Archive for the ‘#GoOpenInitiative’ Tag

The Enemy Inside: How #GoOpen, The Federal Learning Registry, and the U.S. Internet Throwaway Threatens Student Speech, Religion and Privacy   4 comments

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Recently, a friend mentioned that she was happy that Common Core was finally gone, and that we could finally look toward something better.

Why did she think the Common Core Initiative was over?  It’s grown.

But it’s hidden, for the most part.  Feds and states don’t use the term anymore because it’s so unpopular; in my state, they call it “Utah Core Standards” –although, if pressed, state school boards will admit that these are Common Core: they have to be, or they wouldn’t get federal funding.  Also, the D.C. legislators were told that the new federal law, ESSA, had gotten rid of Common Core and had returned control to states. How untrue that line was; the Department of Ed had just renamed it “Challenging State Academic Standards”.  Common Core standards and data tags are still in the driver’s seat for all the new movements in ed reforms:  from the #GoOpen Initiative, Open Educational Resources movment, and the Learning Registry to federal SETRA which is being voted on right now. Read on.

(Don’t get depressed.  We can take bold action to reclaim many of our lost freedoms.  We  know that pretending that everything is fine, or pretending that it’s too late or too difficult to change things, is wrong.  So choose the right.)

First, remember this: Common Core academics and data mining are utterly married. 

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The most “commonizing” thing about the Common Core Initiative was never the set of academic standards (“Common Core State Standards”- which have recently been federally renamed “Challenging State Academic Standards”.  We can call them anything we want as long as the feds can see that they still align to the data and testing programs so that we can be tracked.)

The most commonizing thing was the implementation of federal data standards, known as “Common Educational Data Standards” (CEDS).

In the screenshot below, we read that CEDS is a partnership that includes the federal Department of Education and the CCSSO (private co-copyright holders over the Common Core academic standards).  Whether you think the capacity for government to monitor free citizens over the course of our whole lives is good or bad, you can’t deny that that was and is the agenda of CEDS and SLDS.

This screenshot is the reason that I’ve never understood why so many say that Common Core has nothing to do with data collection, and  that saying so is a conspiracy theory; these are clearly conspiracy facts: the government conspired with the private trade group CCSSO to standardize educational data nationally –without allowing legislatures or voters to vote on the matter, simply by calling the initiatives voluntary and by using cash incentives to make the standardization initiatives  happen.  Money for both the academic standards and the data standards came from two main sources: unelected philanthropist Bill Gates, who profits wildly from the initiatives, and from the federal Dept. of Education.  Follow the money trails if you want to know what’s being built.

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Federally approved academic standards, bad as they are, can still be interpreted locally to some extent. Federal data standards, though, are like matching keys in matching locks: there’s only one way they’ll work, and that’s if they are exactly, precisely the same.

So CEDS standards are used in all fifty states’ database systems because the funding and instructions for construction of those systems using CEDS came from the feds.  CEDS standards are also used in the federal EdFacts Data Exchange.  They’re also used in the digital testing, whether it’s end of the year testing or embedded curricular testing, in every state.  They’re also mandated every time your state gets a new federal cash infusion for its State Longitudinal Database System.  If your state moves toward embedded tests in an effort to get rid of over high-stakes testing, as my state is, then CEDS will still be used and your child will still be tracked.  Now with the federal push for “Community Schools” that must share students’ medical and mental health data, combined with academic data, common data standards across agencies has become the federal “must”.

CEDS interoperability and standardization are the height of fashion and efficiency, but are also the death of individual flexibility and local control and citizen data privacy. Worse, the education reformers, both political and corporate, are not content to just standardize academic standards, testing, and data mining tags between states.  They also want to standardize these things globally.

(If humans were angels, this might not pose any problem.  The history of the human race, however, tells a sad tale of bullying and tyranny that has been significantly interrupted only by America’s noble founders.  Since we cannot trust human nature generally, the U.S. Constitution logically placed checks on human power, and placed balances against human ambition, so that individual freedom would not be deleted by the noble-or-not initiatives of bullies. Humans are not angels, and giving so much power to governmental– especially globally governed– entitites, is flat-out stupid. Where are your rights to freedom of speech, of religion, of conscience, when the Constitutional rights have been demoted in the move toward global citizenship, and global data mining?)

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The twin movements (of global content regulation over education and of global data standardization) are quickly apparent in these three things:

  1.  THE LEARNING REGISTRY  – a gateway for “approved” federal data and lessons, partnered with global data and ed systems; this is the main tool of the #GoOpen initiative.  The Learning Registry defines itself as “a new approach” to “sharing data” that aggregates information about the “publisher, location, content area, standards alignment, ratings, reviews, and more.”  It claims that finding educational resources and assessing their quality is a “burden” on educators.  That responsibility will be taken over, to unburden educators– by the federal dept. of ed working with the federal dept. of defense.  As much as I love to give and receive, I don’t want to share or have shared with me, educational content under the moral and educational “guidance” of the department of defense and of education.  Appealing to my sense of altruism is not going to help.   Ironically, Midgely admits that the love of money is the root of #GoOpen.  At minute 13:52 in that video, he says, “to be honest, there’s a lot of money to be made as well”.  He says that digital badges will be the common currency of K-20 and adult, corporate education.  Although Midgely says that “you don’t have to conform your data sets,” and “we accept native formats” and that the system is peer-based, not censored, I think: but it’s run by the federal government.  How is that peer-based?  Who runs the show? What happens, down the road, when an educational resource hasn’t been run through the registry filter?  Is it the orphaned, unusable resource?  This registry was designed by the Dept. of Education, by federal Deputy Director of Ed Tech, Steve Midgely (whose video about the registry is here. ) Is it not weird that this learning registry is co-created by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education?   And that its global partners include the “federated community” of the Soros-partnered Ariadne in Europe; the Global Grid for Learning, a Gates baby; the U.N.’s OER and more?  Is this registry going to marginalize traditional, classical books and lessons even further than Common Core’s glorification of “informational text” did to English literature?  Remember:  Common Core never outlawed Shakespeare, but it endorsed informational text reading in the English classrooms to the point that many public schools today have no room for much Shakespeare.  The endorsement of whatever the Learning Registry finds endorsable, will likely marginalize other content, if and when the registry becomes the new pink.  Endorsement means the feds are picking winners and losers.  go-open-oer-used
  2. THE #GoOPEN INITIATIVE – the name of the federal campaign serving the learning registry.  For it, the federal Dept. of Ed is proposing a regulation to make it impossible to receive federal funds for any curriculum building that doesn’t fit in with the registry and #GoOpen.  Local ideas for public education will not be funded if not in line with the registry and the campaign to #GoOpen.  (Utah is one of the main guinea pigging states in #GoOpen. Not proud of that claim to fame.)godi-800
  3. TRANSFER OF THE INTERNET FROM THE U.S. TO THE GLOBALISTS – Sept. 30, 2016 is Obama’s date to make that reality. Have you read the letter from a tiny handful of Republican legislators that exposes the huge mistake this transfer will be for liberty?   The internet is now used by the whole world, but it is an American national treasure, and its key operating functions were funded by U.S. taxpayers.  Why give authority over the Internet away?  The letter points out that transferring power over the Internet away from the U.S. will “greatly endanger Internet freedom” (look at how countries like China and Iraq censor the writings of their citizens online.) It points out that it will “significantly increase the power of foreign governments over the internet.”  It also points out that U.S. taxpayers funded the key operating functions of the internet.  The supreme law of our land, that upholds freedom from censorship and freedom of religion, can not exist in the soon to be globally-governed internet future.  What will happen to the ways in which we learn, if the Internet is to be controlled by countries who do not prize free thought?

 

Common Core’s National Curriculum Has Arrived: “Learning Registry,” OER, and #GoOpen Initiatives   Leave a comment

Jane Robbins and Jakell Sullivan co-authored this article at Townhall.com, which is reposted here with permission.  Please note the links to learn more.  

 

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In May 2014, conservative columnist George Will warned that Common Core represented the “thin edge of an enormous wedge” and that “sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum.”

Will’s concern is now closer to realization. One lever the U.S. Department of Education (USED) may use to hasten this outcome is the #GoOpen Initiative, through which USED will push onto the states Common Core-aligned online instructional materials. These materials are “openly licensed educational resources” (Open Educational Resources, or OER) – online resources that have no copyright and are free to all users. Utah is part of the initial consortium of states that will be collaborating in #GoOpen.

 

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#GoOpen is part of a larger global and federal effort to institute OER in place of books and traditional education (in fact, USED appointed a new advisor to help school districts transition to OER). More disturbingly, another part of this scheme increases the federal government’s ability to monitor and track teacher and student use of these online resources – and perhaps even influence the content.

This outcome could result from a related, joint USED-Department of Defense initiative called the Learning Registry. The Registry is an “open-source infrastructure” that can be installed on any digital education portal (such as PBS) and that will facilitate the aggregation and sharing of all the linked resources on the Registry. The idea is to “tag” digital content by subject area and share on one site supposedly anonymous data collected from teacher users (content such as grade-level, recommended pedagogy, and user ratings). That way, Registry enthusiasts claim, teachers can find instructional content to fit their particular needs and see how it “rates.”

Putting aside the question whether USED should push states into a radical new type of instruction that presents multiple risks to students and their education (see here, here, and here), the Learning Registry threatens government control over curriculum. Here’s how.

USED has proposed a regulation requiring “all copyrightable intellectual property created with [USED] discretionary competitive grant funds to have an open license.” So, all online instructional materials created with federal dollars will have to be made available to the Registry, without copyright restrictions.

[Federal law prohibits USED from funding curricular materials in the first place, but this Administration’s violation of federal law has become routine.]

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The Registry will compile all user data and make “more sophisticated recommendations” about what materials teachers should use. So federal money will fund development of curricular materials that will be placed on a federally supported platform so that the feds can make “recommendations” about their use. The repeated intrusion of the word “federal” suggests, does it not, a danger of government monitoring and screening of these materials.

And speaking of “user data” that will fuel all this, the Registry promises user anonymity. But consider the example of Netflix movie ratings, in which two researchers were able to de-anonymize some of the raters based on extraordinarily sparse data points about them.

Despite Netflix’s intention to maintain user anonymity, its security scheme failed. How much worse would it be if the custodian of the system – in our case, USED – paid lip service to anonymity but in fact would like to know who these users are? Is Teacher A using the online materials that preach climate change, or does he prefer a platform that discusses both sides? Does Teacher B assign materials that explore LGBT issues, or does she avoid those in favor of more classical topics? Inquiring bureaucrats want to know.

In fact, in a 2011 presentation, USED’s bureaucrat in charge of the Registry, Steve Midgley, veered awfully close to admitting that user data may be less anonymous than advertised. Midgley said, “[Through the Registry] we can actually find out this teacher assigned this material; this teacher emailed this to someone else; this teacher dragged it onto a smart board for 18 minutes. . . .” [see video below].  The Registry will also use “the math that I don’t understand which [will] let me know something about who you are and then let me do some mathematical operations against a very large data set and see if I can pair you with the appropriate relevant resource.”

Sure, all this will supposedly be done anonymously. But teachers should hesitate to embrace something that could possibly reveal more about them than they bargained for.

USED would protest that this is all hypothetical, and that it would never abuse its power to influence teachers and control instructional content. But with this most ideological of all administrations, denials of ill intent ring hollow (remember Lois Lerner?). If the power is there, at some point it will be used. Never let an “enormous wedge” go to waste.

 

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Thank you, Jakell Sullivan and Jane Robbins, for this eye-opening report.

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