"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

Search This Blog

Saturday, April 28, 2012

America's Global Educational Reform: When the Rule of Law is Ignored and Privatization Overtakes Education.

Why don't we just go ahead and abolish Legislatures?  They have lawmaking abilities and duties, but these laws don't make any difference when governmental agencies decide to enact mandates via regulatory authority or ignore existing laws.

We've seen it here in Missouri when Federal grants are given for educational trigger options  bypassing state lawmakers and the implementation of common core standards.  State standards have been trumped by the signing onto common core standards by the governor, DESE and the State Board of Education.  The standards have been crafted by private organizations unaccountable to taxpayers.  It will cost the taxpayers a minimum of $350,000,000 and no citizen input in local school districts, but that's what privatization is all about: the use of taxpayer money without a taxpayer vote to enable private companies to make decisions in education.  You don't have to worry your brains on how to make decisions for your children or how your tax money is spent...these private organizations and governmental agencies have taken care of all those pesky details.

We've seen it on the national level when the Department of Education revised FERPA regulations allowing invasive personal data about children and their families to be shared with various federal agencies and private vendors.

A classic example of the runaround of  laws protecting parental AND child rights is present in Colorado.  First, here's a snippet from Channeling Reality on the current state of affairs in education, its emphasis on global education and how this renders legislatures impotent.  Existing laws and statutes are ignored or revised to allow private companies to make money in the educational arena with free reign.  Remember, your child is now termed "human capital" in the educational reforms put forth by Arne Duncan:

The real decision that must be made is how we are going to respond to the problems of a globalized economy.  The world trading system under the World Trade Organization has fundamentally changed the nature and function of government.  ‘Globalization’ is the process of transition from government as arbiter between business and people to a system of corporate governance for profit with people as factors of production for corporations.  

                                    Old System                   Globalized System

                                    Government                    Corporations
                                    ---------------                -----------------
                                    Corporations                  Government  

Obviously, government is becoming a superfluous layer under corporate rule - except as it pertains to enforcement of corporate rule.

With that as a basis for understanding, we can now look at the individual elements of the proposed changes. 

Now back to Colorado.  Robert Peters, General Counsel for Morality in Media writes  about access to pornographic sites existing on school issued iPads:

I have been asked to provide an analysis regarding the Manitou Springs School District 14 (“District 14”) policy of providing 5th thru 8th grade students with Apple iPad2 tablet computers (“iPad2s”) for educational use both within and away from school grounds. While District 14 filters the wireless signal that emanates from its own school based servers, the iPad2s are not themselves properly equipped with filtering protections and thus allow unrestricted access to the Internet via wireless signals that emanate from other sources. Some of these unfiltered signals can be received while students are on school grounds. Students’ use of the iPad2s for school work away from school grounds is also unmonitored, thus allowing children to browse the Internet with no record of web pages they visit or the search requests they make. The following additional information about the District 14 policy regarding student use of its iPad2s has been provided by a concerned parent.
  • Most other Colorado schools (6 out of 7) known to provide students with take home computers protect each computer by only installing Internet browsing software that filters and monitors all online activity at all times, despite the source, location or type of Internet connection (hereinafter, “24/7 protections”). Such filtering/monitoring browsing software is commonly and successfully used in iPad2s by schools in Colorado and nationwide.
  • Initially, District 14 installed the LightSpeed Mobile Filter browser that provides 24/7 protections but also inadvertently installed additional Internet browsing applications that did not filter or monitor students’ online activities (hereinafter, “unrestricted browsers”). 
  • When District 14 first became aware of its unrestricted browsers problem, it indicated that these unrestricted browsers would be removed from its iPad2s and did in fact begin to remove them. Subsequently, District 14 reversed itself and provided iPad2s with unrestricted browsers (Safari, Wiki, Wikibot, Zite, Smartnote, and perhaps others) because it deemed “the educational value” of these browsers “too great to justify removing them.” [Quoted matter from a statement, ”Blazing new trails in 21st Century Learning,” issued by Chris Burr, Principal, Manitou Springs Middle School.]
Are there laws protecting children and parents from this access?
The question has arisen as to whether the District 14 policy is in compliance with the Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act [C.R.S. 87-22-101 et seq.], which states in part in Subsections 101(2) and 104(1) & (2): “It is the intent of the general assembly…that public schools be required to adopt and enforce reasonable policies of internet safety that will protect children from access to harmful material without compromising…use of the internet as an educational resource…[T]he governing body of each [school] district shall adopt and implement a policy of internet safety for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure for each computer operated by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor…After the adoption and implementation of the policy…the governing body of each [school] district shall continue to enforce the policy and the operation of the technology protection measure for each computer operated by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor.

The question has also arisen as to whether the District 14 policy is in compliance with the Federal Child Internet Protection Act [47 U.S.C. 254(h)(5)], which states in Subsection 254(h)(5)(B)(i) that in order for a school to qualify to buy Internet access at a discount it must first certify that it is enforcing a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are …harmful to minors.”

The school district's actions don't seem to be hindered by the state or national laws protecting students.  Remember its statement: Subsequently, District 14 reversed itself and provided iPad2s with unrestricted browsers (Safari, Wiki, Wikibot, Zite, Smartnote, and perhaps others) because it deemed “the educational value” of these browsers “too great to justify removing them.”
Why is the use of iPads so important in American education?  It's because the assessments the students take due to Common Core mandates require those assessments be done on a computer or hand held device.  Pretty nifty, eh?  Mandate products provided by private corporations in your mandated reform measures (disguise them as being "state led") and it's a bonanza to private industries.  They are the recipients of taxpayer money due to these unfunded mandates.  Remember Scott Joftus and his proclamation about education reform?  It's about the money, not education:

“You know we’re in a new era when school turnaround firms in the U.S. are being funded out of the Middle East,” Joftus said. “To me, that says there’s money to be made. I call this period the Wild West in education.”
Mr. Peters' memorandum details how the rights (mandated by government) of Apple to make money off public education students (funded by taxpayers) trumps the parental rights or existing laws to easily keep pornographic material from their children.  The school shifted the obligation to the parents to keep such material from their children.  Peters writes:
  • To address the problem of children gaining access to harmful Internet content while using school issued iPad2s when away from school, District 14 shifted that responsibility to parents. District 14 Policy Code: JS, entitled “Student Use of the Internet and Electronic Communications” and adopted in December 2011 (available at mssd14.org/boe/section_J_3x.html#JS), states in part: “Parents and/or legal guardians must accept responsibility for the blocking and filtering of obscene, pornographic and harmful information while their students are away from school and using district issued technological devices.”
  •  Because browsers (e.g., Safari) now installed on the iPad2s do not offer parental controls, parents have no means of controlling Internet content beamed from unsecured Wi-Fi signals readily accessible to their children when they are off school grounds.  Parents also face burdensome and complex technical measures to place controls upon their own home wireless networks to protect children while their children are at home. (emphasis added)

Can parents opt out from iPad use at home?  Well, sure, parents can opt out but look at this dire language and warning from the school:

If a parent chooses to “Opt Out” of the school’s recommended “iPad at home” program, the parent must first sign a Technology User Agreement that says in part: “I understand that my child may not have the same learning opportunities as other students who have access to the school-issued iPad beyond normal school hours.”
If a child needs the iPad to finish homework at home, beware!  Because a parent wants to shield his/her child from pornographic sites accessible away from the school grounds, he/she is now withholding said child from the "same learning opportunities" as the other students.
Maybe that's not such a bad thing to be shielded from the "same learning opportunities".  While Apple keeps making money because of educational mandates set forth by the federal government (NOT the states) and the school district shirks any moral and legal responsibility to parents and children, legislatures are impotent to stop this privatization of education (the DOEd either ignores or revises current laws to allow such activity to continue in the name of "education"), and in the meantime, tax dollars are perpetuating this system. 
Welcome to the globalization of education in which Arne Duncan so wants your human capital to succeed.


1 comment:

  1. We have the exact same thing going on in Iowa. In our case, it appears the governor and director of education have gone to great lengths to shut down the state's official R&D school behind closed doors. Check this out: http://unifyforeducation.weebly.com/2/post/2012/04/the-branstad-blueprint-is-price-lab-just-the-first-in-a-string-of-the-education-reform-tragedies.html


Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter