  Notice how many school districts are utilizing completely online curriculum and/or testing?  Your child logs in with their own personal school log-in ID and the data flies.  This is one of the identifiers for your child in the SLEDS.   That news for another segment!

Minnesota’s Career Pathways System is quite robust and nearly complete!  So who is interested in your little human capital’s career path besides you, the parent and your child?  There are numerous organizations in addition to:

  • Your child’s school district

 Robbinsdale Schools Logo

  • Minnesota Department of Education

Minnesota Department of Education Logo

Minnesota State Universities and Colleges

MN State Colleges and Universities

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Minnesota Department of Economic Development

Minnesota State Legislature via Minnesota World’s Best Workforce:  Statute 120B.11

  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Logo

Minnesota Workforce Council

  • Pearson Workforce Education

Viridis Learning Logo                       Pearson Workforce Education

  • The ACT and ACT WorkKeys


  • Alliance for Quality Career Pathways

Alliance for Quality Career Pathways Logo

  • Advancing Career and Technical Education for Career Pathways

Advancing Career and Technical Education for Career Pathways Logo

  • Data Quality Campaign

Data Quality Campaign Logo

A Career Pathway is your child’s sequence in curriculum, and therefore THE curriculum!  At what age do children know their own minds well enough to make big life decisions, such as their life-long career?  Business leaders need to ask themselves if 7th grade or earlier, an unwise “investment”?

Teachers and schools are no longer in the driver’s seat in curriculum development or  curriculum-sequencing.  Will these career pathways educate a child for all occupations, the broad liberal arts education that every child deserves, or deliver a more  narrow path for just a few occupations?  Who is ultimately in charge regarding curriculum?  Is it education or business?  That’s the question we must ask!  We feel that every child should be given every a great academic education, not a mere skills-based training, while allowing them to reach for the stars, whether it be in 2nd grade, 7th grade or 12th grade.

We highly encourage parents to refuse the tests and surveys given online, particularly computer adaptive as well as refuse online curriculum.  These three components feed the data system.

NEXT UP:  We delve into the world of Career Pathways from all perspectives!

























Minnesota Statutes – Local Control over Standards and Curriculum


Minnesota Statutes – Local Control over Standards and Curriculum


Minnesota school district may opt out of the Common Core Standards as well as Common Core Standards curriculum.   Oh, happy day!!!

Minnesota Statute 120B.021, subd. 2 governs academic standards development, including standards adoption by the state. Subdivision 2, (2) specifically prohibits academic standards from requiring “a specific teaching methodology or curriculum.” This means that while the state is responsible for the development and adoption of standards in key subject areas such as language arts, math, science, etc., that school districts maintain control and authority over curriculum.

 Your school district may opt out of using Common Core Standards curriculum.

Additionally, 120B.021, subd. 1a provides the waiver or exemption that empowers school districts to override a state adopted set of standards. It is the rigorous course study waiver and basically a school district can waive state mandated standards if the locally developed standards “that is equally or more rigorous than the corresponding state” standards. This waiver was intended on a student by student basis, but that does not mean the district could not apply it more broadly.

Students or school districts may individually opt out of the Common Core Standards.

 Our school districts have more local control and authority than they either know or appreciate. There are provisions in state law intended to help protect local control.

Time to call your district and demand that they stop using Common Core Standards and Common Core curriculum!  Take 25 – 50 – 75 parents with you and demand… do not ask.

Nationally-Known Speaker, Dr. Pesta Comes to Duluth and the Twin Cities

Nationally-Known Speaker, Dr. Pesta Comes to Duluth and the Twin Cities
Minnesotans Against Common Core (MACC) and Northlanders Against Common Core (Duluth and Iron Range) is excited to sponsor Dr. Duke Pesta, English professor from UW-Oshkosh, presenting in both the Twin Cities and Duluth.
Here’s the information!
Friday, February 6th at 7:00pm, Grace Church in Eden Prairie
9301 Eden Prairie Rd.  Eden Prairie, MN   55347
Saturday, February 7th at 2:00pm, Duluth Gospel Tabernacle
1515 W Superior St.   Duluth, MN   55806
Common Core/Minnesota World’s Best Workforce Education Summit will feature Dr. Pesta in his, “The Case Against Common Core National Standards”.  Dr. Pesta is nationally-known having spoken in nearly every state and before legislative hearings on the Common Core.  There will be a question and answer session following the meeting.
Just following the Twin Cities’ event, MACC will hold short advocacy training sessions in a breakout style, explaining the connection of Common Core to our mandated statute on the workforce.  We’ll have lots of handouts to help in local and state activism; email and letter templates, and the like.  We’ll also quickly give a run down on good and bad legislation and MACC-inspired legislation.
Please send to all your friends around the state!!!   We are grateful to have Dr. Pesta here and want to have a great crowd at the event.


A Minnesota Legend and the Future of Digitized Education in America

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Minnesota Legendary Reporter Jim Ragsdale and the Future of Digitized Education in America

In 2013 reporter Jim Ragsdale brought to light our Minnesota legislative auditor’s report on data collection and very questionable security for our state’s schools via the Minnesota Department of Education.   Recently Mr. Ragsdale passed away, but not without remembrance of his courage to report hard news.

“In Minnesota, a legislative auditor discovered that the state department of education’s computer systems ‘lacked adequate internal controls and comprehensive security plans’ and that department employees ‘had failed to document where private (student) data was held or the internal controls needed to secure it.’ The federal government having access, via these interconnected longitudinal data systems, to so much data about our kids is frightening. And it’s not just academic information that’s at stake.”

Anne Taylor asks why more journalists are not covering this and related stories.  Read on to learn what educational topics would be of definite interests to parents and citizens if covered by local journalists.

A Minnesota Legend and the Future of Digitized Education in America (2)