Archive for January 2015

The Blast Radius of Proposed New “No Child Left Behind” Bill   36 comments

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Senator “Let’s-Don’t-Talk-About-Common-Core” LaMar Alexander  has proposed a bill to amend  ESEA (No Child Left Behind Act) in order “to restore freedom”. The bill is called the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.

I read the 387-pager after I learned that education experts, slated to testify against the bill, had abruptly been dismissed and were told that the bill had been “fast-tracked,” so there wouldn’t be time for them to speak.  —No time to hear testimony and debate about a historic, child-impacting bill?

I read this bill with these six facts and questions in mind:

Fact 1. There’s a  de facto federal database composed of fifty individual databases with interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems.   These  feed on the federal school testing/data collecting system, and feed different federal databases and their powerful branches.  This clearly violates “consent of the governed” because nobody can opt out.

QUESTION 1:  Would LaMar’s bill restore “consent of the governed” to education and to student data mining?

Fact 2. There’s a federal testing system comprised of Common Core aligned, synchronized testing partnerships: PARCC, SBAC, and AIR.  This violates Constitutional separation of powers since the federal government has no business in state-directed educational affairs such as testing.

QUESTION 2: Would LaMar’s bill restore separation of powers and deny federal supervision of school tests?

Fact 3. There’s a corporate cartel of educational technology and text sellers  (Pearson Inc, partnered with Gates/Microsoft, etc) advising the federal testing system.  This violates the Constitutional principle of agency; individuals and states are coerced to use certain corporations’ products with federal approval.

QUESTION 3: Would LaMar’s bill restore a diverse exchange of academic ideas to the American textbook and technology market?

Fact 4.  The corporate cartel  finances the private groups that created and copyrighted the common education and the common data tags  programs.  Federal approval of such financing and implementation is clear by the official partnering of the U.S. Dept. of Education with the private creator-copyrighter groups.   That violates consent of the governed, too.

QUESTION 4: Would LaMar’s bill create fairness and freedom for non-Common Core aligned education providers? 

Fact 5.  Because Common Core standards are copyrighted, states (voters, teachers, you and I) don’t get to vote on them.  There’s no amendment process for any state to alter Common Core Standards nor the Common Education Data System (CEDS).  Federal promotion and partnershipping with those who copyrighted nonamendable standards, violates states’ rights and consent of the governed.

QUESTION 5: Would LaMar’s bill move us away from these chokehold national standards and restore individual agency?

Fact 6. Both Republican and Democratic politicians are hacking at the limbs of the Constitution openly, aiming to phase out the authority of the states  and of parents regarding educational authority, privacy and other issues.  Aiming to “phase out the authority of states” is blatantly unconstitutional.

QUESTION 6: Would LaMar’s bill stop the Department of Education’s agenda to “phase out state authority”?

Now, to the bill.

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I knew from page one that this was going to be a big, fat two-tongued document because the bill’s purpose statement:  “to restore freedom” conflicts with its own title: “The Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.

This bill by its title and throughout its text cements the Common Core Initiative into federal law without once using the term “Common Core”. How?

Did you know that the phrase College and Career Ready has been repeatedly, federally and corporationally defined in multiple places as only Common Core. (See College and Career Ready definition: the Dept. of Education defines college and career ready standards as “standards common to a significant number of states.”  There is one thing that meets that definition.  Anytime you see “college and career ready,” run; it equals only the Common Core.

Can a bill claim to restore freedom while it promotes the exact, synonymous term that takes freedom in education away?

 

 

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On page three I found red flag #2:   “Close the achievement gap between high and low performing children“.  It’s another way of saying “everyone has to be the same at any cost– even at the price of slowing or dumbing down high achievers.”  Posing as fairness, it’s precisely the opposite, as nonsensical as the Handicapper General in Harrison Bergeron.  ( The funny, tragic short story of Harrison Bergeron is online if you haven’t read it.)

The bill explains how money must be allocated to ensure that the achievement gap-closing happens.  The Harrison Bergeron-ian “fairness” will be enforced with (our) tax dollars in federally set ways.

On page 8 we learn:  States will have to create a peer review board with the purpose of promoting “effective implementation of the challenging State academic standards“.  A mandated review board will promote implementation of Common Core, the very thing so many hope to eradicate.  Note the slickness:  later on the same page, it says:  “with the goal of supporting State- and local-led innovation”.  It’s pleasant sounding, but it’s a lie; one can’t support local innovation while implementing centrally controlled, Common Core standards on a federally mandated review board.

I already don’t want to read the rest of the 379 pages.  I’m only on page 8.

Next is a section called “State Plan Determination, Demonstration and Revision” which makes me wonder: why should states demonstrate to the federal government, when education is not in federal jurisdiction?  (Calling for “accountability” without authority to make that call should always raise eyebrows. I’m envisioning Emperor Arne being fed grapes while the Constitution is being used as bird cage liner.) This gets worse when the bill says that the Secretary of Education can decline to approve a State plan  (pages 8 and 9) and that the Secretary of Education would withhold funds from states who don’t comply. (page 12)   This is clearly out of harmony with the bill’s stated purpose “to restore freedom” as well as being out of harmony with the U.S. Constitution.

Page 13:  The same standards have to be used throughout the entire state.  They have to be aligned with state college standards.  (They can’t be lower, but they can’t be any higher, either, than the worst of any state college.  They can’t align with any unusually high private university standards.) This control freakishness –and this obvious dumbing down, may succeed in closing that achievement gap but only by harming high achievers, it seems to me.

Page 16:  In complete contradiction to pages 8 and 9, this section says that the Secretary has no authority to supervise or direct state standards.

Page 17:  Here we go with the assessments.  Every state must use standardized tests aligned to the college-and-career-ready standards (Common).

Page 20:  Here we go with the data collecting:  tests must “produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports… include information regarding achievement on assessments… provided…  in an understandable and uniform format” [meaning, I am sure: Common Educational Data Standards and SIF interoperability formats, which preclude strong privacy protection].

The data collected must be disaggregated, says the bill, by state and by school using these factors:  gender, economic status, race, ethnicity, English proficiency, disability, migratory status, etc., but will not be personally identifiable.  (Hmm.  On page 20 they just said tests must report on “individual interpretive, descriptive and diagnostic reports.” How is that not personally identifiable?)

On page 34 I’m troubled by this:  “achievement gaps between each category of students described“.  So they will divide and label student achievement groups by race, by gender, by ability, by economic status, etc. to further identify groups.

On page 35 the bill identifies schools that must be “turned around”.

On page 37 the state assures the federal government that it will participate in the NAEP test for 4th and 8th graders.

On page 39 the bill mandates uniform state report cards.

On page 54 the “Local Educational Agency Plan” mandates identifying students and identifying achievement gaps.  The plan also funds HeadStart or other government preschools.

Page 66 tells states how they have to spend any unused money.

Page 89 gives priority to low achievers.

Page 92-96 discusses private schools and how Title I funds will follow the low income child.  Where funding goes, strings are attached and mandates (i.e., data mining and government tests) follow.  Title I funds  look like the way Common Core aims to infiltrate charter schools and private schools.

Page 99:  Grants for Common Tests:  The Secretary of Education will give grants to pay for tests and standards, if the states are working in partnership with other states.

Page 101:  Summative, interim and formative tests will be developed or improved.  (More Common Core testing, more frequently, and more in disguise–as practice or as assignments, rather than traditional end of the year summative tests.)

Page 111:  “At risk” students will be indentified, intervened, and reported.

Page 117:  If there is failure to reach consensus, the Secretary of Education is empowered to act on his own with the “alternative process” that “if Secretary determines that a negotiated rulemaking process is unnecessary...” he simply tells Congress (not asks, tells) –and then he does his own thing, allowing for public comment afterward, and then, finally, makes it an official regulation.   I hope people are reading this.

Page 135:  Here the states are told the conditions by which they will make subgrants to schools and to teachers.

Page 145:  This fulfils Arne Duncan’s dream of replacing family with school as the centerpiece of life and community,  “providing programs that…extend the school day, school week, or school year calendar.”   Remember what the Secretary Duncan said in his Charlie Rose interview?  This is his one minute video:

Page 153:  “Secretary may waive” requirements.  So this may be a Congressionally vetted law, but it’s more of a suggestion than a hard and fast law, always subject to the whims of the Secretary.  This is repeated on page 224:  “The Secretary may waive any statutory or regulatory requirement… with respect to charter schools.. if.. Secretary determines that granting such a waiver will promote the purposes...”

Page 163:  Grant recipients must provide data to the federal Secretary of Education.

Page 226:  On Charter Schools:  “support the opening of… replication of… charter schools… expansion of high quality charter schools”.

Page 229:  “A description of how the State will actively monitor and hold authorized public chartering agencies accountable… including… revoking the authority of an authorized chartering agency based on the performance of the charter school… in areas of student achievement… and compliance”.

Page 249:  The Secretary of Education can take money out of the charter school’s reserve account if the grant wasn’t used in “carrying out the purposes” of the Secretary.

[On and on and on the bill rambles about charter school expansion and federal controls on the charter schools.  Endless pages are devoted to charter schools.  Why the increased interest of the federal government in supporting charter schools?  Because charter schools don’t have elected school boards.  The ruling bodies of charter schools are appointed, not elected.  In some places, philanthropists and huge corporations are administering charter schools –with zero accountability to any parent or any voter.  This is education without representation!  This is why the Obama Administration is pushing to identify and “turn around” “low performing” public schools and turn them into voter-untouchable institutions of the cartels and governments who benefit from that kind of power.]  I happen to have one child who attends a charter school and I know from personal experience that the board is under no obligation to listen to any parent, and no parent can vote a board member out.  You’re just lucky if the board happens to be made of people with whom you share values and goals for children.]

Page 268 talks about using magnet schools to desegregate “students of different racial backgrounds”.  I don’t agree with redistribution by government force of anything– not money, not teachers, not not principals, not standards, and not students of different races.   But the Department of education does.

Page 276 “State Innovation and Flexibility“: think about the way that title rations liberty.  What would the founding fathers say about the federal government creating a document with a section heading titled like that?  States are allowed to have some innovation?  Some flexibility?  Those are sub-particles of a rationed freedom, not freedom at all.

Page 297: “Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native Education” – This part has me confused.  Someone please comment below if you understand it.  Why would the federal government spend pages and pages and pages outlining different rules for these specific minority groups?  Not just a few— a LOT of pages.

Page 369:  “Participation by private school children and teachers” – By definition, private school children and their teachers are to be left completely alone by the government; that’s what private means.    Why is this federal law taking the effort and time to mention them?  If, according to page 92, the Title One funds follow the private school child to his/her school, then the government will be taking reports, data mining, and putting out mandates as well.

The answer to each of my six questions, from the top,  is “no”.

The stated purpose of the bill is “to restore freedom”.  Does this happen? No.

The bill –without even using the term “Common Core” a single time, works to cement Common Core.  It supports more common tests and emboldens the collectors of both academic and nonacademic personal student data (without parental consent), will intrude on private schools; and decreases representative school decision making by replacing a large number of public schools with no-elected-board, no-vote-allowed, charter schools; all under the banner of equitably meeting student needs and “closing an achievement gap.”

Please do something positive:  tell your senators and reps to help push an actual freedom-granting bill in education.

I learned with gratitude today from Utah’s Mia Love  that she is working with Rep. Joe Wilson on a bill “to allow states to opt out of Common Core without being penalized.”  Support Mia Love.  Write to her.  Rep. Wilson, too.  Please call other Congressmen and ask them to work with her and support her.

David Vitters’ bill, too,  sounds a thousand times more honest than Alexander’s ESEA “Every Child College and Career Ready Act of 2015”.

Vitters’ bill (S73) is “A bill to prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or coercing States to adopt the Common Core State Standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.”  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s73 )

—But LaMar Alexander’s ESEA?  No.

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Michelle Malkin: Parents, Refuse Common Core Tests   14 comments

By Michelle Malkin

Posted with permission from Michelle Malkin; also published at National Review Online. 

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Bureaucrats and big business can’t make you let your kids take their exams.

This is National School Choice Week, but I want to talk about parents’ school choice.  Moms and Dads, you have the inherent right and responsibility to protect your children. You can choose to refuse the top-down Common Core racket of costly standardized tests of dubious academic value, reliability and validity.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’m reminding you of your right to choose because the spring season of testing tyranny is about to hit the fan. Do you object to the time being taken away from your kids’ classroom learning? Are you alarmed by the intrusive data-sharing and data-mining enabled by assessment-driven special interests? Are you opposed to the usurpation of local control by corporate testing giants and federal lobbyists?

You are not alone, although the testing racketeers are doing everything they can to marginalize you. In Maryland, a mom of a nine-year-old special-needs student is suing her Frederick County school district to assert her parental prerogative. Cindy Rose writes that her school district “says the law requires our children be tested, but could not point to a specific law or regulation” forcing her child to take Common Core–tied tests. Rose’s pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 4.

The vigilant mom warns parents nationwide: “While we are being treated like serfs of the State, Pearson publishing is raking in billions off our children.” And she is not going to just lie down and surrender because some bloviating suits told her “it’s the law.”

Pearson, as I’ve reported extensively, is the multibillion-dollar educational-publishing and educational-testing conglomerate — not to mention a chief corporate sponsor of Jeb Bush’s Fed Ed ventures — that snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of so-called “PARCC” tests.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers raked in $186 million through the federal Race to the Top program to develop the nationalized tests “aligned” to the Common Core standards developed in Beltway backrooms.

As more families, administrators, and teachers realized the classroom and cost burdens that the guinea-pig field-testing scheme would impose, they pressured their states to withdraw. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of states actively signed up for PARCC dropped from 24 (plus the District of Columbia) to ten (plus D.C.). Education researcher Mercedes Schneider reports that the remaining ten are Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

State legislators and state education boards in Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, South Carolina, and Alabama have withdrawn from the other federally funded testing consortium, the $180 million tax-subsidized Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which administered field tests last spring to 3 million students in 23 states.

In New Jersey, the parental opt-out movement is “exploding,” according to activist Jean McTavish. Many superintendents have conceded that “they can’t force a student to take a test,” NJ.com reports.

Last week, Missouri withdrew from PARCC, while parents, administrators, and the school board of the Chicago public schools spurned PARCC in the majority of their 600 schools.

In California, the Pacific Justice Institute offers a privacy-protection opt-out form for parents to submit to school districts at pacificjustice.org. PJI head Brad Dacus advises families to send the notices as certified letters if they get ignored. Then, be prepared to go to court. PJI will help. The Thomas More Law Center in Michigan also offers a student-privacy opt-out form at thomasmore.org.

Don’t let the bureaucratic smokescreens fool you. A federal No Child Left Behind mandate on states to administer assessments is not a mandate on you and your kids to submit to the testing diktats. And the absence of an opt-out law or regulation is not a prohibition on your choice to refuse.

Here in Colorado, the state board of education voted this month to allow districts to opt out of PARCC testing. Parents and activists continue to pressure a state task force — packed with Gates Foundation and edu-tech special-interest-conflicted members — to reduce the testing burden statewide. For those who don’t live in PARCC-waivered districts, it’s important to know your rights and know the spin.

In Colorado Springs, where I have a high-schooler whose district will sacrifice a total of six full academic days for PARCC testing this spring, parents are calling the testing drones’ bluff about losing their accreditation and funding.

“The Colorado Department of Education is threatening schools to ensure that 95 percent of students take these tests,” an El Paso County parents’ watch group reports.

Be assured that MANY parents across Colorado — FAR ABOVE 5 percent in many schools — are refusing the tests, and not one school yet is facing the loss of accreditation, funding, etc. As long as schools can show that they gave a “good faith attempt to get 95 percent to test, they can appeal a loss of accreditation” due to parental refusals to test.

You also have the power to exercise a parental nuclear option: If edu-bullies play hardball and oppose your right to refuse, tell them you’ll have your kid take the test and intentionally answer every question wrong — and that you’ll advise every parent you know to tell their kids to do the same. How’s that for accountability?

Be prepared to push back against threats and ostracism. Find strength in numbers. And always remember: You are your kids’ primary educational provider.

 

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Thank you, Michelle Malkin.

Utah parents:  SAGE testing is Common Core testing.  End of the year SAGE/A.I.R. tests must (by state mandate) be given by schools, but there’s no law that says students or parents have to sit for them.  In fact, by several laws, parents hold the legal authority and freedom to opt out of these tests and anything that the parent does not feel good about.  I advise us to consider opting out of all SAGE related testing and data collections: mid-year (interim) and the SAGE formative tests that Common Core/SAGE “offers” schools.  Opt out of all of it.  Politely, kindly, firmly.

It is time to take a stand against the cartels and politicians who are using our tax dollars and our legislators to make our children their unpaid and disrespected guinea pigs.  It is time to say, politely, “no way” to these secretive, centrally-managed, unviewable, unpiloted  tests that are pushing experimental and controversial academic standards.

Just say no.  Here’s an opt out form.   Or write your own.  You are the parent.  You are the legal authority.  Remember, the  state recognizes that:

(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and

(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.

Dr. Evers: Common Core Blocks Exit and Voice   10 comments

Dr. Evers’ article is published here with permission from the author.  It was also published at Education Week this  month.

 

THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS’ UNDEMOCRATIC PUSH

by Dr. Williamson M. Evers

“They forgot that the desire for a voice, the desire for political action, can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of nowhere to exit to. They  forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for alternatives and escape routes. Alternatives to the national common-core-aligned tests have arisen.”

One of the most influential books in social science in the last 50 years is economist Albert O. Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.

In this pivotal 1970 book, Hirschman discusses how individuals react when services they rely on deteriorate. The basic responses available to us are “exit” and “voice,” Hirschman points out, where exit means turning to a different provider or leaving the area, and voice means political participation.

We tend to think of these responses as stark alternatives. Hirschman, as a social scientist, wanted us to consider the interplay between them.

Exit usually has lower costs than voice for the individual. With exit, you can avoid the long slog of politics and simply turn to someone else or move somewhere else.

But there is a limiting case: Exit can have high costs when individuals are loyal to institutions—thus the third component in Hirschman’s trio of exit, voice, and loyalty.

In the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States, he found Americans intensely loyal to their local schools. Americans saw schools as extensions of their families and neighborhoods. They viewed public schools as akin to voluntarily supported charities and as part of what social scientists today call civil society.

Tocqueville described township school committees that were deeply rooted in their local communities. State control of local public education took the form of an annual report sent by the township committee to the state capital. There was no national control.

Today, Americans retain much of the sentiment about local schools they had in Tocqueville’s day. But, increasingly, parents and taxpayers view the public schools as an unresponsive bureaucracy carrying out edicts from distant capitals. Today, we are dealing with a deteriorating situation in a declining institution, namely widespread ineffective instruction in the public schools.

The Common Core State Standards have come to the fore precisely at a time when civically active individuals care much more than they usually do about exit, voice, and loyalty. But the common core has denied voice and tried to block exit.

The common core’s designers have taken the existing bureaucracy and increased its centralization and uniformity. By creating the common-core content standards behind closed doors, the authors increased the alienation of the public from schools as institutions worthy of loyalty. The general public had no voice in creating or adopting the common core.

The other approach in times of a deteriorating public service is offering better exit options. But the common core’s proponents have created an almost inescapable national cartel.

There has long been a monopoly problem in public education, which was why economist Milton Friedman called for opportunity scholarships (also known as vouchers) to create a powerful exit option. But even in the absence of opportunity scholarships and charter schools, we had some exit options in the past because of competitive federalism, meaning horizontal competition among jurisdictions.

Economist Caroline Hoxby studied metropolitan areas with many school districts (like Boston) and metropolitan areas contained within one large district (like Miami or Los Angeles). She found that student performance is better in areas with competing multiple districts, where parents at the same income level can move to another locality, in search of a better education.

We have also seen competitive federalism work in education at the interstate level. Back in the 1950s, education in Mississippi and North Carolina performed at the same low level. North Carolina tried a number of educational experiments and moved ahead of Mississippi. Likewise, Massachusetts moved up over the years from mediocre to stellar.

The common core’s promoters are endeavoring to suppress competitive federalism. The common core’s rules and its curriculum guidance are the governing rules of a cartel. The common core’s promoters and their federal facilitators wanted a cartel that would override competitive federalism and shut down the curriculum alternatives that federalism would allow.

The new common-core-aligned tests, whose development was supported with federal funds, function to police the cartel. All long-lasting cartels must have a mechanism for policing and punishing those seen as shirkers and chiselers, or, in other words, those who want to escape the cartel’s strictures or who want increased flexibility so they can succeed.

The new leadership of the College Board by David Coleman, one of the common core’s chief architects, is being used to corral Catholic schools, other private schools, and home-schooling parents into the cartel. The proponents of the common core have now established a clearinghouse for authorized teaching materials to try to close off any remaining possible avenue of escaping the cartel.

What was the rationale for the common core? The name given to the Obama administration’s signature school reform effort, the Race to the Top program, promotes the idea that the federal government needs to step in and lead a race. Central to this rhetoric is the idea that state performance standards were already on a downward slide and that, without nationalization, standards would inexorably continue on a “race to the bottom.”

I would disagree. While providers of public education certainly face the temptation to do what might look like taking the easy way out by letting academic standards decline, there is also countervailing pressure in the direction of higher standards.

If state policymakers and education officials let content standards slip, low standards will damage a state’s reputation for having a trained workforce. Such a drop in standards will even damage the policymakers’ own reputations.

In 2007, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looked empirically at state performance standards over time in a study called “The Proficiency Illusion.” The study showed that, while states had a variety of performance standards (as would be expected in a federal system), the supposed “race to the bottom” was not happening. The proponents of the common core are wrong in their claims that state performance standards were inevitably on a downward slide.

The common core, in fact, provided relief from competitive pressure from other states. Sonny Perdue, the governor of Georgia at the time that the common core was created (the initiative was launched in 2009, and the standards were released in 2010), did not like it when the low-performing students of his state were compared with students in other states with standards different from Georgia’s. He became the lead governor in bringing the National Governors Association into the national standards effort. Nationalizing standards and tests eliminated them as differentiated school reform instruments that could be used by states in competition over educational attainment among the states.

The common core undermines citizens’ exit option and competitive federalism. It was designed to do so. It likewise evades and negates the voice option. But the makers of this malign utopia have forgotten a few things.

They forgot that the desire for a voice, the desire for political action, can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of nowhere to exit to. They forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for alternatives and escape routes. Alternatives to the national common-core-aligned tests have arisen. States are dropping these national tests. States are also struggling to escape the common-core cartel itself. Parents are opting out of common-core testing.

By trying to block exit and voice, the designers and proponents of the Common Core State Standards have caused blowback: A large parent-, teacher-, and community-based movement has arisen to oppose the common core and its national tests.

 

John Taylor Gatto: Why Public Education Cripples Our Kids   6 comments

This is going to be short.  I’m in a rush.  But I really want to share it.

 

John Taylor Gatto was a veteran teacher (an award-winning teacher) before he became an author and lecturer.  I can’t believe I never heard of him in all my years as a teacher. But I’m reading him now.

In John Taylor Gatto’s “Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why,” he calls schools “virtual factories of childishness” –places where children are taught to be immature, passive, bored, boring and unintellectual.  Gatto quotes H.L. Mencken, who said that the aim of public schools was not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. . . . Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim.. . is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.

Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why” brings up important historical, controversial, philosophical issues; I wonder (rhetorically) :  why didn’t anyone introduce me to the writings of Gatto when I was in my teacher education program?

 

Gatto cites the (mostly horrifying) writings and doings of James Bryant Conant, Alexander Inglis, and others who promoted the changes to U.S. education many, many years ago and who helped give birth to what we have today: “not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers… a  great number of industrial titans came to recognize the enormous profits to be had by cultivating and tending just such a herd via public education,” –the notion that it’s in the best interests of big business as well as big government to keep the masses uniform, unintellectual, and dependent.

Doesn’t that immediately bring to your mind the  more recent speech of Common Core-financier Bill Gates, in which Gates refers to schools, students, and taxpayers as the “uniform customer base”?  Watch that one minute clip.

In his conclusion, Gatto writes:

“Now for the good news… School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they’ll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology – all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don’t let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a preteen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there’s no telling what your own kids could do. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”

Read the rest here.

Utah’s Fight for Student Data Privacy is On   4 comments

 

Sharing my letter, send out today.

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Dear [State School] Board,

I am gravely concerned about the “emergency vote” that was taken by the board last month, which decreased the amount of student data privacy protections that were previously in place, in order to cater to corporate education vendors, and in order to align with unlawful federal regulatory changes to federal FERPA– which harmed parental rights and student privacy, giving third party vendors unwarranted trust and access to student data.  Where were the student advocates and parent testifiers, when the corporate testifiers had their day to speak and to influence this board?
http://www.utah.gov/pmn/files/135221.pdf
I request that the “emergency vote” be immediately dismissed as unethical and unlawful, because it aligns exactly with the unethical and unlawful alterations that the Dept. of Education has made to family privacy rights without Congressional approval.  I request that a deep and probing study be taken on this weighty issue prior to a vote.  Allowing vendors this easy data-access aligns with the abuses of the Department of Education, and are not in harmony with vital principles of individual rights, family rights, and freedom from essentially handing oversight of education and student records to unelected vendors.
Christel Swasey
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(I’ll keep you posted.)
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anderegg

Utah Rep. Jake Anderegg

 

 

Why I wrote the letter?

I compared the student privacy protection bill  that Utah Representative Jake Anderegg is running right now, with the summary of a recent public hearing –in which corporate education vendors pushed for decreased student privacy and for increased student data sharing.  I realized that the fight is truly going on right now in Utah.  Most people don’t know the fight is on; it doesn’t make news headlines, though it should.  So few people speaking up.  And the board assumes it’s okay with all of us to keep loosening and loosening student data protections.

Should students and families maintain individual rights over student data privacy or not?  

Which side are you on?

Have we as an informed electorate, as neighbors, and families and friends, discussed what happens when students and families do  –or do not– have data privacy protection?  These are weighty matters with long term consequences.

The board’s having had a seemingly quick and one-sided “hearing” followed by an “emergency vote” seems hasty and even dangerous.

Let’s think and talk and debate thoroughly before we automatically align with corporate agendas.  Let’s ask ourselves how these alignments and their possible unintended consequences may affect our children in the long term.

Both the bill and the summary report are wordy and  un-reader-friendly, true. But we can’t know what side to support if we don’t study it out. So here are the links and abbreviated screenshots –of the two sides– to get started.

Anderegg’s privacy protection bill  calls for increased privacy protections, particularly in reference to third party vendors:

anderegg bill

 

 

The corporate education vendors call for decreased privacy protections.  They say that the former provision that a school/district was to be the only entity authorized to collect and store school records is “overly restrictive and does not allow Third Party Ventors to collect and access records…. the rule does not reflect the actual practice”.

(If it does not reflect the actual practice, that is because federal agents have been unethically altering what Congress held the sole right to alter: Federal FERPA privacy law.  Do we in Utah want to align with federal abuses, in order to cater to education vendors?  Sure, the vendors testify that it’s a great idea.  It makes their businesses run better. But the board ought to place the needs and rights of students and their families above corporate education vendors.  Who is advocating for individual privacy rights for children at the corporate level? Nobody.  The businesses want that data, and they don’t want to be inconvenienced by parental or student rights.)

Here’s the link to that report (and the first two pages, screenshots).

 

 

 

state report on third party data sharing

 

screenshot two of utah report data

Here’s my “explain it to a fourth grader” summary of the situation:   “When the government lets business people run the schools, the business people want to store records of what students do, so the government says OK.  It is not good because the voters lose power over their rights.  Voters can change the laws of government and can un-elect those we’ve elected to govern schools, but we cannot influence what business people do nor who gets to run businesses, by our vote.  We have no control over them.  That gives them control over us and over our records/privacy rights.  We need to keep control of ourselves,  our children, and our privacy rights.  We should not give business people power over our schools, no matter how nice they are.

What Data is Collected From Kindergarteners Without Parental Consent?   23 comments

If a parent wants psychologists, researchers, doctors or businessmen studying his/her child, and the parents gives written consent, I have no problem with that.

I do have a very big problem with researchers, businessmen, politicians and others studying children without parental consent or knowledge.  That’s 1984-style creepy.  That’s government believing it’s bigger and more valid than those who created it.

The NCES, also known as the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal branch, is so hungry for data on kindergarteners (and on everyone else, for that matter, that it worries me.  People aren’t aware of what NCES is aiming to do.  Nobody’s fighting in a meaningful way to protect children’s and family privacy rights.  Federal FERPA laws that were supposed to protect student and family rights were shredded a few years ago.  Data is the new oil, the new gold, those who want the data are desperate to get it, and they are getting it.

What are they getting?

If you click on this link, you will find a pdf with 187 PAGES of data points that NCES plans to collect on our kindergarteners.  That’s not 187 points of data, but 187 pages of points of data.  Medical data.  Home data.  Racial data.  Academic data.  Behavioral data.  Data on children’s weight, household marriages,  poverty levels, cohabiations, occupations, motivation levels, game playing, number of books in the home— everything.   Click on this link and see the PDF for the whole list.

Here’s a tiny sample:

190 TEACHER REPORT EXTERN PROB BEHAVIORS
194 X1 TEACHER REPORT INTERN PROB BEHAVIORS
200 X1 TEACHER REPORT ATTENTIONAL FOCUS
204 X1 TEACHER REPORT INHIBITORY CONTROL
226 X3 HEIGHT MEASUREMENT PRESENT
228 X3 WEIGHT MEASUREMENT PRESENT
230 X1 CHILD COMPOSITE BMI
302 X12 PARENT 1 EDUCATION LEVEL (IMPUTED)
305 X1 PARENT 1 EMPLOYMENT STATUS
307 X1 PARENT 1 OCCUPATION
309 X1 AVG PRESTIGE SCR FOR PAR 1 OCCUPATION (IMPUTED)
335 X1 NUMBER IN HOUSEHOLD AGED <18
338 X1 NUMBER IN HOUSEHOLD AGED 18+
345 X1 # HOURS SPENT IN NONPARENTAL CARE NOW
353 X2 INCOME CATEGORY (IMPUTED)
356 X12 POVERTY LEVEL
358 X2 ADULT’S FOOD SECURITY RAW SCORE
363 X4 ADULT’S FOOD SECURITY STATUS
368  CHILD’S FOOD SECURITY STATUS
374 X2 HOUSEHOLD FOOD SECURITY STATUS
380 X12 MOTHER MARRIED AT TIME OF BIRTH
387 X1 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SCHOOL (How would they get this data from a private school?)
457 F1 PARENT INTERVIEW DISPOSITION CODE
473 F1 PARENT INTERVIEW WORK AREA
521 F1 SCHOOL CENSUS TRACT CODE
525P1 HOME CENSUS TRACT CODE
585 C1 ACQ025 INTERRUPTION DURING ASSESSMENT
587 C1 ACQ035 DISRUPTIONS DURING ASSESSMENT
601 C1 ACQ075 CHILD’S MOTIVATION LEVEL
602 C1 ACQ080 CHILD’S COOPERATION
603 C1 ACQ085 CHILD’S ATTENTION LEVEL
1269 P1 FSQ200 CURRENT MARITAL STATUS
1316 P1 HEQ010A HOW OFTEN YOU TELL STORIES
1317 P1 HEQ010B HOW OFTEN YOU ALL SING SONGS
1318 P1 HEQ010C HOW OFTEN YOU HELP CHD DO ART
1319 P1 HEQ010D HOW OFTEN CHILD DOES CHORES
1320 P1 HEQ010E HOW OFTEN YOU ALL PLAY GAMES
1321 P1 HEQ010F HOW OFTEN YOU TALK ABT NATURE
1329 P1 HEQ040 HOW MANY BOOKS CHILD HAS
…These types of very personal questions keep going until 1332
1333 P1 CCQ010 NOW HAS CARE FROM RELATIVE
1334 P1 CCQ015 EVER HAD CARE FROM RELATIVE
1354 P1 CCQ085 # OF DAYS/WK OF REL CARE
1355 P1 CCQ090 # OF HRS/WK OF REL CARE
1356 P1 CCQ092 CHARGE FOR RELATIVE CARE
1451 P1 CHQ085 COMPLICATIONS TO BIRTH/DELIVRY
1470P1 CHQ095 EVER HAD EAR INFECTION
1471P1 CHQ096 EVER HAD EAR ACHE
1510P1 CHQ330 SCALE OF CHILDS HEALTH
1511 P1 SSQ010J KEEP WORKING TO FINISH
1516 P1 SSQ010X CREATIVE IN WORK OR PLAY
1519 P1 MHQ025B YEAR WHEN RESP-BIOPAR MARRIED (When parents were married)
1521 P1 MHQ035A MNTH RESBIOMOM-DAD START COHAB

So many times, ugly education and data reform sites/pages “disappear” from the internet after people start pointing them out.  So, in case that happens again, I have also copied and pasted (below) a list of restricted data that is now available from this link:   http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/licenses.asp  –and I’m going to screen shot and paste the link of the Kindergarten and First Grade data file, that led to this list, below.

Restricted-data Available

 

Individual Surveys

kindergarten data file

 

The sad fact seems to be that we, as a group of people, have so much confidence in other human beings that we do not search out for ourselves what is really going on, and we do not demand that our children’s data be protected.

We are in a state of blind self-security, trusting our children’s destinies to the hands of data-hungry strangers with reckless confidence.   We have to be smarter than this, more protective than this!

If you do not know why so much data sharing is a bad idea, please, for starters, read the book 1984.  It’s free.

If you want to study more about what is now actually being collected via schools’ State Longitudinal Database Systems, read the linked posts I’ve written previously here and here.

Videos: Maine Symposium to Stop Common Core   1 comment

No Common Core Maine‘s 2014 fall symposium about Common Core is filmed and archived on YouTube.

Friends have been emailing me clips, raving about this symposium, and I’m posting it before I’ve had a chance to watch very much of it.

One friend, who is a district school board member in Utah, wrote this about her favorite part, symposium film #4 with Dr. Peg Luksik:

The coup de grace is at 39:15: ‘Common Core isn’t just flawed in what they teach our children; it’s flawed in how they test our children. It makes it so that the results can match what the Dept of Education wants them to match. If I can manipulate where you succeed and where you fail, I can be sure that you are going to go into the Workforce place that I have chosen for you. Common Core Assessment system allows that manipulation to occur.’  Luksik goes into all the different measures that are supposed to be involved in creating accurate assessments, but, most importantly, how they are not being used in education.  She also addresses the issue of validity with NAEP and why our test scores are so low–we are making them ‘valid’ according to NAEP.  She decries setting the proficiency AFTER having taken the test.” 

Speakers at the Maine Symposium included Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Peg Luksik, Jamie Gass of Pioneer Institute, Mom Erin Tuttle, Maine State School Board Member Heidi Sampson, and more.  Enjoy!

 

13 Film Clips:

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