"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, January 7, 2012

Schoolchildren Used Once Again for Adult Agendas: OWS & Common Core State Standards Initiative

You may have read last week about 3rd grade children singing a pro-occupy Wall Street song in a Virginia public school. It was named "Part of the 99" and the Daily Mail listed the words to the song:

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be one of the 1 percent
I worked all the time
Never saw my family
Couldn’t make life rhyme
Then the bubble burst
It really, really hurt
I lost my money
Lost my pride
Lost my home
Now I’m part of the 99

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be sad, now I’m satisfied
’Cause I really have enough
Though I lost my yacht and plane
Didn’t need that extra stuff
Could have been much worse
You don’t need to be first
’Cause I’ve got my friends
Here by my side
Don’t need it all
I’m so happy to be part of the 99

There is some question whether or not 3rd graders could come up with such lyrics, life experiences and knowledge of the Occupy Movement to sing such a song, or whether they were provided with the words and idea by adults with a pro-Occupy agenda.

Below is a video from middle school students extolling the virtues of common core standards.  We've provided videos of teachers singing Common Core praises, but this is the first we've seen of children being excited about being part of an expensive experiment that is:
  • untested
  • unproven
  • unconstitutional
  • underfunded
Do you think 8th grade students know what common core standards are or are they furthering an adult agenda?  Do you think these children wrote the script for Common Core or were they provided with a script and props by the adults? 

The students hold up flash cards for the camera and are great looking kids.  Ask yourself as you read through the common core talking points if you truly believe these kids know what they are flashing on the screen.  Do they believe the reason students are having dismal test results is because the country doesn't have national standards?  Do they believe their high school success depends on standards set by a consortia?  Do they know these standards are underfunded and will impact their future economic lives?  Are they aware they are entering a "one size fits all" education which does not foster creativity or innovation on behalf of the teachers or the students?

Watch the video on the  Cocopah Middle School website:

  An introduction to the Common Core Standards, presented by students of Cocopah Middle School

Friday, January 6, 2012

Look Who's On the Guest List at the MO Legislature

Missouri may have scored another first this week.  It was announced on St Louis Today and on the StudentsFirst website that Michelle Rhee's organization, StudentsFirst, was invited to Missouri by a bi-partisan group of legislators to help craft our state's new education legislation.  This is the first time anyone can remember that a lobbying group was actually invited to come influence the legislative process.
StudentsFirst announced on its website today that it will begin pushing for laws in Jefferson City to further organization’s mission — one that centers around school choice and accountability, rewarding teachers based on performance, and eliminating wasteful school spending. The group’s plans include lobbying legislators and possibly giving financial support to certain candidates. The organization is in 11 states, according to its website, and recently added Iowa to the list.
Education is expected to be a hot topic in Jefferson City this year.  The Post Dispatch reported that House Speaker Tilley has been shaking up the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, adding members who have a noted lack of education experience, to help pave the way for this new legislation.  Michelle Rhee is known for bringing a business approach to education, so having more business oriented people on this committee may mean a more receptive audience to StudentsFirst's message.

Given what was reported in the Post, we can get a glimpse of what the future of education in Missouri might look like. Those added to the joint committee on Elementary and Secondary Education include people who believe in; eliminating the state constitutional ban on giving public money to private schools, tax credits to pay for tuition at private schools, school choice, performance pay and phasing out teacher tenure.

The Post reported that these new members include:
  •     Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-St. Louis County, has long championed legislation establishing tuition tax credits to pay for autistic children to attend private schools.
  •     Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, last year proposed repealing the constitutional ban on using state money to support religious schools.
  •     Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, last year sponsored a bill allowing home-schooled students to participate in public high school sports.
  •     Rep Kurt Bahr,  R-St. Charles
  •     Rep. Mike Leara, R-St. Louis County
  •     Rep. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee's Summit
  •     Rep. Ira Anders, D-Independence
  •     Rep. Chris Carter, D-St. Louis
StudentsFirst has a goal of identifying and keeping good teachers which, to them, means the elimination of the role of seniority in teacher layoffs, which are expected with the continued down economy.  They believe, "At least 50 percent of teachers' and principals' evaluations should be based on how much academic progress their students make."  As we saw in New York, principles aren't too happy about having their jobs on the line based on student performance. Wonder how that will go over in Missouri.

StudentsFirst was invited to participate in the legislative process.  I guess the rest of the Missouri taxpayers who have their own wish list for education will just have to be party crashers.

With the DESE agreement to adopt Common Core Standards and the associated fiscal hit that will add to the state's education budget just for implementation, this committee has its work cut out for them.  They must find a way to identify and keep top teachers, who will need to be retrained on a new set of standards, that will also require a complex computer based data system to offer continuous data flow on student and teacher performance, while also paying for all the additional and ancillary administrative staff that will be needed to oversee the federal and state reporting requirements so that everyone may be assured their tax dollars are being spent wisely. This should be done with little to no impact on direct student funding of education. In addition, they are going to overhaul a system modeled on the assembly line to make it flexible enough to meet to every parent's needs while still attempting to maximize the economies of scale. The phrase about a fool's errand comes to mind. I wish them luck and will be watching closely to see what comes out of this committee.

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

Related links:



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Are Parkway Parents Paying Attention??!

It looks like Parkway parents didn't catch this at the last couple of school board meetings when it was being budgeted for and approved, but hopefully they caught it today in St Louis Today's Suburban Journal.  The Parkway school district will outfit all their elementary students with a "health meter" that they will be required to wear 24/7 for a week (for now). Read the full article below.

When is the line crossed between better health and surveillance?
In early 2012, wristwatch-like devices called Polar active monitors will be used by older students in PE classes at all 18 Parkway elementary schools. District officials say the devices should help improve the students' fitness and academic achievement. 

Later this school year, the district plans to collect data about activity levels and even sleep patterns for a week at a time. It will have the students wear the devices round the clock.
Some parents and legal experts are raising privacy concerns about at least that aspect of the program.
The project
Ron Ramspott, coordinator of health, outdoor and physical education for Parkway, said a pilot project started in Aprilprovided the monitors during physical education classes to students at Henry and Ross elementary schools. Shenandoah Valley Elementary School in Chesterfield joined the pilot in August.
At the district's Dec. 7 Board of Education meeting, the board approved expanding the project beyond the pilot phase. For the program starting this year at all elementary schools, the district will target grades four and five initially, Ramspott said.The monitors measure activity by tracking every movement of the person wearing them. They display steps taken, calories spent and time spent at various levels of activity. An animated figure on the monitor indicates the activity level. A bar shows the target time for doing moderate to vigorous activity and the amount of time achieved at that level.
Under the pilot program, the three schools each received 25 monitors, which cost $90 apiece. The monitors have been rotated among third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in physical education classes.
Each of the district's elementary schools will receive 25 monitors in January and begin using them in PE class. However, the focus of the monitors' use will change gradually, so that by the end of the year students will continually wear the monitors for a full week at a time to assess activity levels.
"We want to be able to look at both physical activity and sleep patterns," Ramspott said. "We also want to see how various activity levels correlate to student achievement and behavior."
Concerns of parents
Ramspott said Parkway will require parental consent to participate largely because of the responsibility of caring for the monitors. (Really!!? They only want parental consent to care for the monitors - MEW question.)

--> "We haven't had any parents refuse to participate at this point as we have only used them in PE classes," Ramspott said. But some parents and others insist they have concerns.
Beth Huebner, PTO co-president at Ross and mother of sons in first and fourth grades, said she wasn't aware of her older child wearing one of the devices and she was never asked for consent
"I'd want to see data generated to help me understand calories burned and sleep patterns," said Huebner, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "I would ask the district tell me about it particularly if the information would be used for district analysis."
Cara Bauer, PTO president at Shenandoah Valley and mother of a son in first grade and a daughter in fifth grade, said she's heard about the monitors from her daughter, Caroline. She said her daughter doesn't like wearing one and calls them "the funny watch."
"I wish Parkway would let parents know what's going on with the program," Bauer said. "I feel they're getting into privacy issues, into people's personal lives, when they have to be worn at home. That kind of makes me a little leery, and, though I think the monitors are a fantastic idea in school, I don't want that at
home." She questioned how the data will be used.
"What will they do with all this information they'll glean from my kid?" Bauer asked. "I'd be curious to see what information they're getting off these contraptions. They're OK in PE, but they make me question why the district isn't being up front with parents about what the program will be at home."
Neil Richards, a professor of law with Washington University in St. Louis who teaches privacy and civil liberties courses, said he  feels the plan for the devices constitutes "a major privacy issue."
"The school district eventually will be engaging in surveillance of kids' sleep and exercise patterns outside the school day," he said. "Though physical activity is important and obesity is a problem, the district could not require kids to wear them because I think it would be a violation of their and their families' Fourth
Amendment rights, which is pretty easily unconstitutional."
And wearing them voluntarily doesn't eliminate privacy concerns, Richards said.
"They'll create a record of medical information about children around the clock," he said. "Even if it serves laudable public health goals, it's a fairly Orwellian step for a school district to engage in."
Benefits of monitoring
--> Ramspott said the current focus in physical education in schools has been on the benefits of especially moderate to vigorous activity. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is tied to the intensity of movement, he said. Examples include brisk walking, light jogging, biking, skating and dancing.
 It's recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General that people get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week for obesity prevention, muscle and bone growth, stress
management and cardiovascular fitness, Ramspott said.
 "The monitors, by showing their progress, allow students to be accountable for reaching moderate to vigorous physical activity," Ramspott said
He said past research shows kids in physical education class are getting the best health benefits only 6 percent to 10 percent of the time. He said the monitors help teachers more accurately assess that percentage of time.
"So teachers can use the data to figure how to design class time to maximize physical activity," Ramspott said.
He called the devices "a much more fair way of evaluating students with regards to level of participation and physical activity in PE class, which is something that is evaluated on most if not all days in PE."
Ramspott said the district plans to share all physical activity and sleep reports with parents and begin exploring correlations between physical activity, sleep patterns, health risk factors and academic performance.
"Our goal is to reduce risk factors for obesity and encourage higher student achievement," Ramspott said.
Data from both the California Study of 2003, 2005, 2007 and from Parkway show a correlation between increased levels of fitness and higher academic achievement, he said.
"Students who pass more of the fitness proficiency levels on the Parkway Fitness Test score higher on reading and math on both the MAP and SAT-7 tests," he said. "It is a positive linear correlation between fitness levels and math/reading scores on these two tests. It does not prove that fitness makes us smarter, but (it) does bring a strong case for increased fitness and the increased capacity to learn.
Laura Beckmann, physical education and health teacher at Shenandoah Valley Elementary School, said her students can watch the monitors and see their physically active minutes climb up. The school also started a web-based program so she can download each monitors's data and come up with group and individual activity summaries, to track up to three weeks of time.
"These reports will go into portfolios to let kids examine their own behaviors and set goals," Beckmann said.
Amy Sydnor, physical education and health teacher at Ross Elementary School in Creve Coeur, said her students that do not wear the monitors wear pedometers instead. Ramspott said the district uses several methods including pedometers for measuring activity levels in PE class.
Sydnor called the activity monitors "a great resource to ensure kids are getting the amount of activity they need to be healthy.
In the Rockwood School District, staff is completing setting up Polar active monitors to track the activity of fifth-grade students at Blevins Elementary School in Eureka through polargofit.com, said Ed Mathison, health and physical education content facilitator for the district.
Privacy and research
Still, parents should be asking what data is being collected from those devices and when, Richards said. They should ask what rights they have to control the data, whether data is anonymous, what safeguards will be in place to protect data, whether the district is going to give it or sell it to anyone, when data will be destroyed, and whether the district has a privacy policy available to parents.
"If a university would do this study, they'd need to have lots of approval and consent from our internal review board, because this is a form of human subject research," Richards said. "Though the district should be applauded for ensuring kids are healthy, this kind of biological surveillance seems to go far beyond what they should be concerned with."
He wonders what's next.
"Will they start monitoring kids' nutrition at home or how many hours they spend reading at home?" Richards asked.
[end Suburban Journal piece]

Questions parents should be asking:
  • Is it the job of the school to track student health data?
  • Once it's uploaded onto a web-based program, can the district really promise its confidentiality?
  • Why does the school want information on activity at home? Is that any of their business?
  • What "corrective" actions will children whose activity falls below some set point be required to take? How will that be enforced?
We will have more on this story tomorrow. In the mean time parents should begin thinking about the ramifications of collecting this kind of data.

Look Into The Crystal Ball for Education Reform

Have you made your new year's resolutions?  How about your new year's predictions?  Ann Kane of the Potter Williams Report has made her predictions for this year for education reform.  She sees many players but "One Big Government Monopoly"

The more things change, the more they seem to remain the same.

1.  Michelle Rhee will be appointed Secretary of the Department of Education after Obama wins re-election. However, if the unimaginable happens, and a Republican gets into office, Rhee will be appointed Secretary of the Department of Education. She will make Kyle Olson of Education Action Group her second in command.
2.  The DoEd will not be abolished. However, Secretary Rhee will appease the right who got her where she is and downsize the DoEd by firing most of the staff. All systems will be streamlined. All states will tap into the new and improved education pipeline with Rhee at the helm.
3.  Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder of Teach for America will become director of the newly created Commission on Teacher Quality (fictitious—remember I’m predicting).
4.  Mayors across the country will be jumping on board to take over their local school districts, causing school boards to become irrelevant. If the school boards don’t set policy and curriculum, who will? The mayors? The Department of Education?
5.  The beginning of nationalization of public schools. No Child Left Behind with its one size fits all approach and its directives for teachers to ‘teach to the test’ is on its way out. Race to the Top has used Obama’s latest tactic in dangling money in front of starving school systems to “improve” academics and close the achievement gap. Problem is those who follow the piper must pay for the tune. The DoEd has strings attached to accepting the money, but that hasn’t kept 40 states from signing onto national Core Curriculum Standards.
6.  Teachers unions aren’t about to give up their power despite Michelle Rhee and Republicans who have been battling them for several years. The unions will remain in position to affect policy and curriculum especially in districts with progressive agendas like the green movement, social justice, and Marxist interpretations of core subjects.
7.  States may have their own superintendents, but they will be like low level managers simply facilitating directives coming out of the DoEd.
8.  The slogan “School Choice” will be relegated to the ash heap because charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools will become the norm. Conservatives who have clamored for years for charters will get what they wanted; already many states are lifting caps on the number of charters. Public charter schools are still government schools. The DoEd still oversees them.
9.  There will now be three types of schools:  union schools (these will be the old traditional public schools), charter schools and private schools.
10. While the digital revolution inside the classroom has already begun, this next year will see the number of investors in digital education increase rapidly.
11. As the new learning environment with students interacting with the internet replaces traditional teacher lectures, more and more seasoned teachers will leave the profession. The number of college students majoring in education will decrease.
12. With the hard sell of the STEM initiative across the country in the name of global competition,  less and less students will learn to think broadly and critically (these assets result from a liberal arts education). It’s fine to have specialties in the sciences, but not at the expense and elimination of the arts and humanities.
13. By year’s end, Republicans will have egg all over their face. They’ll naively ask how it happened that their darling reformer Rhee could have refashioned the government schools into one big government monopoly—right under their anti-union noses.
Gretchen's comment at the end points out, quite correctly, that both parties share the blame for the current state of things. "This marriage of government and private companies (Gates Foundation, NGA, CCSSO, Pearson, etc) taking over education is truly bipartisan and should be noted as such. Both parties have sold out taxpayers, parents and students. It's been a concerted effort and terribly effective."

Anyone care to offer a prediction about the success of the counter movement to change the course  this education oceanliner is headed on?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Danger of Teaching Character Education in Schools

A school district in Hawaii is implementing character training for three year old children to improve the quality of  education.  From Psych Central:

“Improved social and character skills leave more time for teachers to teach, and students to learn and be more motivated,” said Brian Flay, an OSU professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. “What we’re finding now is that we can really address some of the concerns in our schools by focusing more on character in the classroom.

“These are not new concepts — they’re the kind of things that have always been discussed in families, church and social groups,” he continued. “A third-grade lesson, for instance, might be helping kids to understand how other people feel, to learn about empathy. That may seem simple, but in terms of educational performance, it’s important.”

Past policies to curtail substance abuse, violent behavior and other problems have shown only limited results, researchers said in the study, in part because they don’t address underlying issues such as a student’s sense of self and social attachment.
On its face it sounds fabulous.  Students who practice social skills fare better on testing and in life.  That's  common sense.  Parents, social groups and schools (noted above) are primarily responsible to instill social skills into their children, not the schools.  The rights and responsibilities of parents are to train their child in their values without interference from the state.

Let's look at character education training gone wild when those basic rights and responsibilities of parents are superseded by schools.  From Althouse:

The schoolgirls have "meltdowns" when mom packs the lunch in ziploc bags.

Because the girls "don't want to be shamed" at school.

Because enviromentalism is the religion taught in public schools, and it's the kind of religion done with shaming young people.

But also:

1. Some people wash and reuse ziploc bags. So don't presume you know that the ziploc-user is an enviro-sinner.

2. Kiddies, if you are old enough to understand environmentalism and to pressure your mother with it, you are old enough to pack your own lunch. And if you're so hot on being saintly, start helping your mother, not making her life any harder.

I'm thinking Ann Althouse has more common sense than the character educators in these politically correct schools.

HEY!  TEACHERS!  LEAVE THESE KIDS ALONE!  It's the parent's job to impart character education.  You have a problem with the kid?  Start with the parent.  The best advice to schools (paraphrased from above) and its role in character education for students:

...if you're so hot on being saintly, start helping (the) mother, not making her life any harder.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Coming to America" on January 3. It's Already in Britain and It's not Comedic Relief from Eddie Murphy.

"Global, global, global" 

If "global" wasn't a six letter word mantra constantly thrown around in educational "reform" circles, it would be a four letter word banished in polite company.  So much of the education "reform" being foisted on teachers, taxpayers and students ostensibly has to do with the fact we educationally lag behind other countries and our kids need to be more competitive in a global economy.  In this "reform" scenario, the government has no choice but to take control of taxpayers, students, state legislatures and local school districts and "nudge" the general populace into a plan requiring:
  • the grading of teachers and administrators based on student test scores
  • filling teaching positions with inexperienced Teach For America candidates AND "giving" Bill Gates a Department of Education website (government funded) so his foundation can screen applicants
  • privatizing public education with hedge funded charter schools and virtual schools
  • nationalizing standards, assessments and curriculum
  • turning over the writing of the standards and assessments to private companies which have no accountability to taxpayers
  • eliminating the sovereignty of a state's right to set standards for its own citizens
  • creating mandates for states to fulfill which will financially bankrupt states
  • and most egregious of all, establishing a national database on students (over 400 data sets) with personal information that circumvents current FERPA  regulations

Attorneys Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins wrote about the data base last week and the plan for the government to gather data to supply the workforce.  Here is the link with McGroarty's appearance on FOX talking about this data retrieval and the circumvention of the current law and Congress via regulations. 

The Department of Education tells citizens not to worry, the information will be fine and this run around of existing law is no big issue.  Here is the direct quote from Justin Hamilton, DOEd Press Secretary:

"The data is being used to assess the effectiveness of educational programs, not to track individual students.  The NY Post article is an incorrect assessment of what these new regulations set out to do.  Parents can rest assured that their children's personal information is protected better now than it ever has been."

Mr. Hamilton, please spare us the platitudes of:
  • the government is here to help students
  • the government is using personal information such as eye color, voting status, religious affiliation, income and education status of families, gestational age at birth, blood type and other personal data to assess the effectiveness of educational programs
  • the government can protect children's information when it is farmed out to various other federal agencies AND private vendors...when governmental sites are hacked into routinely....can you say "Wikileaks"?
Since when did the use of a public school system include the government requiring the mandated signing away of individual right to privacy of personal data?  Also, would Mr. Hamilton care to expound on exactly what these new regulations set out to do?

Could it be this data being gathered is to establish a managed global economy?  Remember, education "reform" is indeed global.  We only have to look to Britain and its educational database and why it exists.  From The British Department of Education and Workforce Data Standards FAQs:

What is data harmonisation?
In broad terms, this means putting in place common data standards and data sets to create a unified data language, and a shared approach to business practices. Very significant gains can be realised through data harmonisation, ranging from much reduced volumes of data inputting, to the transmission of data in real time.
 Why align workforce data standards and definitions for the local government workforce?
This is an initiative which has arisen directly in response to local authorities' feedback over the past few years. The current fragmented approach of different data standards for different data collections (especially in areas with cross sector interest, e.g. children's services) is burdensome both in terms of time and money for local authorities, providers and national bodies and hampers the exchange and sharing of data. It also reduces the quality and usefulness of the data collected.
 Why harmonise data standards and definitions now?
The proposed provision of common standards and definitions is a recognition of the new challenges and complexities faced by local authorities and other service providers as they respond to the requirements of the School Workforce Census (SWF), the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC), the Local Government Earnings Survey and other major national collections.

NOWHERE in this British document does it state this data is to "assess the effectiveness of educational programs".  It's strictly to provide information to other national agencies and the workforce.  How does this document align itself to the US desire for data and its reasons?  From an Illinois Data System Warehouse document that also lists the personal data ready to be gathered on your child:

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), along with our Education Partners, is now actively moving forward with the design and development of the state-wide Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS).  The system, when fully deployed, will provide data to help to track the outcomes of Illinois students as they progress from Pre-K through Postsecondary education, and as they enter the workforce.  Longitudinal data supports an in-depth, comprehensive view of students’ progress and will ultimately help guide policymakers on where to invest time and energy to most effectively improve student achievement in our State. (emphasis added)

The ILDS is defined by Public Act 96-0107 and enabled through federal funding, and instructs the State Board of Education to link student test scores, length of enrollment and graduation records over time.  The system also will connect students to career planning and resources, with the potential to facilitate the application process for financial aid and records for transfer students.
ILDS will serve a large stakeholder group, including:

  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Local Education Authorities
  • Regional offices of education and intermediate service centers
  • Parents and other members of the general public
  • State Legislatures
  • News media
  • Research organizations
  • Postsecondary Institutions
  • State workforce and higher education agencies
  • Education Partners

Question: if the information is to assess educational programs, is the information to help the student (to become good citizens) or to help the state (to provide workers for its purpose)?   The ultimate goal is for this data to supply the workforce:
The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.

The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)

From US government documents it's obvious human capital is being groomed to be assigned to any purpose in a nation's workforce. In the sentence detailing the "partnership" of this system, what stakeholder is missing?  The student, the human capital is not mentioned as having power in the system.  If the information was to be used for educational assessment information solely, the data would focus on test scores, not personal information.  The various agencies in the US obtaining this data (similar to the agencies in Britain)  will use it to foster economic development, not for the personal development of your human widget.  

Here's another government document from the National Education Data Model listing data sets the regulations will require and allow your school to gather:

Manage, secure, analyze, and report student data to stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, administrators) in ways that are useful and appropriate for the particular type of stakeholder.

 Again, how is personal data such as eye color, voting status, religious affiliation, etc useful and appropriate for these stakeholders to know?  What DOES this have to do with the government providing a free education to American citizens?  Why is this information necessary for educational "reform"?  Could Mr. Hamilton answer these questions and specifically inform the citizens why the laws are being circumvented to protect student and family data?

Better yet, could Congress answer why it is allowing laws protecting citizen rights to be displaced in favor of governmental regulations that serve the government's purpose?  Since when did citizens belong to a system and become widgets in the economy and a means to an end for the governmental/private workforce?

From The National Skills Coalition on the data systems linking with the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services:

"By linking their education with workforce data and tracking education and employment program participants over time, states can see how well students in education programs are securing career path jobs in fields of importance to local economies".

In other words, the education of the human capital is of importance to the economy and workforce.  How well students are performing to become who THEY decide to be is inconsequential.  The workforce is directing the human capital, not the other way around.  

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 01.01.12. Lady Gaga and A Possum Greet You!

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 01.01.12.  We are using a different logo today in honor of possums everywhere.

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year!  Happy  New Year!

Did you stay up until midnight and celebrate the ushering in of a new year?  Most folks at home probably had their televisions turned to the Times Square coverage of the dropping of the LED lit crystal ball.  Who was that masked wonder with Mayor Bloomberg on the concert stage?  It was none other than Lady Gaga.  Maybe her presence is illustrative of a "over the top" year in education and reforms.  You can read some fascinating historical facts about the Times Square Ball here. 

I don't know about you, but instead of seeing Lady Gaga, I'd rather see live coverage of other New Year's celebrations around the country that don't involve crystal or huge police efforts to keep citizens safe in revelry.  Yes, Virginia, life does exist in other places than New York City, and a "one size fits all" New Year's celebration is about as authentic for those outside of NYC as a "one size fits all" education is appropriate for all the nation's publicly educated students.

Have you ever heard about the following New Year's celebrations?  From CBS News in 2011:

A giant pickle plunged into a barrel in North Carolina!

A 200-pound bologna fell to earth in Pennsylvania.

In Times Square they drop the ball. And in Key West, Fla., they drop a shoe carrying a live drag queen.

A frozen carp named Lucky descended to the throne in Wisconsin.

At Clay's Corner gas station in Brasstown - sort of the Times Square of North Carolina - they were doing a traditional dropping of the opossum.  

Does this sound like a piece of Americana to put on your bucket list?  Here is information on last night's festivities.  You can probably reserve a room at a nearby motel for Brasstown's 19th Annual Possum Drop next year.

Treat yourself to the accompanying video and watch how Baptist church choir members, a tuba player, military veterans, gun shooters and cross dressers in Brasstown, North Carolina can welcome the New Year with goodwill toward one another during the Possum Drop festivities.  The possum actually may not be as scary looking as Lady Gaga.



Site Meter