"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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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Arne Duncan is Wrong. The Pressing Issue in Civil Rights is not Education, it's the Right to Protect Your Information from Arne Duncan.

Missouri received $890,000 from the Federal government in 2010 to expand its data capturing and reporting ability for school children in public education.  Everything's coming up data...teacher evaluations are to be made on data and the future of your child will be made on data.  Creativity, ingenuity and individualism, qualities for entrepreneurship, will be difficult to assess via standardized testing and based on what the data will be used for, these qualities may be quashed in the quest for the perfect worker.  Your human capital needs to craft a good data set to be acceptable and employable in the work sector.  Think of it as human capital selection in the workforce without the personal interview.

It's from 2010, but it's important to understand the intent of information use of these  educational longitudinal data bases.  From the Department of Labor's news release:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $12.2 million to 13 states through the Workforce Data Quality Initiative. These funds will enable states to build or expand longitudinal databases of workforce data that also link to education data. States will use these longitudinal databases to conduct research and analysis aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of employment and training programs to better inform workforce system customers. 

"These grants are an important part of the administration's efforts to increase the availability and use of high-quality data," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "By developing and improving databases, states will help those seeking training make better informed decisions, all while more clearly demonstrating the link between employment and education in the long-term success of workers." 

Funding will be used by 11 states to expand and improve linkages between education and employment in existing longitudinal databases. These include Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Two additional states, Louisiana and Minnesota, will develop and implement new systems. 
Education is designed to train your human capital to become a better worker.  States need money to attain the Department of Labor's goal of data base expansion and usage.  These grants are just a drip in the ocean of cost of these data bases.  It's difficult to determine the total cost to states for this federal mandate, but here is one example regarding Florida's expense from The Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA):

Exhibit 1 The Department Has Spent $20.9 Million for the Development and Operation of the Education Data Warehouse Since 2000.

This $20.9 Million expenditure is just through 2009 for one state. 

K-12 money to be made is quite lucrative for those vendors anxious to jump on the data train, so it is no wonder those private vendors are elbowing their way onto the train.  Ed Week reports:

The flow of venture capital into the K-12 education market has exploded over the past year, reaching its highest transaction values in a decade in 2011, industry observers say.

Venture capital transaction values in the K-12 field, which include both public and private schools, increased from roughly $130 million in 2010 to $334 million last year, according to data from the Chicago-based GSV Advisors.

Precollegiate education historically has not been an easy market for venture capitalists to break into, analysts say, but certain factors are contributing to a higher awareness of this market for investors.

Venture capitalists generally look for "high-growth opportunities" and rely on the ability to scale up new enterprises quickly, said Mr. Newman. So the common standards in English/language arts and math, for instance, which have been adopted by all but four states, are contributing to companies' perception of a potential for fast growth in standards-related ventures across a larger market, he said.

As you read about the motivation for venture capitalists to jump on this data train, do you detect "but..but..it's for the KIDS"?  No, it's for the money.  It's for the ability to track.  It's for the data.  And the taxpayers are paying for the opportunity for the private sector to take your child's data, manipulate it , sell it, provide it to private organizations and federal organizations so your child can become a productive worker in society.

The rescinding of the common core standards may be one of the most important civil rights issues of our time.  The data bases will collapse on themselves without the common core assessments to track the common human capital.  Apologies to Arne Duncan for stealing his line:

President Obama and I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our time....

Education is not the civil rights issue of our time.  The civil rights issue of our time has to do with protecting personal liberty and right to privacy.  The pressing civil rights issue is to ensure students, parents and taxpayers are not forced to provide data to the Federal government or private companies.  You and your children are more than data sets and your personal liberties are being stripped away.  Where is Arne Duncan's concern about personal privacy and the right to opt out? 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Parents - Are You Really Expecting This?

You know the analogy about battles and the war?  It's true.  Though we may win battles, the war is far from over.

The federal government is determined to get into the lives of the private citizen.  Michelle Obama recently told a cafeteria full of airmen that she was proud of them for eating their veggies. Her visit, as the federal face of healthy eating, was meant to promote the military's new campaign to  get more fruits and "veggies", leaner meats and low-fat dairy products into dining halls, snack bars and school cafeterias on military bases. Little Rock Air Force base's pilot program is just the start. It is a much easier start because the military is actually under the federal government's control. And have no fear, this program will be a success there; not because the healthy foods have winnowed down the weight of the average airman, but because the average airman must meet certain physical metrics in order to be accepted into the program and fit in the tiny cockpit. It seems the First Lady's lack of knowledge of her audience is no different than Marie Antroinette who advised the starving peasants to eat cake.

This food program shows how serious the Federal government is about your health. If you doubt that, consider Mrs. Obama's statement, "It's not just a diet issue, this is truly a national security issue."  You have only to look at the TSA to consider how far the federal government is willing to go to invade your privacy in the interest of national security. Food on military bases is one battle.

A high school student just shared with me this week a website they were told to go on in their health class to calculate their overall health based on input regarding their diet and exercise. The USDA's site is called "Supertracker."  The name says it all. Once registered, you are asked to enter all the foods you ate on a typical day.  You are then asked to input all the activity you did that day.  Each of these screens come with drop down menus with several hundred food and activity options. This is not a superficial, gimmicky, analysis program.  Someone has put a lot of time and effort into creating it.

Once you have entered all that information, SuperTracker provides you a health report detailing how many of your daily calories came from fats and what kind of fats, what you sodium intake is, and how much you need to increase your activity levels.

Even IF the government doesn't use this data to track students individually, they are amassing a lot of conglomerated data on the average teen lifestyle which will just be too tempting to ignore. This data will be combined with that from other government departments (who are all sharing data now) to develop regulations about the foods Americans will be allowed to eat. They are starting in the military and in the military schools, and they will go next to the public schools. They already have a campaign to get schools to change their menus voluntarily. Data like this will be used to justify why they must force those who do not participate voluntarily to comply with regulation in the future.

Of course they will conveniently ignore, for now, the study that said the food served in school has no impact on childhood obesity. The amount of time spent eating and the limited access to food while in school sufficiently curtail overeating, even if the kids have access to candy and soda in vending machines. It's what they eat at home that has far more impact on their weight. The study doesn't help them now when they are trying to control school food, but when they get around to controlling the public food supply, expect this little gem to be trotted out.

What kids do at home is the real data that government is interested in.  Having them use the Supertracker program to self report is one way to get that data.  Using the Polar Fit monitors is another. As I said at the beginning, there are battles and then there is the war. Parkway parents may have won the battle over the PolarFit monitors, but the school is pressing on with the war. Fox 2's You Paid For It producers looked into the financing of the Parkway monitors.  The school system spent almost $40k on the monitors for the elementary schools at a time when the district must cut $9 1/2 million in spending. When asked how they could justify that expense, the Superintendent Keith Marty said, "Parents are  expecting  us to help them and help their children become healthier." (watch the video here and pay attention at 1:04)

Is that the case Parkway parents?  Do you expect the school to help you raise your children?  Are you willing to let them track your child electronically to achieve that goal?  Or is the Parkway Superintendant unclear on the role of the school? The district is working on restarting the PolarFit program, but this time they will seek parental approval to use the monitors. The war rages on.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pioneer Institute Asks "Is the US Department of Education Violating Federal Law by Directing Standards, Tests, and Curricula?"

Is the Federal Government breaking the law with Race to the Top?  Various organizations have come to the conclusion that it indeed is acting unconstitutionally. 

Reprinted with permission from The Pioneer Institute:

Contact Jamie Gass, 617-723-2277, ext. 210 or jgass@pioneerinstitute.org

Analysis conducted by former general counsel and former deputy general counsel of
U.S. Department of Education
BOSTON, MA —Despite three federal laws that prohibit federal departments or agencies from directing, supervising or controlling elementary and secondary school curricula, programs of instruction and instructional materials, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) has placed the nation on the road to a national curriculum, according to a new report written by a former general counsel and former deputy general counsel of the United States Department of Education.
The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers is sponsored by Pioneer Institute, the Federalist Society, the American Principles Project, and the Pacific Research Institute of California.
With only minor exceptions, the General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Organization Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), ban the Department from directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum, programs of instruction, and instructional materials.
“The Department has designed a system of discretionary grants and conditional waivers that effectively herds states into accepting specific standards and assessments favored by the Department,” said Robert S. Eitel, who co-authored the report with Kent D. Talbert.  
The authors find that the Obama administration has used the Race to the Top Fund and the Race to the Top Assessment Program to push states to adopt standards and assessments that are substantially the same across nearly all states. “By leveraging funds through its Race to the Top Fund and the Race to the Top Assessment Program, the Department has accelerated the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”) in English language arts and mathematics, as well as the development of common assessments based on those standards,” added Talbert, former General Counsel of the Department.
Through its Race to the Top Assessment Program, the authors explain how the Department has awarded $362 million to consortia to develop common assessments and measure student achievement.  Two consortia have won a total of $330 million, and each has been awarded an additional $15.9 million supplemental grant to “help” states move to common standards and assessments. 

“There is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula,” said Bill Evers, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Koret Task Force on K-12 Education member. “The two testing consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education have already expanded their activities well beyond the limits of the law. As this paper recommends, the actions of the Department warrant congressional hearings.”
One of the consortia has stated directly that it intends to use these federal funds to support curriculum materials and that it expects to use the money to create a “model curriculum” and instructional materials “aligned with the CCSS” pushed by the Race to the Top Fund.  Secretary Arne Duncan has said that the work of the two consortia includes “developing curriculum frameworks” and “instructional modules.” 
“Frankly, this makes sense,” said Eitel.  “How can one design assessments without taking into account what is taught?  But the legal concern is that these federally funded assessments will ultimately direct the course of elementary and secondary course content across the nation,” Eitel added.  “This raises a fundamental question of whether the Department is exceeding its statutory boundaries,” Talbert said.  
“Proponents of national standards, curriculum and tests claim they’re merely a logical extension of previous federal education initiatives,” said Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios.  “The key difference is that prior to Race to the Top and the recently announced federal waivers, the US Department of Education abided by statutes explicitly prohibiting federal direction, supervision, or control of curricula or instruction.”

The authors also explore how the Department’s NCLB conditional waiver program, announced last September, is driving the states toward a national K-12 curriculum and course content.   To obtain a waiver from the Department, each state must declare whether it has “adopted college- and career-ready standards” in reading/language arts and mathematics “that are common to a significant number of States.”  States seeking waivers must also declare whether they are participating “in one of two State consortia that received a grant under the Race to the Top competition.”  The Common Core State Standards and the assessments consortia are effectively the only ones that fit these descriptions.

“Our greatest concern arises from the Department’s decision to cement the use of the Common Core State Standards and assessment consortia through conditional waivers,” said Eitel.  “The waiver authority granted by Congress in No Child Left Behind does not permit the Secretary to gut NCLB wholesale and impose these conditions,” added Talbert. “As shown by the eleven states that have already applied for waivers, most states will accept the Common Core State Standards and the assessment conditions in order to get waivers,” Talbert stated. 

States need not apply for waivers, the authors said, but most states are desperate enough to escape No Child Left Behind to agree to the conditions.  “And once a state receives a waiver, escapes NCLB’s strict accountability requirements, and makes the heavy investments required by the standards, that state will do whatever it takes to keep its coveted waiver,” said Eitel.  In the view of the authors, these efforts will necessarily result in a de facto national curriculum and instructional materials effectively supervised, directed, or controlled by the Department through the NCLB waiver process. 

In their analysis, Eitel and Talbert propose several recommendations, including the enactment of legislation clarifying that the Department cannot impose conditions under its waiver authority, as well as congressional hearings on Race to the Top and waivers to ascertain the Department’s compliance with federal law.
Pioneer Institute led a campaign in 2010 to oppose the adoption of national standards, producing a four-part series reviewing evolving drafts. The reports compared them with existing Massachusetts and California standards, and found that the federal versions contained weaker content in both ELA and math. The reports, listed below, were authored by curriculum experts R. James Milgram, emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University; Sandra Stotsky, former Massachusetts Board of Education member and University of Arkansas Professor; and Ze’ev Wurman, a Silicon Valley executive who helped develop California's education standards and assessments.

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


John Lennon asked us, through music, to Imagine. As long as we're looking to reform education, let's follow his suggestion and imagine what could be in public education.

Imagine how much less school would cost if we didn't have to subscribe to, practice for and administer standardized assessments.

Imagine how much could be saved if teachers were given a not-to-exceed classroom budget that they could spend any way they chose, without having to buy a specific set of materials from a specific supplier and, were also given a bonus for not spending the full amount. One teacher noted that the reading system she wanted was $600 from the school's approved vendor, but could be purchased on e-bay for $260. Another noted that they were required to purchase 10-book bundles from a text publisher when they only needed one book, but found (through a call to the publisher) that they could get a single replacement book for free. School districts regularly require teachers to purchase a particular text book which many refuse to use because it actually makes the subject more difficult to teach. Thousands of such forced texts go unused every year.

Imagine how much would be saved if students were allowed or even encouraged to proceed at their own pace, not forced to remain in a fixed age cohort. Many students would complete school months or, in some cases, years sooner at an overall lower cost to the state.

Imagine a curriculum that didn't tell students what to learn but, rather, how to learn.  The amount of information available is growing exponentially and new curricula try to keep up with this ever increasing database. If we expect schools to cover all of this with children, they may never leave school. What costs could be reduced by finding a logical place where the state's obligation to teach ends and the personal responsibility to learn begins.

Imagine if we promoted students getting an AAS (Career Associates) degree instead of  a four year bachelor degree as the president and others want to do. Students who either lack the aptitude, fortitude or financial resources for a four year program, or who simply want to start working sooner, could achieve their goal with less debt. They would become contributors to the state coffers rather than recipients that much sooner.

Imagine how much we would save on education if we followed the lead of these tech guru families in Los Altos, CA [NYTimes] who send their kids to a Waldorf school that pointedly does not use technology to teach. Technology, these parents say, is so user friendly now that kids can learn it at any time so there is no rush to use it at an early age.  And where technology is not spoon feeding kids someone else's creativity, they can develop their own. Students who are weaned on technology find it hard to break from later. One Waldorf student ,who recently went to visit cousins, found himself surrounded by kids with their heads buried in gadgets, not paying attention to him or each other. He was ready to play.  They were ready to sit and be passively entertained.

Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. Think of all the other programs we have to create (and pay for) as separate entities, the more we rely on computers in the classroom.

Imagine if public school focused on teaching the basics, what they call core classes, paid for by all the tax payers, and parents with children in school voted on assessments for the other courses they would like the school to offer. Your overall tax bill would go down and would only experience a slight bump for the period of time you had kids in school.

What would you imagine for public education?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

STEM Students Need Their Privacy

Whether it's called collaborative learning, group projects, or collective education, we've all seen instances of modern education's love affair with kids doing projects together. It is usually justified by the notion that they will have to work together as a group in the business world so they may as well develop the skills needed to do that while they are in k-12. However, if the future focus of American education, the course work that is going to save our economy, is STEM courses, that justification may just have to be jettisoned. A now famous study, Coding War Games, looked at programmers (you know, people that excel at a STEM subject) in 92 companies and found that those who had a greater degree of privacy and autonomy were happier and more productive. Our society is traveling down a path that promotes, what author Susan Cain calls, Groupthink, the idea that creativity and achievement are arrived at by committee or through brainstorming sessions. But in the creative and technology world, this strategy may in fact be counterproductive and our current education process may be training our STEM students for failure.

In her new book, Quiet, The Power of Introverts, Cain sheds light on the introvert mind and shows how there is a currently a cultural bias against introverts.
"It’s playing out in schools and workplaces where everyone is expected to sit and work together. This enforced collectivism, she explained, in which nobody has a room of their own any longer, is creating a socialized, “groupthink” culture in which we are no longer thinking for ourselves."
This is not to say that introverts should be left alone to create and problem solve.  A balance in all things is necessary.  In the New York Times, Ms. Cain reminds us of the introverts role as she tells the story of the technical genius behind Apple, Steve Wozniack.
"Rewind to March 1975: Mr. Wozniak believes the world would be a better place if everyone had a user-friendly computer. This seems a distant dream — most computers are still the size of minivans, and many times as pricey. But Mr. Wozniak meets a simpatico band of engineers that call themselves the Homebrew Computer Club. The Homebrewers are excited about a primitive new machine called the Altair 8800. Mr. Wozniak is inspired, and immediately begins work on his own magical version of a computer. Three months later, he unveils his amazing creation for his friend, Steve Jobs. Mr. Wozniak wants to give his invention away free, but Mr. Jobs persuades him to co-found Apple Computer.
The story of Apple’s origin speaks to the power of collaboration. Mr. Wozniak wouldn’t have been catalyzed by the Altair but for the kindred spirits of Homebrew. And he’d never have started Apple without Mr. Jobs.
But it’s also a story of solo spirit. If you look at how Mr. Wozniak got the work done — the sheer hard work of creating something from nothing — he did it alone. Late at night, all by himself."
What does this mean for education? For starters, the organization of the classroom into learning pods of grouped desks may work for some students but not for introverts.  It should not be accepted norm.
Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it. 
Maybe the incidences of students to acting out, being  distracted or taking a very long time to get their work done are actually due to the teacher's use of work groups.  This use of groputhink in was taken to the extreme in one class.
In one fourth-grade classroom I visited in New York City, students engaged in group work were forbidden to ask a question unless every member of the group had the very same question.
Anyone who has sat on a committee that was charged with reaching a consensus will know the ultimate frustration in this scenario.  Cain's book says groupthink may have its place, but it is a very specific place. She points to studies that have shown that the best brainstorming is done by extremely large groups (think the internet), but that individual contributions to this mass collection are often developed in private.

Back in the classroom where the teachers are forcing group projects under the guise that this is developing useful job and coping skills, consider this study by Marilyn Ford and Jenny Morice.   They looked at the perceived fairness group assignments in class.  Their study showed the greatest dissatisfaction with group projects came from the highest performing students.  This is not surprising.  The second highest dissatisfaction level comes from the lowest performing students who are unhappy at the frequent complaints and efforts of their teammates to make them work. The same study also found that teachers were the least aware of problems in work groups. This was partly explained by the students perception that bringing these issues to the attention of the teachers was pointless as the teachers just told them to work it out. In the business world, slackers are not tolerated for long because they bring down the productivity of everyone. The world of education can't boot the slackers out.  Teachers telling the kids to "work it out themselves" is a cop out for their inability to find a way to motivate the unmotivated student. Not exactly teaching the kids a real world skill, unless that skill is telling co-workers "not my problem."

Did the old layout of the classroom, where every desk was an island, have some merit? Could charter or private schools have a leg up on public schools because they can group kids into the two categories,  highly social learners and introverts, and allow each group work in environments that allow them to progress more rapidly? If public schools could do this, could they have an impact on achievement at the low low cost of rearranging the classroom furniture and providing independent study options?

Technology is not just centered in problem solving.  It also involves an element of dreaming, of creativity. This is one of the reasons America has continued to excel in technology.  We allow our students to dream the impossible. Like Steve Wozniak, we ask the question, "If you could create anything for the future, what would it be?" Other countries, who we are so fond of comparing ourselves to, ask, "Have you memorized information that everyone already knows?"  This gives them great scores on things like the PISA test, but leaves them to wait for someone else to develop the next great "earth changing" thing and then copy it.

STEM subjects may hold the promise of resurrecting America, but only if we allow the introverts who are attracted to those subjects to work in the way they need to work to excel.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Use Longitudinal Data Systems on Students when Palm Reading is Probably As Effective (and Cheaper)

Can data determine your child's future in the work force?  That's the plan of the Department of Education and the use of the Longitudinal Data System.  Student data will be shared with various federal agencies so employers will be able to identify workers fitting their unique requirements. 

How dependable is this data in scrutinizing children?  According to a recent Wall Street Journal article and the teenage brain, adolescent behavior may not determine the character or future actions of children, and children may have little control over their actions at certain stages.  From "What's Wrong With the Teenage Mind":

"What was he thinking?" It's the familiar cry of bewildered parents trying to understand why their teenagers act the way they do. 

How does the boy who can thoughtfully explain the reasons never to drink and drive end up in a drunken crash? Why does the girl who knows all about birth control find herself pregnant by a boy she doesn't even like? What happened to the gifted, imaginative child who excelled through high school but then dropped out of college, drifted from job to job and now lives in his parents' basement?
Adolescence has always been troubled, but for reasons that are somewhat mysterious, puberty is now kicking in at an earlier and earlier age. A leading theory points to changes in energy balance as children eat more and move less.

It's a fascinating peek into how teenage brains operate and how they are operating differently than just a few generations ago as society has shifted:

...contemporary children have very little experience with the kinds of tasks that they'll have to perform as grown-ups. Children have increasingly little chance to practice even basic skills like cooking and caregiving. Contemporary adolescents and pre-adolescents often don't do much of anything except go to school. Even the paper route and the baby-sitting job have largely disappeared.

The experience of trying to achieve a real goal in real time in the real world is increasingly delayed, and the growth of the control system depends on just those experiences. The pediatrician and developmental psychologist Ronald Dahl at the University of California, Berkeley, has a good metaphor for the result: Today's adolescents develop an accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake.

This doesn't mean that adolescents are stupider than they used to be. In many ways, they are much smarter. An ever longer protected period of immaturity and dependence—a childhood that extends through college—means that young humans can learn more than ever before. There is strong evidence that IQ has increased dramatically as more children spend more time in school, and there is even some evidence that higher IQ is correlated with delayed frontal lobe development.

The author makes the argument that children do not have the apprenticeship skills necessary to learn how to attain skillsets and success via repetition and failures.  As we have noted previously, they will be judged on data sets and standardized internationally benchmarked tests.  Students' futures will be decided from assessments at birth...and into adolescence... and into college or career training.  With society changing and brain development differing from past generations, how informative and reliable is this data?

The education "reformers" should ditch the multi-billion dollar plans they have for the taxpayers, parents and children and practice the ancient art of....palm reading...to determine where to channel the human capital in future endeavors.  Palm reading might just be as accurate as tracking data from the teenage brain via the Longitudinal Data System (and much cheaper).  From news@xinahuet.com:

TAIYUAN, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Education authorities in a north China city on Tuesday banned schools and kindergartens from carrying out palm-reading tests that could allegedly tell a child's intelligence and professional aptitude.

"We have issued a circular to criticize the three kindergartens that offered palm-reading tests for 1,200 yuan (190 U.S. dollars) per person," said Ma Zhaoxing, education bureau chief in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi Province.

Earlier in January, some parents in Taiyuan complained to Xinhua that they had been offered the test, which could allegedly help them find out their children's aptitudes in music, mathematics or languages, so as to cultivate these talents accordingly at an earlier age.

Mei Mingzhi, a company executive with Shanxi Daomeng, said the test could help determine a child's innate intelligence and potential and was applicable to all children aged over three months.

The test, however, was described as pseudoscience by Zhao Yulin, a family education specialist with Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences.

Zhao, who did some research work on palm-reading three years ago, said the test was originally based on genetics and the multi-intelligence theory, but had apparently gone beyond science and could be misleading.

Does data from the Longitudinal Data System (gathered from developing brains of children) go beyond science as well and could be misleading?  Just substitute the word "data" for "palm reading" in the article.  Could a case be made they are both less than reliable in determining if a child will be successful in life...or not?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader: Visual Soundbites for 02.05.2012

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 02.05.2012.  The visual soundbites from Twitter for the week:
  • Federal Officials breaking the law affecting public education students.   Is the Department of Education thumbing its nose at American taxpayers and parents?....Department of Education, So what if we break the law
  • Is your child late to school?  In Loudoun, VA, expect a deputy to appear on your doorstep.  “It’s not just trying to meddle in someone’s affairs or dictate how someone raises their child,” said Wayde Byard, spokesman for Loudoun County Public Schools. “It’s a child welfare issue, basically.”  Nanny state gone wild?....VA Parents summoned to court b/c their kids were a few minutes late to school Washington Post -
  • If schools adopted these rules from 1898, would we have better schools that wouldn't cost billions of dollars in "reform"?.....Just found this "Good Manners" chart, supplied to schools in 1898 (It's a PDF):
Educational thought of the week picked up from twitter encapsulating what's wrong with public education.  
Are schools day care facilities or academies of intellectual pursuit?  Is the reason children are sent to school to give a break to the parents?  Maybe the parents need to read the aforementioned WSJ article.
Starting to suspect that the reason why kids have to go to school isn't that they need an education. It's that parents need a break. 
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