————— On Children’s Privacy ————————–
The insatiable data-hunters at American Institutes for Research (AIR) –who also happen to create Utah’s SAGE/Common Core/Utah Core school tests— seem to qualify as stark enemies of student privacy and parental rights.
Desperate to access personal information about children, AIR wants us to believe the following lie: “your information is out there anyway, so stop fighting for your child’s right to privacy.” That’s the gist of this interview with Julia Lane, a “fellow” at American Institutes for Research (AIR). It’s short, and a must-see.
Jakell Sullivan, a Utah mom, has provided the following commentary on Julia Lane’s interview:
- “It’s impossible to get informed consent about collecting big-data.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We can’t wait for you, the parent, to understand our need to collect your child’s data. We’ll need to change public policies at the federal and state level without your consent. We can unilaterally do this by lobbying legislators to stomp out your parental rights.”)
- “Google knows where you are every single minute of the day”
… (TRANSLATION-”We couldn’t let Google have a monopoly over big-data, so we partnered with them in 2012. Now, we can drill down on what your child is doing and thinking. Luckily, your child will be using Google Chromebooks soon to learn and take SAGE tests. Once we get every child on a one-to-one device, we can continuously assess your child’s skills through the technology without them having to take a formal test—or be at school!”)
- “The private sector has been using the data to make a lot of money.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We deserve to make obscene amounts of money, too, by tracking your child’s thinking patterns from PreK to Workforce. Then, we can manipulate their education data to spread the wealth right back into our coffers.”)
- “In the public sector, we tend not to use those data.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We don’t see a need to follow ethical rules anymore. Everybody else is collecting big-data. We deserve big-data on your child! Your natural right to direct your child’s learning is getting in the way of US doing it. We deserve to control their learning!”)
- “The good that is being lost is incalculably high.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We can’t save your child because you won’t let us track their personal learning. We must be able to track what they think from PreK to Workforce—for the good of the collective.”)
- “The rules that exist are no longer clear and are probably no longer applicable.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We don’t think federal or state privacy laws are fair. We will unilaterally decide how Utah’s state policies will be changed so that we can track your child’s personal learning styles, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s for the good of the collective, of course!”)
This video shows how very wrong we are to buy into AIR at all, or to buy into the current “children live to serve the workforce” movement.
Consent does matter. Privacy is an important right. Personal choice shouldn’t be superseded by what so-called “stakeholders” desire. Governments and corporations don’t have the right to take away privacy –any more than they have the right to take away your property. No fluffy argument can trump these inherent rights.
Don’t let them have it! Don’t give your child’s privacy up so easily! The more people who opt their children out of taking the high-stakes AIR/SAGE tests, the less information these data hounds will have.
Just today, I was registering my high school student for the upcoming school year, online, and was asked many questions about personal, non-academic things: what languages do we speak at home, whether my child has contact lenses, emotional troubles, what our ethnic background is, and endless medical data questioning.
It was not possible to go to the next screen without saying “yes” or giving out each piece of information.
So I wrote to the school district and complained. Please do the same.
If many of us stand up, things will not continue to hurtle down the path toward a real-life Orwellian 1984 where privacy can no longer exist.
——————– On Children’s Happiness ————————–
Privacy from big-data mining is not the only reason people are opting their children out of state tests.
The other thing that opting your child out of state testing gives you, is a happier child. The tests are very long and don’t benefit your child. They are non-educating, are secretive (parents may not see them) and test the experimental Common Core standards rather than legitimate, classic education. Why participate? What is in it for your child?
Currently, teachers in Utah are under a gag order; they are not allowed to tell parents that parents have a legal right to opt a child out of state testing. The fact is that although schools are required by current law to administer these terrible tests, students and parents are under no obligation to take them. Schools are not allowed to penalize students for opting out, in any way.
Learn more about how and why to boycott SAGE/AIR/Common Core tests, and learn what your legal rights are, as a parent or as a student, at Utahns Against Common Core.
Note to Utahns: Utah children are being tested by AIR, not by Pearson. So why post this article?
It’s no secret that Utah, as well as the federal government, has heavily invested in Pearson/Microsoft‘s philosophy and product. Pearson leads out in all Common Core implementation and student-data gathering products nationwide, including here in Utah (except for the SAGE/AIR test itself).
Alan Singer’s article adds to the growing argument against Pearson, period. My hope is that both Pearson’s products and its “one-global-governance-system” philosophy will be vigorously rejected and that Pearson will not receive one more penny of the countless Utah tax dollars it has already claimed, both via curriculum sales and via its creepy database building for our state’s school system.
Why Pearson Tests Our Kids
by Alan Singer, Hofstra University
(Posted with permission from the author and also published here)
Pearson invited me to breakfast. Well not just me. I received an email inviting Long Island educators to a free “Breakfast Briefing” promoting “Pearson Personalized Learning” that would empower me to “Turn your traditional student learning into Student-Centered learning by delivering the right curriculum to the right student, at the right time.” I checked out Pearson’s personal learning products online and then decided that the free breakfast and the opportunity to annoy them was not worth the trip.
Pearson is promoting GradPoint, “an easy to use web based solution for grades 6-12” that “includes over 180 rigorous courses (Core, Electives, AP and Foreign Language & CTE).;” iLit, “a tablet-based reading intervention for students in grades 4-10” which promises “it has everything your class needs to gain two years of reading growth in a single year;” and aimsweb, “the leading assessment and RTI solution in school today-a complete web-based solution for universal screening, progress monitoring, and data management for Grades K-12.”
I thought calling their literacy program iLit was pretty funny, but otherwise I find their promotion scary. “Pearson Personalized Learning” is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning.
Pearson executives Sir Michael Barber, Saad Rizvi and John Fallon call their global market strategy “The Incomplete Guide To Delivering Learning Outcomes.” Fallon, Pearson CEO, has been with the company for most of his professional career. He is behind the push for “efficacy,” the corporate buzzword, which in practical terms translates into the constant assessing of student performance who are using Pearson products. The testing strategy tied into common core in the United States is neither an accident nor an accessory. Testing is the core of common core.
I find Barber and Rizvi even more interesting than Fallon for understanding Pearson’s marketing strategies. Barber is Pearson’s chief education strategist and leads its three-pronged assault on education around the world through what Pearson calls efficacy, affordable learning, and the Pearson Knowledge and Research Centre. Efficacy is supposed to be about what works in education based on research done at the research centre, but everything is actually organized around the Pearson goal of “finding business models for affordable schools” that they will be selling, especially in “developing areas of the world.”
If you want to know how Pearson plans to operate, you have to look at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm and advisor to some of the world’s leading businesses, governments, and institutions. Before joining Pearson, Michael Barber had a similar role at McKinsey where he was a partner. Saad Rizvi, who is Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Efficacy and head of its Catalyst for Education team, was a consultant at McKinsey. McKinsey & Company’s clients include 100 of the top 150 companies in the world. It has advised the Bank of England, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, and the German government.
The main job of McKinsey is to help companies maintain profitability by closing subsidies, selling assets, shifting production, and laying off workers. McKinsey has had its share of mishaps. Former employees include Jeff Skilling, the disgraced chief executive of Enron and Rajat K. Gupta, who was convicted of insider trading. Other disasters include advising Time Warner on its ill-fated merger with AOL, advising General Motors on how to compete with Japanese automakers, and advising AT&T not to be concerned about cellphones. A top McKinsey partner dismissed these failures saying “We are advisers, and it is management’s job to take all the advice they receive and make their own decisions. Not to say that McKinsey told me to do this.”
I think a fair question to ask is, do we want the business model that led to the Eron scam and these other corporate disasters employed in operating American schools and McKinsey’s no-fault attitude toward advising local, state, and federal governments on educational policy?
Pearson’s Affordable Learning division currently focuses on emerging markets in Africa and India, but it is the model for Pearson business worldwide. It includes eAdvance (South Africa), which sponsors a blended learning chain called Spark Schools; Omega, a chain of thirty-eight private schools in Ghana; Bridge International Academies in Kenya; and Zaya, an educational technology and service company contracted to operate twenty-seven schools; Suiksha, a chain of pre-schools; Experifun, which markets science learning products; Avanti, after-school test prep; and Village Capital (Edupreneurs) promoting private education start-up companies, all based in India. The blurb for eAdvance’s Spark Schools give some sense of what Pearson is trying to do in Africa, India and worldwide – under price the market to disrupt existing educational institutions so Pearson companies can move in, take over, and gobble up profits.
“SPARK Schools has bold aspirations to disrupt the South African education system through introducing an innovative learning methodology to the African continent. In the SPARK Schools model, students split their time between digital content that adapts in difficulty to their learning and classroom interaction based on best practice pedagogy. Importantly, the blended model also allows eAdvance to deliver high quality education at an affordable price.” It will “build eight low-cost blended learning schools over the next three years, and more than 60 in the next ten.”
Pearson is also using mergers to expand its markets and influence. In December 2013, Pearson agreed to purchase Grupo Multi, an English-language training company in Brazil, to accelerate growth in Latin America.
Pearson uses the desperation of Third World countries to modernize to get its foot in the door and to act without regulation or oversight. Up until now, about sixty percentof Pearson’s sales were in the United States, however expansion stalled in this country because of lower freshman enrollments in U.S. colleges and a slowdown in textbook markets. Sales also suffered in Great Britain because of curriculum changes and the company spent about $200 million organizing its push into foreign digital markets.
As a result of these issues, Moody’s Investors Service, a ratings agency, lowered its evaluation of Pearson from stable to negative. “We are changing the outlook to negative as Pearson’s debt protection metrics for fiscal year 2013 are likely to weaken considerably,” says According to Gunjan Dixit, a Moody’s Assistant Vice President-Analyst, “This view reflects Pearson’s tough trading conditions, particularly in North America and the UK; the greater-than-originally-anticipated spending on restructuring; and certain start-up costs for new contracts in higher education and increased provisions for returns.” According to Moody’s, key challenges for Pearson in the future include (1) the fiscal health of U.S. states and international government funding bodies, in its schools and higher education businesses; (2) difficult market conditions in the U.S. education market; (3) the vulnerability of its Financial Times group; and (4) the accelerating transition of trade book publishing to electronic formats. Pearson stockholders were so disappointed in the company’s financial performance that in April 2014, shareholders protested against excessive executive bonuses.
In the United States, Pearson faces other problems that may be related to over expansion, the inability to deliver what was promised, and possible under the table agreements on contracts. In Florida, state officials blamed Pearson Education when at least a dozen Florida school districts were forced to suspend online testing this April because students had trouble signing in for the test. for the situation. Other problems included slowness when students tried to download test questions or submit answers and an inexplicable warning message that students should notify their teacher or proctor about a problem that did not exist. “State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart complained to Pearson that the “failure is inexcusable. Florida’s students and teachers work too hard on learning to be distracted by these needless and avoidable technological issues.”
Pearson blamed the test problems on a third-party hosting service provider. However, in recent years Pearson has had similar problems with computerized tests in Florida before as well as in other states. In 2011, Wyoming fined Pearson $5.1 million because of software problems and then switched back to paper tests. In April, Pearson was also forced to acknowledge and apologize for “intermittent disruptions to some of our online testing services.” This time they blamed a different sub-contractor.
In the meantime, the American Institutes for Research is challenging the awarding of a lucrative common core test development contract to Pearson. While the complaint is being brought in New Mexico, it has national ramification. The contract is for developing test-items, test delivery, reporting results, and analysis of student performance for states that are part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of two main consortia designing tests linked to the common-core standards. The plaintiff claims the process for awarding the contract was designed to specifically benefit Pearson, which ended up being the only bidder, and was therefore illegal.
In New York State, parents and teachers are outraged because teachers and building administrators are forced to sign statements promising not to discuss or release questions about new Pearson “Common Core” aligned high-stakes tests. In the past, questions from past state high school “Regents” exams were posted on the State Education website. Now Pearson, which is paid $32 million by New York State to create the tests is demanding a payment of an additional $8 million to permit the state to post the questions.
In New Zealand, a group called Save Our Schools NZ is protesting the misuse of PISA (Programme of International Student Assessment) tests and rankings by national education departments. They charge “Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition.” Pearson holds the contract to prepare PISA assessments starting in 2015.
For all its claims about efficacy, Pearson is not a very efficient company. For all its claims about valuing education, the only thing Pearson appears to value is profit.
Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
Jenni White, cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.) is a remarkable mother of five who writes research papers on ed reform with her children at the kitchen table, runs the organization of R.O.P.E., writes a lively education reform blog, creates videos, and also finds time to go (or sends a friend) to monitor each public meeting of the state department of education. Jenni’s videos, essays, memes, and white paper research are exceptional.
She’s very smart, and she’s very, very funny!
Attending the state meetings allowed Jenni/R.O.P.E. to discover (and share) that Oklahoma (like all 50 states) tracks students in a State Longitudinal Database. Attending meetings is also how Jenni and R.O.P.E. realized that Common Core was a network of corporate collusion that uses taxpayers and schools for their gigantic, uniform market base. Reading countless government documents and contracts added to the knowledge base, and now, R.O.P.E.’s website teaches the general population of Oklahoma vital, little-known facts about state and federal education reforms that are hurting children, teachers and taxpayers.
She puts a lot of fun into the dysfunction of education reform, with blogposts like “What Would Einstein Think of Common Core?” or “Critical Thinking and the Common Core – Snake Oil Salesmanship At Its Best!” or “The Dirty Little Secret of Common Core” or “Jeb Bush’s Common Core Valentine.”
She has given permission to repost her writing. Here’s a favorite:
WHAT WOULD EINSTEIN THINK OF COMMON CORE?
I commented on an article today regarding Michigan’s attempts to shake free from the Common Core. Many of the comments came from sadly misinformed individuals who seem to believe that “common” is good and anything to which a large number of others subscribe must amount to some kind of awe-inspiring notion, spawning my concern that none apparently had mothers like mine, who constantly queried, “If Mary was going to jump off a bridge, would you?”
One man began his comment with this, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
This thought captured my imagination thoroughly. I have been blessed to know a man named Dr. Everett Piper, the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I love to hear him discuss the horrors of Common Core from a philosophical perspective, not only because he is such an excellent orator, but because people tend to forget the philosophical point of view – the notion that ideas shape the human condition and ideas reduced to commonalities do not advance the human condition.
The best opponents of Common Core predicate their arguments on fact – in stark opposition to proponents who tend to use half-truths and lies upon which to base their case – but the philosophy behind our Common Core concerns are palpable and real and I believe we need to advance these arguments at least as often as we tout our facts.
In this thought, I penned the following response:
The Common Core State Standards were written by several individuals – without education degrees I might add – who then, knowing national standards are against federal law, sent them out through a private organization – Achieve – to the nation’s governors and superintendents with the promise of federal money waiting in the wings – 500 BILLION dollars through Race to the Top – if they adopted them for their state sight unseen. It happened here in Oklahoma exactly as it happened in Michigan and all other adopting states.
Granted, the term “Common” was used to mean ubiquitous, however, another meaning for “Common” is the OPPOSITE of “individual”, which begs the question: How in the world can America continue to be seen as the most innovative country in the world when states fully intend to collaboratively adopt standards to “commonize” all students across all states?
How do you INCREASE student knowledge levels by pulling successful students down to the level of the ‘common’?
Are there really that many low performing students in every school in every state in the nation that we need to stop everything to bring them up to the ‘common’ level of each class?
Do we bring down 25 kids for 1 kid or even 6 kids in a class?
If so, then what are we doing to the other 21?
The simple, straightforward answer is that we’re dumbing them down – there is no other characterization possible – and we can’t scream “civil rights” for those at the bottom without inquiring about the “civil rights” of the individuals in the majority being pulled down.
For those of you in the Chamber of Commerce sect, how do you convince a company to come to Michigan when your students will be taught in a thoroughly homogenous way, forcing out uniqueness, drive and imagination – the very qualities necessary to produce the Einstein’s and Edison’s of this world?
How well do you think Einstein would fair with the Common Core?
Do you think we would have had a Theory of Relativity with the Common Core…well silly question…of course we would – the Common Core is nothing if not ‘relative’ among every state and every child.
Common Core is what it is – nonsense dreamed up by well-connected philanthropists (Carnegie, Broad, etc) and innovator/billionaires such as Bill Gates, with a dollar to be made in the education “industry”.
I hope no one escapes the irony imbued in the fact that these people who worked and scrapped and sacrificed to make their dreams reality – who reached the pinnacle of success by truly innovating in America – suddenly seem to forget that the great thing about America – the thing that gave them the ability to get to the top – was the variety inherent in every aspect of the American condition – the FREEDOM to receive the best education one could seek out from the very variety contained within.
Thank you, Jenni White.
In the video posted here, David Coleman speaks. (Coleman is current president of the College Board, a non-educator, who was the chief architect of Common Core English Language Arts standards.)
Coleman says in this 2013 video: “When I was involved in convincing governors and others around this country to adopt these standards, it was not ‘Obama likes them.’ Do you think that would have gone well with the Republican crowd?”
Special interests, meaning money-hungry businessmen like David Coleman and Bill Gates, led Common Core. I hope this video clip helps put to rest the oft-repeated mantra that Common Core was in any way “state-led” or that it in any way represented the actual will of the American voters, teachers, principals, parents or students.
Watch the video.
More detailed commentary is available at the Missouri Education Watchdog about this David Coleman video, too. See it here.
Did you see the recent view that Missouri Education Watchdog has taken on “Datapalooza” at the White House? Most telling is a pleasant sounding speech by eScholar CEO Shawn T. Bay, given at the White House, in which he states that although aggregate data (not individual) is useful, it’s most useful to look at the individual consumer or the individual student. He says, too, that Common Core is so important to the open data movement, because it’s “the glue that actually ties everything together.”
Common Core tests begin in 2014. The tests are to be the vehicle for the nationwide student data collection, both academic and nonacademic. Without Common Core, the federal and corporate invasion of privacy could not be effective. I do not think many people, including the speaker in this video, understand the underhanded (nonconsensual) alterations to privacy law of the Department of Education.
Here is the video. http://youtu.be/9RIgKRNzC9U?t=9m5s
At about minute nine, he explains how the data push depends on Common Core State Standards.
Fox News interviewed Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project concerning recent, federal moves that allow federal access to the private information of students nationwide.
Things I am thinking as I watch this video:
The Department of Education is, right now, in the middle of a lawsuit brought by another group, EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center). EPIC has alleged that the FERPA regulations that the Department made without Congressional approval violate student privacy law (by new redefinings of terms and by stretching definitions “past the breaking point” to allow access to data by almost anyone claiming to be an “authorized representative”–without any parental consent requirements by school administrators.) Not pretty.
Read this official statement from the Department of Education:
“Parents can rest assured that their children’s personal information is protected better now than it has ever been.” (This official statement is also read in this video clip.)
Emmett McGroarty responds to that statement:
“It’s important to note that these regulatory changes allow the sharing of data not just from department to department in both the federal government and state governments, but also —also— to private entities. So this is just a radical, radical change. I would beg to differ with the department’s response in that respect. ”
So would I.
To see the article that ignited the Fox news discussion: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/how_the_feds_are_tracking_your_kid_xC6wecT8ZidCAzfqegB6hL