Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Florida to School Districts: No More Biometric Scanning of Our Kids

Florida became the first state in the U.S. to ban the scanning of students for biometric information when Gov. Rick Scott signed the Education Data Privacy Act into law May 12th

The sweeping new privacy law prohibits any K-12 institutions from “collecting or retaining information regarding the political affiliation, voting history, religious affiliation, or biometric information of a student, parent, or sibling of a student.”

Examples of biometric information include fingerprint scans, palm scans, retina or iris scans, facial geometry scans, and voiceprints.

The new law allows a grace period of one academic year for schools currently using palm scanners for meal programs, but all other collection of biometric data must stop immediately.

State Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange), who introduced the bill, says she became concerned last year when she found out that Polk County was scanning children’s irises before allowing them onto the school bus.

Polk County did not notify parents or ask for their consent before instituting this practice, according to Hukill. She said she later found out that Pinellas County was scanning children’s palms in the lunch line in order to speed up the process.

“My issue is not how easy it is for the lunchroom worker. I appreciate their job and I appreciate what they do. That’s no reason to give up a kid’s privacy,” Hukill said.

Hukill says she was shocked when she first heard about the school districts’ biometric scanning of young children.

“Nobody even knew about it. I never knew about it. I didn’t believe it when I heard it. I'm like everyone else,” she told "What are you talking about? This can't happen."

“I’m a former teacher,” Hukill continued. “You’re telling me you can’t get a kid on a bus without scanning their iris? Really? You can’t give them a grilled cheese sandwich without scanning their veins? I don’t think so. I don't think so.”

"And then you know what, the privacy issues are very, very important. And one of the other big issues is that we will be desensitizing generations of children into giving up their private information for basically no reason," she said.

“I think it’s an overreach,” Hukill added. “There’s no reason for school districts to not be able to perform the task they’ve been able to do for decades. And why in the world would someone get it into their head to start collecting biometric information? These are not adults. This is not commerce.”

“Government has no business collecting biometric data on children. Absolutely no business,” she stated.

“We start with kids at five years old and say ‘put your face here'," describing the scanner as "looking like a pair of binoculars."

"They have no idea," she pointed out.

Hukill also stressed the risk of identity theft that comes with collecting students' biometric information and the unique problems this practice poses.

“Barring something physically happening or you dying, you cannot change this kind of information,” she said. “People tell me that it [biometric information] can’t be stolen. Really? Tell that to the White House. People have been able to pierce the White House, the CIA, the FBI, Target, everyone. This stuff can always be stolen.”

Florida is not the only state that has collected biometric information within its school system. Hukill mentioned that there are at least 15 to 20 other states that engage in this practice, but said that none of them had been successful so far in banning it despite efforts in other state legislatures to do so.

“I think we’re just starting to become aware that it is an issue,” Hukill said. “When people hear about it, they are absolutely shocked.”


So when will being 'white British' become a crime?

By Richard Littlejohn

Inspectors have criticised a rural school in Devon for being insufficiently ‘diverse’. Although they concede that Payhembury Primary is a ‘happy place’, it has been denied an ‘outstanding’ rating because all 68 pupils are of ‘white British heritage’.

Well, they would be. Small villages in Devon tend not to be melting pots of multiculturalism. In fact, outside the big cities, most people in Britain are of ‘white British heritage’ even though the mass immigration of the past 15 years is changing that demographic rapidly.

Parents have been told that they must pay £35 to send their children on a ‘sleep-over’ at a school in Isleworth, West London, where three-quarters of pupils are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Headteacher Penny Hammett wrote: ‘The purpose of this trip is to build up a relationship with a school in a very different community to ours. This will enable our children to gain a better understanding of multicultural Britain, which was identified in our last Ofsted as being an area for development.

‘Through our topics, visitors and discussions we have been developing multicultural awareness in both Britain and throughout the world, but this visit will help us to experience in real life a school where there is a wide mix of children with different ethnic backgrounds and almost 50 per cent of the children do not have English as their first language.’

The Rev Cate Edmonds, chairman of the governors at Payhembury, said: ‘We are fairly mono-cultural as an area in Devon and we don’t want children growing up thinking the whole world is full of trees and cows.’

But one mother objected: ‘I’m astounded by this idea. Just because the children go to a small school in the country does not mean they aren’t aware of people with different-coloured skin to them. It’s very patronising — and for the school they are visiting, too.’

Let me make it absolutely clear before the usual excitable suspects start bouncing up and down screaming ‘racism’ that it’s commendable for kids to learn about different cultures.

Exchange visits for schoolchildren have been going on since the Sixties, initially introduced to help them develop their foreign language skills.

I’m fortunate to live in a part of North London where friends and neighbours from all kinds of ethnic and religious backgrounds rub along well together.

Even 25 years ago, my children’s school photo looked as if it had been plucked straight from the pages of a United Colors of Benetton catalogue. But I despise the officially sanctioned cult of separate development masquerading as multiculturalism.

Just as it is appalling that Muslim children in the Midlands are being taught that all white women are prostitutes and Western values are dangerous, so it is only right and proper that pupils growing up in the Devon countryside are made aware of the wider world outside their immediate vicinity.

No, what bothers me about all this is the language being used and the element of compulsion — as well as the frankly sinister revelation that a school can be marked down by Ofsted not because of the standard of education it provides but because there are too few black and brown faces in the playground.

Why should a school be penalised because its pupils are from a ‘white British heritage’ background?

It all smacks of Labour’s deliberate policy of opening the immigration floodgates to ‘rub the Right’s noses in diversity’. And although the trip is voluntary, you know perfectly well that any parent who protests and refuses to cough up £35 will be categorised as a knuckle-scraping Neanderthal.

In some schools in London, the roll call is similarly mono-cultural, but 100 per cent Muslim rather than exclusively C of E. Are devout Islamic parents in Tower Hamlets going to be told they must fork  out £35 for their children to be sent on a sleep-over in Devon so they can meet people of a ‘white British heritage’ and learn all about the Anglican faith?

What do you think?

If country folk wish to visit the inner city, they are free to do so — and vice versa. But the State is obsessed with ‘celebrating diversity’, our new officially-enforced religion.

We are quite capable of celebrating anything we like, thanks very much, without Government intervention.

Millions of pounds are frittered away each year nagging, cajoling and compelling us to embrace different cultures. Great effort goes into persuading people from an immigrant background to make more use of the British countryside.

For instance, a few years ago the Environment Agency announced that fishing was horribly white, male and middle-aged. It decided to splash out £100,000 to attract more women and ethnic minorities to the riverbank.

To demonstrate the Government’s commitment, a pilot scheme was launched in Swansea, which involved taking Muslim women and children to a lake and teaching them to fish for trout.

It was headed by Nica Pritchard, the international president of the Ladies’ Fly Fishing Association, who said: ‘A couple of hours out in the countryside and you come back a new woman. If you could just see their faces when we’re teaching them, you’d know we’re really on to something.’

Talk about patronising. It made them sound like special needs children. But what struck me about the accompanying picture of these poor women was that they were forced to wear goggles over their traditional Islamic headscarves on the insistence of elf’n’safety officials.

You couldn’t make it up.

Let’s hope the children of Devon have a whale of a time in Isleworth. They should make the most of it before possession of a ‘white British heritage’ is made a criminal offence.


Minister Gove strikes a blow for British values

This was the day the Cabinet spat over hostile media briefings paled into insignificance, as the true nature and scale of the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal emerged in horrifying detail.

What has this country come to, when children at supposedly secular British state schools are indoctrinated into a ‘narrow, faith-based ideology’ inspired by an extremist interpretation of Islam?

How have we reached a point where non-Muslim pupils can be excluded from publicly-funded school trips to Saudi Arabia… or where taxpayers’ money is hijacked to set up an Islamist madrassa within a non-faith academy…?

Or where girls are segregated from boys in class, and taught to see themselves as inferior citizens… music lessons and Christmas celebrations are banned...  visiting speakers preach holy war... and teachers encourage pupils to refer to Western women as ‘white prostitutes’…?

Anyone who wondered why young Britons go off to Syria to fight for the enemies of our peaceful and tolerant way of life should wonder no longer.

What is clear from yesterday’s reports is that this ruthless campaign to change the ethos and culture of our schools is no overnight development under the Coalition, as Labour’s Tristram Hunt suggested in the Commons yesterday.

It has been going on for years, as successive governments, council administrations – and, yes, Ofsted inspectors – turned a blind eye, too terrified of offending politically correct sensibilities to raise the alarm.

As Education Secretary Michael Gove stressed yesterday, the exposure of a conspiracy by a fanatical minority must be no occasion to attack Islam itself, or the millions of peaceful and patriotic Muslims who contribute so much to this country, and whose values are exemplary.

Nor should it be seized upon by the Left as an excuse to attack faith schools. Indeed, some teach responsible citizenship in ways that put many secular schools to shame.

But it must surely be the moment for politicians and officials to wake up to the perils of cultural separatism, advocated for so long by the Left in the name of human rights and multiculturalism.

Yesterday, Mr Gove struck the first blows for integration, threatening to withdraw funding from extremist schools, introduce spot-checks by Ofsted (why haven’t they been authorised before?) and to sack governors and staff who promote hostility to our way of life. He can’t act too soon.

As for his pledge to put ‘British values’ at the heart of every school’s ethos, what a disturbing reflection on our nation – in the week of the D-Day commemorations – that so many consider it controversial.


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