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Department of Education Surveillance of Student Attitudes   12 comments

The Department of Education is increasingly creepy.

There’s no other word for it. It’s as bad as any Orwellian-styled fiction. I say this without being in the least speculative– proof is published openly in the actual source documents coming out of the current Department of Education.

I invite you to scan over the Department of Education’s document entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.”

This 126-page report was published four months ago by the Office of Educational Technology and the U.S. Department of Education.

The whole document is about student data mining– but not just the type of data mining we’ve talked about before, where math and English and a student’s personal name and address are the issues.

Here, the issue is having schools/governments collect data about a student’s will, character, beliefs and attitudes using multiple measures that go beyond standardized testing to physical control and measurement of the child, by eye tracking and nerve sensory devices.

On page 44, see exhibit 11. It shows how affective sensors are used in some areas to measure student “engagement”. You’ll see facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, and a wireless skin conductance sensor.

These are supposed to be good things?!

We see clearly that it is not enough for the “education reformers” to nationally control, via common standards and testing, the math and English teaching; they also desire to test, analyze and control, noncognitive individual attitudes.

How is freedom of thought, freedom of belief/attitude/religion, or freedom of expression, upheld by these “reforms” in any way?

The document also says:

“There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors— attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability…”

Attitudes! Dispositions!

I re-read Orwell’s 1984 recently. Do you remember it? The main character lives in a world completely controlled by the government, which watches all citizens through virtually omnipresent screens and makes all citizens daily chant, with the same expressions on their faces– or else.

Of course he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.”

In Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance, as in other documents and speeches promoted by the current administration, you will also see the marginalization of parents. Parents are not seen as the primary instructor and authority figure over the child. Parents are seen as just the supporting cast. They can play a role. They can support. They can be educated about governmental “best practices” to practice at home. Think I’m kidding?

From page xiv: “Conclusion 6: Parents and guardians can also play a direct and important role in promoting
their children’s grit, tenacity, and perseverance… Recommendation 6a: Parents may employ some of the research-based best practices at home as they work with their children around academic goals… Parents can also support children in structuring their home work
environments to support effortful control…
Recommendation 6b: Educators… should consider outreach to parents and guardians as an important support for
students… parents may need to be educated about best practices.

This goes right along with Obama’s Lean Forward campaign, where the video spokeswoman, Melissa Harris-Perry said, (see below) “We haven’t had a collective notion of ‘these are our children.’ We have to break through this kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents.”

Last I heard, our Utah State Office of Education was claiming that Utah’s Common Core tests (A.I.R.) will only test math and English, and will not test behavioral indicators, attitudes, grit or tenacity.

Do you believe it?

I wish I could.

But while the Department of Education is pushing behavioral indicator measurement, and while the testing company Utah has chosen to create its Common Core tests —American Institutes for Research— has a mission statement “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation,” and while the Utah legislature has passed HB15, a bill that requires “behavior indicators” in school testing, and when Bill Gates, the main funder of all things Common Core, is promoting the merger of technology, games, education and biometric-psychometric control– when these forces combine, how can anyone still believe that all is well?

All is not well.

Parents, teachers and legislators must stand up, speak out, and not be quiet until we stop this erosion of individual rights.

If we don’t, who will?

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