Governor Sununu announced in a press conference that New Hampshire would receive a Preschool Development grant from the federal government.

This is an initiative coming to New Hampshire that involves tracking personal information on your children from birth to the age of 20 years old.

Spark NH has been pushing a political agenda for more access to early childhood education in spite of studies that show negative behavior issues in young children the earlier they are sent to school. 

For instance, in The Atlantic, “The New Pre-School Is Crushing Kids” they show how the new Pre-School is based on the Pedagogy and curricula is in response to the “Common Core State Standards Initiative kindergarten guidelines.” They go on to talk about the damaging impact that this initiative has had on our youngest learners. Unfortunately none of this has been addressed by Governor Sununu or Spark NH.   

In this article titled “New Study Shows Why Kids Need Parents, Not State-Run Preschool” Dr. Karen Effrem MD, notes that this may actually be “academically and emotionally harmful” to young children. Dr. Effrem offers additional factors that were not considered in some of the pro-preschool studies that have been cited in research. For instance, do long-term impacts that improve outcomes come from pre-school as suggested or when parents are at home helping to raise their children? Dr. Effrem points to these important factors when analyzing the data.

Effrem says, “….. the preponderance of research shows that growing up in stable two-parent families is the key factor for lifetime success and the elimination of the achievement gap, not the existence or structure of the preschool program.”

So what does this mean for New Hampshire now that an abundance of federal dollars will push more early childhood education in New Hampshire?

The new software, Waterford UPSTART that parents will be using, raises many concerns when it comes to student privacy.

Waterford will be one of the vendors providing a pre-school options for parents.  One of the the biggest concerns by privacy experts is the data that will be collected on these young children and, their families.

Waterford’s privacy policy indicates that they will take the personal information you provide to them, gather additional data on you and your family and then build a profile. What happens if there is ever a breach? Do they ever destroy the data? What happens if they are ever bought out by another vendor? What happens to your personal information on file?

They will use the data for improving your experience with their products. Much of this looks like market research but there is nothing about compensating you for your personal information.  Shouldn’t the subjects at least be compensated?

Within their privacy policy, which doesn’t sound so private as you read through it, they say they collect : 

social and contact information (e.g., address, email, phone number, geographical information (i.e. your location down to the city level) in order to map usage trends; basic technical data including your operating system, browser, network, and device type (desktop, tablet, or mobile phone) in order to optimize our Digital Media and your user experience; usage data including assessment scores, curriculum progress, usage time activity star and end time, historical sessions, and time to load; and IP address in order to determine the frequency with which our visitors look at various parts of our sites and to administer our Digital Media.  The IP address is also used to gather broad demographic information such as geographic distribution of our visitors and may be used to allow us to provide goods and services appropriate to your location of residence.

It sounds like they have products to sell you in the future. But shouldn’t any program used on behalf of the State focus on privacy protections and, compensation for your private data? Is this to benefit children or the software vendors who profit off of these grants?

They also say:
we may combine the Personal Information that you give us with publicly available information and information we receive from, or cross-reference with, our technical analysts, data analysts, administrators, education providers, and others.
They are going to search for more personal information on you in order to build a profile on you and your family.  I wonder how many parents who sign up for this realize that this vendor was given the green light by State officials for all of this when they contracted with Waterford?

Spark NH has been involved in pushing early childhood education in New Hampshire for years.  Pre-school and early childhood education has changed over the years.  When many of us sent our kids to pre-school, it was fun for children, offered them a chance to socialize and, never involved a massive amount of data collection in order to profit vendors. Yet if you read through Spark NH’s “NH Early Childhood Education Data System Blueprint and Recommendations” it’s full of information on the data that will be gathered on children and their families.

So why is all of this data collection necessary and, what are the risks?   First of all, all of this data housed by a vendor runs the risk of data-breaches which you may never know about. Waterford mentions that they do not sell the data; however, due to the federal restrictions on student privacy that were gutted during the Obama administration, data can be shared with just about anyone who asks, as long as they say they are in someway associated with researching education.  Within the privacy statement by this vendor, they claim they are also researching the effectiveness of their product. This can be done without parental knowledge or consent.

Within Waterford’s policy there is a provision that allows parents to opt out of all of their data-collection.  Parents would be wise to utilize that clause.

There is plenty of evidence that suggests harmful effects on children who are pushed into formalized education too early. In New Hampshire we had to pass legislation to force kindergarten classes back towards more play because the impact of developmentally inappropriate standards have been causing stress and anxiety on our youngest learners.

This new federal initiative pushes more kids into an education system that has moved away from fun, playtime, and socializing to one that is focused on test scores for toddlers. How else will they measure progress?

This doesn’t appear to help young children in any way at all.  The education system would have to be reformed back to the old system when parents could have confidence in the pre-school they chose for their kids.

There is more to all of this and, involves Wall Street investors realizing a return on their investments in Social Impact Bonds. The data must be gathered in an effort to show progress on social issues like early childhood education.  The data and, the push for a more academic setting for toddlers has an end goal: PROFIT for INVESTORS.

When you realize who this serves (and it’s not the youngest children) then you can wade through the propaganda you are fed on why early childhood education is important.

Ann Marie Banfield works as a parental rights advocate in New Hampshire.  She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can contact her at: