Archive for the ‘Arne Duncan, Common Core and the Witchery of Wordplay’ Category
Buried deep in a 2012 report on “Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics,” the US Department of Education states that one of the key applications of educational data mining is “user profiling” (page 25).
The paragraph says: “These application areas are (1) modeling of user knowledge, user behavior, and user experience; (2) user profiling; (3) modeling of key concepts in a domain and modeling a domain’s knowledge components, (4) and trend analysis.”
Later on, in Exhibit 1, we see a flow chart. It shows “student learning data” flowing into the “predictive model,” the “intervention engine” and then into the “adaptation engine.” Clearly, the goal is government-directed behavior modification following student psychological profiling.
This is sad, because “users” now include even babies, since the Department of Education has successfully pushed ESSA into law, with its “early childhood education” programs that are included in the citizen data mining venture.
The Educational Data Mining report of 2012 is not the only such report from the U.S. Department of Education. Related is its 2013 report, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance” which contained more of the same psychological data gathering goals.
The “Promoting Grit” report included pictures of biometric sensory devices: pressure mouse sensors, posture analysis seats, facial expression cameras, and wireless skin conductance sensors, which would mine student psychological elements, including “grit,” “tenacity,” “perseverance” and more.
In SETRA (the Strengthening Education Through Research Act, currently in the US House of Representatives, having somehow passed the Senate) we find that the federal research programs will be strengthened and enlarged so that more data, including “social and emotional learning” will be gathered for federal use.
Philosophical and constitutional questions need to be hotly debated by the House of Representatives. More importantly, these need discussion at the dinner table, by moms and dads and teachers and principals and school board members:
- Will American children grow up free– as self-governing, free agents, with intellectual and moral privacy and the accompanying power to soar outside any box, as well as the power to fail? How, if even their thoughts and beliefs are monitored and subjected to “intervention”?
- Do Americans want students to be profiled, centrally managed, and nudged in a predetermined, government-and-workforce approved direction –constantly monitored and told what to do? If so, what qualifies central planners to trump individuals’ and families’ desires?
- Does widespread societal faith in “experts” relegate personal privacy and real autonomy to historical artifact? Should personal data be studied and behavior “intervened” by unsupervised central planners? Will this really keep us “safe,” as cogs in a centrally managed, economy-focused collective? Do we want to be a government-branded herd, or free, individual, human beings?
Here come the practical questions for how all this profiling may pan out.
- If we allow government to keep psychological profiles (not just on students– since the P-20 Workforce Pipeline means preschool through workforce citizens get tagged) –then, what happens if a thirty year-old wants to buy a gun, and his background check comes back negatively because when he was in 5th grade, his data was interpreted to mean future depressed individual? And what if his 5th grade data was incorrect?
- What if “at-risk academically” is redefined and applied to a student for attending a private, religious, or home school?
- What if “mentally unstable” is applied to anyone who does not agree with what is being taught in school?
- What if “socially deviant” is applied to anyone who disagrees, or is bored with, collectivist groupthink and group work? –The “what if” list could be endless.
We don’t want to see any “what if”s come to pass. We can put proper protections in place. Legislators, write bills and voters, actively push to get them passed –laws that will deny researchers, school systems and governments access to psychologically profiling, via tests, curricula, and standards without informed, written consent.
The fact that “profiling’s already here” is no excuse. We can begin where we are, and take a stand today. It is true that our students are already being psychologically profiled, to some degree, by the government and schools, already: look at the math standard for Common Core that requires a student to be tagged for presence or absence of “perseverance”. That’s not about math; that’s about psychology and character.
The perseverance tag and others like it will certainly be on the SAGE (Common Core, CEDS aligned) tests; notably in Utah and Florida, which use tests created and scored by the behavioral research company AIR (American Institutes for Research).
For additional evidence of current psychological profiling, look at Utah’s “Student Strengths Inventory,” which gathers nonacademic data on high schoolers.
But none of that is any excuse.
If rain is leaking through a hole in the kitchen, that does not mean we can innocently stand by while someone pokes holes in our living room roof and the bedroom ceiling, and makes plans for the removal of the roof.
The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, said that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. To that I add, if governments and corporations were angels, no privacy protections would be necessary; student data would be consensually collected, analyzed, and used to bless the lives and enlarge the opportunities of every student. But men, governments, and corporations are not angels. That’s why We, the People, need to stop invasive bills like federal SETRA; it’s why we need to write and pass good, protective laws locally.
Take action today.
Write a letter. Make a phone call. Meet with a legislator. Pray with great faith; miracles of knowledge and understanding and miracles within political workings are needed, to awaken an asleep populace and to build up protections for our children’s minds, hearts, and freedoms.
At the #AboutTheChild conference in Houston last week, B&L Network speakers said that even in the middle of a struggle we might seem to be losing, we have great power and great hope.
Although America is seeing dangerous shifts in who can and who cannot amend tests, in who controls (and does not protect) children’s data; in who gets to redefine even babies’ “educations” as a collective-economy-purposed thing; while we see corporate and federal “central planners” ram initiatives without a vote to assume “stakeholder” rights over our little ones– even in this awful situation, we can defend children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy education; that is, time-tested, soul-enlarging, non-Common Core education.
I cannot do the conference justice briefly, yet I want to try. A few moments that stood out came from these speeches:
1 Troy Towns, an Alabama minister and political activist, spoke about the numbers of people who should be actively involved in the fight against Common Core and other false reforms. He retold the story of Gideon in the Old Testament. Not only did it not bother the Lord that Gideon was vastly outnumbered; the Lord told Gideon to reduce his numbers, by sending away all warriors who were fearful. Then the Lord instructed Gideon further, to send away all those who were not alert to the enemy while drinking at the stream. Reduced to 300 people, surrounded by countless armies, the Lord then led Gideon’s group to victory… It’s not about numbers. It’s not about who appears to be winning in the moment. It is about who is on the side of true and honorable principles.
2. Daisy Whisenant, Texas advisor in the Christian Educators Association International, a Christian teacher’s union, implored listeners to let teachers and students know the truth about “separation between Church and State”. That idea is designed to prevent governments from promoting one religion above another, while upholding all religions’ freedom of speech. It is not designed to shut down religious discussions. A teacher is a government employee, but a child is not. Nongovernmental citizens (students of all ages) may speak and write freely about their religious beliefs. For more information, visit CEAI.
3. Jason Hoyt, Florida radio personality and author, discussed what “Consent of the Governed” means. The concept is also the title of his book. (Click here to find the book Consent of the Governed. ) I read it on my trip home. It teaches the history of local, state, and federal grand juries, and outlines the disintegration of that constitutional authority, which serves –or should serve– as a fourth branch and a check on the other three branches. The book shows that if “We the People” reclaim proper controls of our grand juries, we can reclaim vital, lost political power –more effectively than if we rely only on elections as the means to enforce fair government.
4. Angelique Clark, a Las Vegas high school student, spoke about the stand she took and the fight that ensued as she founded a pro-life group for teen activists. When her application for a high school pro-life club was denied, Angelique fought for her First Amendment rights inside a school, with a lawsuit to the school district that finally allowed her to form the pro-life club. She won. Her story has been seen on Fox & Friends, On the Record with Greta, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, and elsewhere.
5. Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, author and researcher, a leader of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and of Education Liberty Watch, spoke about the amount of data being collected on every public school student in the nation without parental knowledge or consent; about the psychological and belief data-gathering goals outlined in the US Department of Education’s “Developing Grit, Tenacity and Persistance” Report; about the unfortunate, newly passed, Every Student Succeeds Act; and about the monster on the horizon, the “Strengthening Education Through Research Act“. Her presentation should be seen by every member of the U.S. Congress.
6. Dr. Peg Luksik, a former reform evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education, a lifelong teacher, speaker, and honoree by multiple U.S. Presidents, spoke about the idea of common standards. She asked the audience if there was such a thing as good standards, and answered her question: no. There is no such thing as a good set of standards because every child is so different. She has a child who is a math genius, who cannot do ballet. She has a daughter who is a ballet genius, who cannot do math. She asked: where would the proper, common standard be for those two children? The idea of top-down decision making for teachers and students is ridiculous. She said that years ago, “Outcome Based Education” was pushed on the nation, and was defeated by a handful of level-headed patriots. Common Core and its related initiatives are the same thing, repackaged. Those who would be central planners of all children’s lives must be defeated again.
7. Dr. Duke Pesta, an energetic literature professor and administrator at Freedom Project Academy, spoke about the devious history of the Common Core Initiative, up to its promoters’ most recent coup against liberty, the Every Student Succeeds Act. He emphasized the words of Arne Duncan about the Every Student Succeeds Act, and pointed out that even trusted Republican leadership betrayed liberty with ESSA. We must be smarter and faster in overturning the deceptions of this fight. (FYI, Utahns: rumor has it that Dr. Pesta will be speaking in Utah this April.)
8. Neil Mammen, a minister and activist at NoBlindFaith.com (author of 40 Days to a More Godly Nation and Jesus Is Involved in Politics: Why Aren’t You?) echoed the message given by Troy Towns (about Gideon and the numbers-of-warriors issue, above) as he spoke about the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. In the scene, when Westmoreland laments not having ten thousand more men to help them fight, the king responds:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (Read the whole speech.)
9. Joan Landes, a Utah therapist, crystallized the issue when she said that the problem with government initiatives like Common Core and its web of tests and controls is that it hurts human relationships. Her presentation about reversing Saul Alinsky’s evil tactics, and her idea of asking every concerned citizen to spend five minutes or five dollars as often as they can, were truly remarkable.
I spoke, too. The heart of my speech, “Reclaiming Parental Power” came from a realization I had a few nights before the conference, as I thought about the awful situation that is U.S. Education Reform today. As I wondered how we can keep going in the face of losing, losing, and losing (Common Core is still here; Common Education Standards and Longitudinal Databases are still here; the ESSA federal law makes things so much less free; and SETRA may soon make them even worse) –I had a clear thought: HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRADE PLACES WITH A MOM IN CHINA– or a mom in any socialist/communist nation, for that matter? You would have no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to publish, freedom to work to repeal bad laws. You hardly have freedom to think, in China. A lover of freedom living in China, loving her children, would give her arms or legs to have the opportunity to face the problems that we face. Arms and legs.
The glass will always be half full– never half empty– as long as there is a person left in America who remembers the words and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.
Freedom is always worth the fight.
Children will always be the reason.
This blog post is a partial, inadequate sampling that has not included many additional, wonderful speakers at the conference. Every speaker (see biographies and speaker list here) –was moving.
If you missed the conference and the livestream, you can still watch it as part of a package deal with B&L* Network by purchasing a B&L year membership here. I’m advertising it because:
The conference speakers were an inspiration, and their words need to be heard far and wide, as do the messages from United States Parents In Education (USPIE) which held a press conference as part of this conference, rolling out a campaign to #StopFedEd. Also, importantly, consider this: the conference organizer was Alabama homemaker and radio show host Diana Crews, who, with her sweet husband, a professional trucker, went into debt to make this conference happen. If nobody watches, she stays in debt. This was her sacrifice because she believes in making this issue About The Child. It’s not about the “global economy” or the “school to workforce pipeline” or about “human capital”. It is about the child.
To support B&L, click here.
* (If you want to know what B & L stands for– and I asked, and was so glad I did– it’s Bears and Lord; as in, Mama & Papa Bears and their Lord).
At this year’s Agency Based Education (ABE) conference, one speaker, Jakell Sullivan, presented the following remarkable research. Please watch and share.
Oak Norton, founder of ABE, shared this insight in his introduction to Jakell’s video:
“In the Old Testament we read of a curious story where “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chron. 21:1). David’s temptation caused him to look upon his people as human capital and as a result he brought a severe curse upon Israel. As a result, God took away a portion of David’s “capacity” to build or make war by offering him one of three curses. David chose the shortest curse, pestilence, which brought upon his kingdom a three day plague and killed 70,000 men.
Statewide longitudinal database systems and digital badging are the designated “numbering” systems used by the education system in America today. When Secretary Arne Duncan and others speak about human capital, they are literally engaging in an effort to control and direct the economic future of our nation. Instead of independent thinkers, we have “common” education standards nationwide, with national assessment, tracking, and a host of other programs to bring all children into a standardization to fit them to the economic desires of those in power.
In this presentation, JaKell Sullivan enlightens and exposes what is happening in the White House and departments of education across the nation and how they are dramatically overstepping their bounds. Please watch and share this presentation, and become a member of Agency Based Education today to help support our mission.”
(You might want to tweet it to @OrrinHatch or other D.C. senators who are about to vote about ESEA/ESSA. Ask them to vote no because the bill hurts Jakell’s cause, the cause of freedom and putting family and individuals first as it entrenches standardization, gives the feds veto power over anything a state wants to do, enriches ed corporations rather than children, accepts as normal the ongoing, unconstitutional federal encroachment into education, and cements the power of student-data mining.)
What’s the big deal about Utah changing its science standards? Doesn’t “new” equal “improved”?
I have three items to share on this subject that come from other people, which I add to what I wrote in yesterday’s letter to the USOE Auditing Department, and then I’ll spout my own thoughts at the end.
1) First, I’m sharing an open letter of fellow Utah mom, Rhonda Hair, to the State Board, protesting Utah’s move toward inept common national science standards;
2) Second, I’m sharing a link to a review of the “science” in these standards by top biology professor Stan Metzenberg, published by Pioneer Institute;
3) Third, I’m republishing Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s video alerting the public to the error of Utah adopting NGSS (also known as Utah’s New Science Standards or Massachusetts’ “new” draft science standards.
(If you want still more, read Utah scientist Vince Newberger’s blog, Science Freedom; see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards (they are as identical twins with one freckle different); watch the video documentary to hear recorded promises of Utah legislators and board members who explained why Utah should/would never adopt federal/common science standards; read the furious report of parent Alisa Ellis who served on Utah’s parent review committee for these draft standards, read why Kansas parents for objective education sued their state school board for adopting these standards; watch the May 2015 public comment meeting in Salt Lake City about these standards, and read what Jakell Sullivan and I researched about NGSS many months ago.)
Then, contact the board: firstname.lastname@example.org !
- FROM A UTAH MOTHER, RHONDA HAIR:
Dear Utah State School Superintendent Brad Smith, State Science Specialist Ricky Scott, and State School Board Members:
I filled out the survey and would like to let you know a few things.
First, I am frustrated with the survey: it reads like a scholarly paper and is inaccessible to so many parents who intuitively know what is good but are intimidated by its complexity and minutiae. As a consequence, only parents who have obtained high-level education are going to feel confident about filling out such a survey. Are they the only parents who matter? I’ve been told you keep hearing from professors that these standards are great. Of course they think that. Your survey and standards draft are aimed at people at that level, and they live in a fairly insulated world of theory and numbers, not regular, real-world jobs.
Last time you offered a survey to parents, it was of a similar nature. I attended the board meeting when the results were reported. My survey was not counted; though I did give feedback, it didn’t fit your data set structure. If I remember correctly, only about 70 surveys had been filled out the way demanded. That is because what you are asking about is not what the parents are concerned about. You are asking about the cabins and furniture on a ship that has been hijacked.
While I do object to some specifics in the standards, what is most crucial in my opinion is the overruling of parental control that the Utah Board and Office of Education have done, with the legislature’s blessing. I don’t need to spend considerable time reviewing the standards (though I did) to know you are on the wrong track. These things should be decided at the very local level, where parents and teachers can work together to address the needs, wants, talents, and values of the families and individuals. The state Constitution specifies the Board is to have “general control” of education, which means what can apply to everyone, not “detailed control”. Your predecessors overstepped the intended bounds.
Please help remedy the situation by dropping these standards, rejecting federal strings and intervention, dropping state educational core curriculum, and allow the resulting vacuum to be filled naturally by the districts, schools, and families.
Parent of Utah public-ed students and homeschool students, B.S. in Elementary Education
2. FROM PIONEER INSTITUTE:
Study Calls for Draft Science and Technology/Engineering Standards to Be Withdrawn
“Astonishing” gaps in science content too large to be resolved editorially
BOSTON – Massachusetts’ draft pre-K through introductory high school Science and Technology/Engineering standards contain such startling gaps in science that they should be withdrawn from consideration, according to a new Policy Brief published by Pioneer Institute.
“The proposed science standards have significant, unacceptable gaps in science content,” says Dr. Stan Metzenberg, a professor of biology at California State University and author of “A Critical Review of the Massachusetts Next Generation Science and Technology/Engineering Standards.” “For example, they are stunningly devoid of Mendelian genetics and large parts of cellular biology. This is an astonishing oversight for a state that has notable institutions of higher education and a thriving biotechnology industry.”
At the high school level, the draft standards almost completely exclude Mendelian genetics. These concepts are not easily absorbed before high school, and their exclusion means students won’t be exposed to ideas that revolutionized biology at the beginning of the 20th century.
Their exclusion also makes it impossible to understand modern evolutionary theory and for students to grasp their own risk of carrying inherited disease. Massachusetts’ current science and technology/engineering curriculum frameworks include three Mendelian genetics standards.
The draft standards also exclude large parts of cellular biology, failing to teach high school students about the nucleus, mitochondria or chloroplasts.
Massachusetts currently has a curriculum framework for each of the body’s seven major systems (digestive, circulatory/excretory, respiratory, nervous, muscular/skeletal, reproductive and endocrine). But the draft would include these systems in a single composite standard, reducing students’ understanding and lessening their ability to talk to and understand their own physician and make healthy choices.
The draft standards never mention the name “Charles Darwin” and don’t adequately develop the basis for concepts of natural selection, making it exceedingly difficult to address Darwin’s theory of evolution in later grades.
Finally, the way the draft standards are written is overly complex, using sometimes ambiguous or grammatically incorrect language that fails to clearly communicate what students should know and be able to do. This ambiguity causes difficulty in the later grades.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Metzenberg is Professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge. He has 20 years’ experience teaching biological science at the university level. He was a senior science consultant for the Academic Standards Commission in California (1998) and a state Board of Education appointee to the California Science Project (1999-2003), the California Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (2003- 2006) and a content review panelist for development of the California Standards Tests (1999-2010). He has recently assisted the ministries of education of Saudi Arabia (2010) and Qatar (2015) in training teacher leaders to use newly adopted science instructional materials.
Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.
3. From Wendy Hart, board member of Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest public school district:
Thank you, Rhonda Hair, Professor Metzenberg, and Wendy Hart.
And now, a few closing thoughts of my own:
ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The entire nation of scientists do not agree on a common core of science. Why should kids be forced to do so? Science is a quest. Academic freedom to question with a fully open mind, matters. NGSS ends that for schools. NGSS’s vision of truth, including political underpinnings of “green” science, is the only correct science.
While some members of the USOE have pretended that the anti-NGSS people (like me) are anti-science people who would force God and intelligent design on all students, and that we would have public schools teaching nothing but the Old Testament as science school, that is not true. It is the pro-NGSS people who want to limit truth. They want the one-sided, politically charged version of science, slanted toward controversial “facts” being accepted by students as unquestionable scientific standards of truth; they want kids to believe that global warming and climate change is a fact, for example– even though in the real world of real scientists, that is a hotly debated and far from settled scientific issue. They want kids to believe that Darwinian evolution is flawlessly true. But that’s not what real scientists agree upon. Academic freedom demands the continuation of these huge questions in the classroom. That won’t happen with NGSS and the associated tests and curriculum defining scientific truth from a slanted perspective.
ON MISSING OUT ON MORE THAN JUST A FEW STRANDS OF SCIENCE
Beyond academic holes such as missing Mendelian genetics and missing math in NGSS, beyond the blind acceptance of Darwin and an overabundance of green-slanted “science” –there is an even bigger issue. In adopting NGSS, we are losing the freedom to set our own standards in the future because NGSS alignment stifles and shackles us with common, aligned tests and common educational data standards that tag our students’ daily work.
ON THE LOSS OF CONTROL OF STANDARDS, TESTING AND PRIVATE STUDENT DATA
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of preserving the right and power of our local teachers, principals, parents, scientists, and board members to influence what is to be taught as truth under the banner of science.
Adopting NGSS, which are not being called NGSS standards by the USOE, but which are, in fact, NGSS standards, (see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards ) is more than adopting academically debatable, “new” but not “improved” standards.
It’s a decision to shackle our students and teachers to a nationalized, common content that NGSS is promoting, and to shackle them to the testing and data mining of student attitudes about this politicized science. This move makes it efficient and easy for centralized power-holders (NGSS, federal government, state government, CEDS-aligned researchers) who have no business doing so, to not only dictate what truth in science looks like, but what student “achievement” in science will be. Why give them that power?
Note: the official site for NGSS states: “To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole, without alteration”. That is what Utah is doing. Compare for yourself.
Opting out of standardized testing will not get around these problems, by the way, since “embedded assessment” (aka stealth testing) will make every student using technology in any form, a data-mining gold mine, daily.
Please, wake up, friends!
We are, right now, putting Utah on the conveyor belt of politically loaded, pre-packaged “true science” defined only by NGSS, with matching SAGE tests (or the upcoming, embedded tests) to monitor whether our kids are buying their version of “true science”.
This grave error comes with long lasting consequences. It will be as immovable as any long-lasting, formative decision. Long ago, we decided to build I-15. Theoretically, we can put it somewhere else now. But that is not very likely when the traffic (as NGSS-aligned technologies, codes, curricula, tests, teacher professional development, textbook purchasing and more) begins to barrel down that imperious boulevard.
ON THE WORD “NEXT GENERATION”
Big wigs have verbally crowned their crime against academic freedom with the glittering term “next-generation science.” Some people fall for the term; it must be the next great thing with such a title; but NGSS buy-in is an investment in long-term political and academic snake oil. There is nothing modern and magical about this slippery snake oil except the very big marketing dollars behind it.
Inform your representatives and board members that you say “No” to NGSS. (State board email: board@Utah.schools.gov)
Vince Newmeyer reported that:
“Board members have been told that the October draft is the existing standards updated with just the good stuff from the NGSS. To support their claim then produced a spreadsheet called the USEO standards crosswalk… I have taken their crosswalk and researched it further. The results are:
One new standard was written (6.3.4). Two standards originating from the current Utah Standards were added (7.2.4 & 8.1.2). Some existing NGSS standards went through a thesaurus translation but generally without change in character. Some NGSS standards remain word-for-word. Six standards were formed by combining two or more of the previous NGSS standards. Most of the previously duplicated standards were removed. Only one NGSS standard (MS-LS1-8) is not found. see also http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html
USOE Admits that they Seek to generally adopt the National Next Generation Science Standard
USOE now admits in the materials distributed to the board members related to the October draft of the (UT SEEd) Standards October for their October 8-9, 2015 meeting that “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.” A similar statement is found in the foot notes of the introduction pages to each grade level of the standards released for the 30-day public review. (http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision/SEEdStandardsDraft.aspx ) As we have seen in this text that “most” means that essentially all of the NGSS standard concepts are found in the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” with little added.
More details are at my ScienceFreedom.org webpage under articles.”
–From Vince Newmeyer