"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why Does the Parkway School District Want to Monitor Physical Activity 24/7 on Students? Is it a "Nudge"? (Video)

We wrote yesterday about children wearing bracelets home in the near future (provided by the Parkway School District) to track their physical activity and sleep patterns.  The plan is to have the children wear them 24/7 for one week and to extract the data on the activity level and sleep information.   The school apparently believes it needs this data to make the correlation between physical activity (one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day), sleep hours, and academic achievement.

This data will be noted individually and could be applied to an entire class, according to the district from the video on the Parkway's website.  (At the end of this article are notes I typed from the video).  The information on the polargofit bracelets given to the Board members begins around 48:40 and ends at 58:14.  

What is bothersome to me is there is no serious discussion about possible the legality of what the school is proposing in gathering student data, and no mention of parental permission either being sought by the school or given by the parents.   Near the end of the information given by the district employee on the bracelets, there is some laughter (the conversation is muffled) about tracking kids and using GPS's on students. 

I could not determine how much these devices would cost the district in total and I did not see it listed on the published agenda.  Here is a press release about polargofit and its mission:

"Polar Active will forever change the ways teachers educate and students learn PE" said Padovan. "With the activity monitor, students exercise based on their individual fitness level, so it shifts the focus from athletic ability to personal improvement, which is key to developing positive lifelong habits around exercise." PolarGoFit.com PolarGoFit.com is an online web service for teachers and students to monitor and track student activity. This time-saving and flexible portal allows for easy documentation of all activity data, tracking daily and long-term progress and sharing reports with students, parents and school administrators. The ability to evaluate tangible activity data helps to assess students objectively for their effort and results. This also helps encourage and motivate students to stay active for longer periods of time and maintain a healthy weight. 

About Polar Headquartered in Lake Success, NY, Polar USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Finland-based Polar Electro OY, which invented the first wireless heart rate monitor (HRM) in 1977. Polar now operates internationally in more than 80 countries. Polar heart rate and fitness assessment technology delivers unparalleled insight into the human body from valuable training guidance and feedback, to enabling individuals to improve their fitness level and sports performance. Polar technology is key to the success of leading fitness facilities, athletic teams, corporate wellness facilities, health insurance providers and thousands of physical education programs around the world. "

Notes from the video:

Video of the School Board Meeting December 7, 2011

48:45 starts the discussion of the bracelet. Rough transcript of the conversation. Parenthesis denotes questions from the Board.
So kids can "self-monitor" moderate to vigorous exercise. Teachers took a class this summer and the teachers wore them through the fall.

Henry, Ross Elementary, Shenandoah Elementary Schools.

Kids see it as a cool gadget.

Goals. Health, fit, active kids ready to learn.

Kids were "jealous" so bracelets will be shared.

Used as much as they can during PE classes.

Ideally, let the kids wear the monitor an entire week 24/7 and look at sleep patterns as well as physical activity patterns. Interested in seeing the results of that and identity correlation between sleep patterns and academic achievement. **MEW comment: Is this the governmental "nudge" touted by Cass Sunstein and our Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro?**

Start with one grade level and then add grades one at a time.

In physical education for the longest time we've just been looking at fitness data.

We don't want to just assess fitness we want to assess behavioral change w/regard to physical activity patterns with our students and then we know we've done our job and this tool here will help us do that.

(How do you follow this?)

Each day there is a graph and they try to fill up the tube with moderate to strenuous activity. Keeps 7 days worth of data. Teachers download the information in a graph to the parents.

Idea: get them into the hands of the elementary students at the beginning of the new year.

(How do you plan to use the data and how will you run the data)

We are uploading data--body strength, muscle strength--into PARS. Correlate fitness levels to MAP scores, SAT score. Hope to do the same with physical activity.

Will do individually. Sure we will have school data, entire 5th grade, we'll have the ability to track individual students.

(Question about GPS, school cameras, tracking kids. Laughter)

No, they won't be able to track our students.
Ends at 58:14

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  1. Districts that are proposing this better hope they are not districts that are also operating systemic separate schedules for their special ed students. Just saying.

  2. This district is going along with a policy that is so dangerous. It is getting its children used to being monitored 24/7, all in the interests of "health." Don't be fooled! Parents, do not allow this to happen with your children, you are teaching them that it's okay to be "monitored" and that you are behind them! My children will never be monitored by anyone but me!

  3. If you think this is bad, you should see what is happening in Connecticut with the "Make Your Day" program. It is a radical behavioral modification program. Please go to Startford Patch and search "Parents and students speak out against Make Your Day"

  4. http://stratford.patch.com/articles/parents-student-speak-out-against-make-your-day

    The schools are being run into the ground with these programs and private hedge funds are jumping in and taking the schools over. Charter schools are the goals.

  5. 1984 just saying!!!!


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