Teach KIDS to Say “No” to Data-Mining at School


The following references a survey given to High School students, but the advice is the same for parents of children in all K12 classrooms. Yes, that means you may have to teach your five-year-old to say “No” to an adult in authority over them, but which would you prefer: having an awkward conversation with your pre-rational child about protecting personal boundaries from adults who aren’t amongst their “trusted people,” or leaving them ignorant of the fact that these adults are not amongst their “trusted people,” and it’s OK to say “no” to them?

The Conversation You Don’t Want to Have Too-Late


Parents: PLEASE teach your children they should never, under any circumstances, answer these surveys. If they are told they must, their civil rights are being violated. They have more rights in the classroom than YOU have, and compelled speech is *against the law.*

The tweet above references this survey at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, but it’s the same survey used at schools all over this country; yours is likely one of them.

If your child says no, and is threatened, or pressured in any way by any school employee or “official” (IOW, any adult within the school building) to comply, have your child get that person’s name and title immediately. Then have them call you immediately. When you get that call, drop what you are doing, and call a lawyer. In fact, right now, before you do anything else today, find the lawyer you’d be able to call in such a scenario. It won’t be easy to find them on the spot, it may take a day or two (even a week).

Yes, it’s sad I have to tell you all this. No, you shouldn’t have to do any of this.

Yes, I wish every single one of you would have kept your kids home PERMANENTLY after this holiday break, but I live in the real world, and know you aren’t gonna do that.

No, I’m not going to worry about what people will say about me because I’m trying to help you protect your kids from data-mining at school.

However, I do care what my fellow parents think because I don’t want you write me off as a kook too quickly. I realize what I’m saying is hard to take. It probably sounds paranoid, hyperbolic, and conspiratorial, so do your own homework. Get the answers to every one of these questions, and then consider what I’m saying:

  • Why does the government want this data?
  • What do they plan to do with it?
  • How much do you trust the government not to share the data with people whose aim is to manipulate or exploit your children for financial or political gain?
  • How does the collection of this data help your child, and how do you know?
  • What concrete evidence do you have that any of the claims made by those collecting the data are true?
  • Would you be comfortable answering these questions, multiple times per year, if the state were asking? How about your employer?
  • What if you were told you had to, and could not say no?
  • What if it were your parents telling you to comply to avoid punishment by the state?
  • What if you want the state to give you a copy of ALL data collected on your child, along with information about how it has been, is being, and will be used?
  • What if you or your child, once they’re grown, want their childhood data PURGED from the state’s records?

I’ve answered these questions for myself, so has Lisa Logan, and I highly recommend you read everything she’s written at Education if you haven’t already, but if we are still not credible enough to overcome the cognitive dissonance of hearing how much the state “cares” about your child’s mental health and “well-being,” keep digging! All I’m saying is, default to “NO” while you do. There is no GOOD reason, ever, to answer deeply personal questions for the state without first understanding how they plan to use it, now, and in perpetuity.

Most important of all, never give someone, anyone, information about your child if you can’t ask the collector to PURGE that data after-the-fact if you discover it’s being used inappropriately.

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No One Said Parenting Would Be Easy

As awkward as it’s going to be, as much as you do NOT want to face your kid and admit they can’t trust their school, denial could cost you and your child DEARLY. Will there be blowback? Not gonna lie to you: yes, there will be blowback. No matter what you do, there will be blowback.

  1. If you tell your kid to comply, you’re teaching them to comply with the state out of fear.


  2. If you tell them to lie when they answer, that data will follow them around the rest of their lives, and it won’t even be true. None of us has has any idea how it may be used in the future, so don’t try to “game” the system.


  3. If you tell your kid to say no, and tell the teacher and school you’ve opted them out of all surveys, even if it’s true, they will still pressure you and your child to comply, and may even ignore your opt-out entirely and have the *teacher* fill it out for your kid to get around the opt-out.

The only way they’re denied your child’s data is if you leave the system, but even then, you have to be on guard about what you do next. Some so-called “homeschool” or “e-learning” platforms not only collect similar data, they share it with the gov’t, so you must read the fine-print. Data is worth more than gold right now, and your child’s data is the most valuable kind because it’s being used for research and marketing purposes right now, by state and private actors, often working together.

That said, if you leave, at minimum, the state won’t have legal possession of your child all day, for nine months of the year, and you will have a much *easier* time keeping the data-vampires away.

The blowback of saying no, and threatening to sue is worth risking when compared to the risk of compliance. Teaching a child to be compliant out of fear of the state is NOT something you want to do. The blowback on you personally will not be pretty someday. Either they’ll become what the state wants (a predictable, compliant little cog), or they won’t, and they’ll despise you for selling them out to a system that seeks to control their lives.

There is gray area in the middle, where your child complies, but understands doesn’t blame you, but do you want to count on your child landing there? Don’t forget, these surveys aren’t one-offs. They will be done again and again because they serve a dual purpose: first, they collect the data, and second, they get your children accustomed to having their personal boundaries violated, and their trust-bonds with you questioned.

My advice, clearly, is don’t leave any of this up to chance. The odds are not in their favor, or yours.

Resources to learn more about SEL and the agenda behind data collection:


  1. SEL Video Playlist at The Reason We Learn
  2. “WTF is SEL” Episode – New Discourses Podcast
  3. SEL Forum at The Reason We Learn
  4. Courage is a Habit (includes opt-out forms, please read all disclaimers *carefully*)
  5. Jennifer McWilliams Consulting


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