"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, October 20, 2012

Is Creativity Antithetical to Common Core?

What is Cafe Communications?  From "about us" on cafecommunications. eu:
In old times, one would have said: advertising.
One and a half decade ago, professionals would have defined it as ATL, BTL and PR communication.
Around the turn of the millennium, Café Group was founded to develop integrated communication solutions for its clients.
Nowadays, all three definitions are still correct, but none of them describes the essence. Café Communications’ activity has become just as diverse as communication channels, advertisers’ needs, creative processes and the system of agency services.
So if one actually would like to see the point, here is what to note: we build and manage brands. As all Café Communications’ partner companies do: either by their own means, independently or together, in cooperation with others.
This is why Café is the ‘haunt of communication’.

Cafe Communications does for private clients what the education refomers have done for the school choice and common core industry.  The reformers attempt to integrate education solutions for its clients, the "free marketers" making money from the taxpayers, not from private industry.  Education reformers exist to build and manage brands (schools and students) via common core implementation and the privatization of public schools .  Venture capitalists divert taxpayer money into quasi public schools operating on blueprints other than the traditional public school model, and students and teachers are then managed by these top down reforms.   Pre-determined educational vendors are making a fortune on supplying the software, text, assessments mandated by the common core consortia and federal government.

Cafe Communications produced a video for its clients showing them how new and effective ideas are produced.  It takes time to be creative and the company used "the world's most talented people's" (schoolchildren) art assignments to illustrate its premise.  When the children were given little time or autonomy to produce a drawing, the results were utilitarian and sterile.  When the children were allowed more time to complete the assignment, the creativity unleashed was amazing.  When the children were allowed to draw their own ideas, no child's artwork was common to another child's interpretation of the assignment.

As you view the video, think about how this video translates into common core school assignments in today's public schools. 
  •  Do you think assessments taken every 3 weeks in school creates/fosters creativity?
  •  Can teachers foster creativity with "one size fits all" mandates? 
  •  How can a teacher be innovative when mandates take away time from the creative daydreaming that oftentimes translates into big ideas?  

From the beginning of the video:  

Our clients want us to do more work in less time.

How can we make them understand that for new, effective ideas we need more time?

We sent them this film to show them how creativity works.
 "How creativity is affected by time."

The words at the last 15 seconds of this video need to be copied down and sent to every school board, administrator, teacher, governor and education reformer when he/she assures you common core and "one size fits all" is the answer to education reform. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

From The Trenches

Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody teamed up and had a call to action for parents, teachers, administrators and anyone interested in education to write a letter to the President by October 17th. The letters were a way to push back on the “education reform” changes that are being pushed at the national level and in states across the nation. The letters were written, most of them gut wrenching accounts of what it is like in today's classrooms. By far the issue of greatest concern is standardized testing and its impact on schools, teachers and students.

Here is just one example from the trenches.

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you today as one voice in a chorus of millions of educators, students, parents, and concerned citizens.  I ask that you take a moment to hear our stories.

Mr. President, I worked as a special education teacher at a small elementary school just two blocks from your Chicago home.  Perhaps you and your family have walked by it, Reavis Elementary at 50th and Drexel?  Did you ever wonder what happened inside that small, crumbling, yellow-brick schoolhouse which sits just outside your affluent Hyde Park neighborhood? 

I doubt you let your girls spend much time in the park in front of Reavis, what with the frequent drive-bys and police chases.  But that is where our students played before and after school.  As you may know, our students' families are what's left of the population remaining after the demolition of the Robert Taylor Homes. Nearly all the students come from low-income homes, and every single one was African-American.  Many were homeless, gangs infested the neighborhood, drugs touched far too many lives, and the violence was an ever-present threat.  But everyday, those little babies walked to our school.  And we worked hard for them, spending sixteen hours days and giving up our weekends and money to try and fill the gaps of not having a library, textbooks, support staff, a full-time nurse, supplies or music in our building. We gave our all.

And Mr. Obama, do you remember the friend you wrote about in your book, Dreams From My Father? You called her "Mary".  Did you know that she dedicated more than twenty years of her life to the children of Reavis?  I had the privilege of working with her during my first year of teaching.  She was the most inspirational, kind-hearted, good, hard-working teacher I had ever seen.  She had a way of making the children light up with joy.  She worked endlessly, often losing sleep.  You know her history, you wrote about it, she has not had an easy life.

I'm sorry to report her life has been made worse thanks to you, Mr. President.  The pressure of test after test was all-consuming.  Our administration was cruel, and our principal looked for reasons to belittle us, berate us, and to fire us.  Instead of letting us, as professionals, be free to create relevant, engaging curriculum we were told we must write lessons a certain way, we must configure our board a specific way, we must put up the children's test data on the walls of the classrooms, and above all else, we must obey unquestioningly.  We watched as the principal targeted the older teachers, or anyone who disagreed with him.  No one was safe.  More than one teacher from our small school community ended up at a psychiatric facility.  Marriages failed, tensions were high, and many tears were shed.

I wish I could say that school culture of fear was unique to Reavis.  But it is not.  For too many schools, this is the new normal in education under oppressive top-down mandates.

But "Mary" and I found small pockets of joy with our students.  We secretly planned engaging lessons on all sorts of topics squeezed into the cracks between the mandated tests and while our principal was out of the building.  We co-taught fun lessons that were filled with laughter, creativity, and lively questions.  We had to tell the children not to get too loud in their excitement, in case someone from administration came down the hall and saw that we were not following the boring scripts and mandated paperwork.  I remember one day, in the heart of an active lesson, one of our reluctant readers getting up and reading a whole paragraph which she had written herself in front of the class.  We all danced and hugged and shed tears of joy, all while nervously glancing over our shoulders for fear of being discovered by the bosses.  Mr. President, we shouldn't have to hide those moments.  But you see, that small success won't even matter since that special education student will likely never pass the standardized test.  In the eyes of the Department of Education, she is a "failure".  And thus, so are we, her teachers.

Poor "Mary". She knew as a veteran teacher that no school would ever hire someone her age. So she was stuck in that abusive school.  She reminisced how things had always been hard teaching in an inner-city school, but they had been better years ago.  The past few years had become unbearable, she told me.  The year after I worked there, she was finally forced into early retirement.  She will have to live on a reduced pension for the rest of her life.  According to your administration, her years of dedication, loyalty, and practiced expertise mean nothing.  In fact, I'm sure the Department of Education would be happy to bring in a poorly-trained, inexperienced novice like Teach for America provides.  So Mr. President, your friend "Mary" is now just another selfless soul thrown away in this barrage of teacher-bashing, deprofessionalization, and budget-cutting.

This is the world of Race to the Top.  Of cold competition, deceptive data, test scores, merit pay, unfair teacher evaluations, and a constant fear of school closures or massive layoffs.  I remember trembling as the list of school closures came out, knowing this time it could be our school, our fragile children displaced.  Meanwhile, we would watch as the Chicago Public Schools unfairly gave new money, facilities, marketing, and praise to charter schools and turnarounds, while our neighborhood school was crushed under growing accountability with shrinking resources.

And it's getting worse every year.  This unequal system is why the teachers of Chicago had no choice but to withhold their labor in protest.  They held a strike in defiance of YOUR policies, sir.  You brought us Arne Duncan and his Race to the Top. You helped Rahm Emanuel-whose sole mission seems to be breaking the teachers union-become mayor.  And when the teachers walked the picket line, you did not fulfill your promise to put on your comfortable shoes and join them. 

The world of your "accountability" is cruel.  It hurts teachers and children alike.  But I ask you, who is held accountable for the horrible conditions at that school?  For the savage inequalities of school funding?  Why didn't we have enough money at Reavis to buy soap, much less extra teachers to reduce class sizes, or aides to help in classrooms?  Who is accountable for streets that look like wars zones, for the lack of housing and steady, living-wage jobs in the communities where we teach?  Who is accountable for the racism that still plagues our society and is reflected in our education system?  Why does accountability rest so heavily on the backs of teachers alone?

Mr. Obama, please.  Make these attacks on teachers end. We cannot do the vitally important job of teaching our nation's youth in this toxic environment.  Help us get rid of the constant high-stakes testing.  Stop forcing schools to rely on those meaningless test scores for everything from teacher evaluations, to teacher pay, to the massively disruptive decision to fire the staff or close a school.  End the expansion of privately-run charter schools, which siphon off necessary resources from schools like Reavis and do not even serve the neediest children.  Help us bring joy back into our classrooms.  Help clear away the culture of fear and intimidation.  Look to ways that the Department of Ed can support schools, instead of punishing them.  Make sure that EVERY school gets the resources it needs instead of having to compete in your Race to the Top.  There should never be winners and losers when we are talking about meeting the needs of children.

End Race to the Top now. End No Child Left Behind.  Bring in actual educators to run the Department of Education.

Most of all, trust your teachers.  Trust the people like "Mary."

Katie Osgood
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, IL

From Ms. Katie's Blog

Many more letters were written.  Here are just a few more examples.

New Jersey Parent Letter

For the full collection of the 103 letters collected by Anthony Cody and sent to the White House go to http://campaignforourpublicschools.org/letters-page/

The question now is, will the Obama administration read them and will they respond?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Educational Expectations Based on Race/Ethnicity in Florida

Check your school district's figures for student proficiency based on subgroups

Educational writers have been stunned the last couple of weeks about what's going on in Florida in regard to the State Board of Education setting varying degrees of proficiency standards for public education students based on race.  Here's a brief recap on the decision of the Florida State School Board from bet.news:

Florida’s State Board of Education recently passed a set of controversial reading and math standards for students based entirely upon race.
Under the new guidelines, the schools are aiming to achieve reading proficiency levels of 90 percent for Asian students, 88 percent for white students, 81 percent for Latino students and 74 percent for Black students by 2018.

All subgroups are upset.  Some are indignant about the low expectations for their children and others are concerned about a higher bar for their children.  In this age of alleged acceptance and tolerance, why would the Florida State Board of Education pass such a blatant set of standards based on a student's race?

The Sun-Sentinel interviewed two spokespersons with concerns of the standards being racially discriminatory:

“All children should be held to high standards and for them to say that for African-Americans the goal is below other students is unacceptable,” Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, told the Sun-Sentinel.
 The Sentinel also noted that Winnie Tang, the president of the Asian American Federation of Florida, found the new goals detrimental to Asian students too.  We still have a lot of students who are average and below average. Being [perceived as] a higher achiever really hurts a lot of students,” she said.

Education Reformer and former Governor Jeb Bush didn't like the guidelines in another area of the country.  From The Daily Caller:
The District of Columbia introduced a similar plan for different standards for racial and ethnic groups last month. At the time, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush penned an op-ed lamenting the lowering of standards for minority students, advocating that “schools’ expectations should be colorblind.” 
“As a nation, we have rejected police use of racial profiling on the streets,” he wrote. “By what rationale do we now accept it from educators in the classroom?”

In the same op-ed Bush praised Florida schools — prior to the introduction of the new standards — for narrowing the achievement gap between black, Hispanic and white students.

“Over the past decade, Florida has had the largest achievement gains for students with disabilities, the third-largest for low-income students and the fourth-largest in the country for African-Americans,” he wrote. “The U.S. Department of Education identified Florida as one of only three states substantially closing the achievement gap between black and white elementary students in both reading and math. Florida’s 4th grade Hispanic students now read as well as or better than the average student in 21 other states.”

Apparently the State Board of Education decided it was taking too long to decrease the achievement gap based on the former plan, so it implemented a plan based on racial subgroup performance. Did the State Board lower the expectations for student achievement and the state now might just get what it needs for federal money?  Is this what is behind this move or could it be a plan by the state to rid itself of racially driven data in education once and for all?

The state of Florida, by issuing these guidelines, is stating certain ethnic/racial groups are performing more poorly or better than other ethnic/racial groups.  Expectations are defined for students based on the color of their skin, not on the content of their character or innate abilities.  (Good Lord, Martin Luther King must be turning over in his grave). 

Certain groups file will probably file suit over these new rating methods and the court may determine the State Board did act in a discriminatory manner and the court will then throw out all measures of student expectation based on ethnicity/race.  Or perhaps the court will establish its own mandate for public schools to determine what goals are attainable for each subgroup.  

Will the court rule the state practiced discrimination setting goals based on a student's racial/ethnic group designation and Florida must reinstate standards of achievement not based on subgroup data?  Or will the court order the state to make a different determination of appropriate goals of subgroup performance?  Will a student be graded on his/her individual performance without mention of race or will racial/ethnic group testing percentages be upheld and modified?

Is Florida's change in educational standards change a discriminatory practice or is it a move to end subgroup testing and test on individual achievement, not subgroup achievement? When can race be taken into consideration for academic achievement and when does it become discriminatory in educational expectations?

Here's an article from the University of Chicago Undergraduate Law Review on the unintended consequences of NCLB.  It raises some of the issues the Florida State Board of Education is facing with disparate AYP scores:

NCLB was the federal government’s first attempt to impose a sweeping series of regulations on the US public education system. Unfortunately, the implementation of these regulations was hampered by a lack of federal funding, the unrealistic mandate that all the subgroups of each of a state’s public schools meet identical AYP benchmarks, and a poorly thought out series of consequences for schools consistently failing to make AYP. A more effective policy would have provided more federal funding; given the federal government the responsibility of creating standardized tests; created multiple proficiency benchmarks associated with different post secondary educational tracks; created a formula that set AMOs for specific schools, and individual subgroups within those schools, relative to the past performance of those schools and subgroups; mandated standardized tests include additional subjects such as social studies, arts, and music; and devised a more effective set of consequences for schools failing to make AYP. Without such changes to NCLB’s requirements, it will continue to be regarded as more of a failure than a success,” has been inserted. Until these reforms are implemented, NCLB’s shortcomings will continue to hamper the US public education system.

If it is an unrealistic mandate that all subgroups meet identical standards, then a state must either lower the standards for all subgroups, establish different standards for each group or eliminate the standards all together.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The One Room School House Visit

The Co-Editors of Missouri Education Watchdog took a field trip to Iowa to visit an Amish school. Today's blog is my basic impressions of the experience, without any deep analysis which seems a disservice to such a simple lifestyle.   

We passed vast fields of dark earth, barren reminders of summer hopes dashed by skies that were stingy with rain this year.  A large white house sat on the corner at the intersection of two empty roads that ran past acres of farmland.  It differed from others we had passed in town only in the plainness of its exterior. The only thing that broke up the simple modesty of the homestead was the row of colorful shirts; hunter green, deep purple, royal blue, that hung from a forty foot clothes line attached to a windmill, which flapped against a cloudless fall sky. There were no power lines leading to the house and no cars or trucks parked around it. Those weren’t expected here in Amish country. No doubt the folks inside the home had been up for a while, tending to chores, making breakfast, packing lunches. Soon the youngest members of the family would be heading to school. That was our destination as well.

A bit further down the road sat a smaller rectangular white building with the unmistakable bell on its roof.  This bell was not an antique placed there for decoration. It was used twice a day to call thirty one children into their one room school house.

We walked in to a cloak room lined with  neat rows of black bonnets or straw hats hung over black wool coats. Beyond that was a large open room with rows of mismatched school desks, most from the 1950’s. A large black wood stove sat in the front but, having just been stoked, it was not doing much yet to warm up the cool room. There were plenty of windows to let in the sun which was the only source of light for the school. The building looked relatively new and we were told later that it had only really been completed this fall. Two young women in white caps were standing at the blackboard quietly conferring as they wrote the daily assignments for each grade in white chalk.

A number of children were already there playing in the gym or quietly talking with each other. The girls were dressed in their long cotton dresses and smocks in the same color pallet we saw on the clothes line. Their hair was pinned up out of sight and covered in black organdy kopps that seemed old and severe on such young heads and in stark contrast to the colorful dresses. None of them pulled at the chin strings which would probably have driven most other children to distraction. They had worn such head gear since they were babies. The boys also wore  shirts of different colors but the same blue cotton button front pants held up by suspenders. Everyone wore black stockings and black shoes that could only be described as utilitarian.  Throughout the day we would catch them sneaking peeks at us “English” but would never speak directly to us.

We came to see how a one room school house works. We wanted to know how a teacher taught several grades at once. What books did she use?  How did she know if they were learning enough? How did she get to be the teacher? What procedures were in place to deal with unruly children? We tried not to bring preconceived notions about education and simply observed the classroom, holding our questions until lunch time.

It must be acknowledged that this was a very homogenous group, and one with a very strong culture that pervades every aspect of their lives.  Much of what we saw probably could not be transferred to a regular public school for those reasons. But it was an interesting look at how things could be. It was education stripped down to the basics that everyone needs to know to get by in life. Once these children finish 8th grade they will  go back to work with their families, either on the farm or in the businesses they had started like a discount store. They would not be competing in a “global work force.” Nor would they be drawing benefits from a government that they did support with their taxes. They do not pay into social security because they believe it is the community’s obligation to take care of one another. They are not subject to state educational standards (they have a religious exemption) because they will only be participating in the state economy on a very limited and local basis so the state can look past their less than full blown coverage of education.

Their lessons are in reading, writing, arithmetic, and health.  In addition they study world geography and history on alternating years. This year they were studying geography. They do not study science other than some minor mentions in their reading texts. Their books and workbooks come primarily from an Amish publisher in Pennsylvania. Those in the three R’s had copyright dates in the early 2000’s. I noticed the health book, “Good Health For Better Living,” had a copyright  of 1957. It covered things like nutrition and vitamins, posture, wound care and preventing the spread of disease. When you’re thirteen or younger, and living in a strict faith based community, what else do you need to know?

What struck us was the relative quiet of the classroom. The day started with one of the two teachers announcing, “It’s time for song.” Quickly the children doubled up at their desks to sing a cappella from a small book of hymns. The teacher led in  a strong voice, but there were no slackers at the desks. They sang every verse. When the singing was done, the hymnals were quickly put away and everyone returned to their own desk.  There were no instructions from the teachers. A  green sheet was drawn down the middle of the room dividing it into two classes. The primary difference between the two was that one class contained all the older children (6th, 7th and 8th grade) in addition to several younger children. The youngest, six years old, who had just started school this fall, quickly gathered around the teacher’s desk to go over their vowels. The teacher later told us that most arrived at school knowing their colors and maybe their numbers up to ten, but not the alphabet. This meant that she basically had to teach kindergarten and first grade (where they learn to read) all in one year.  In somewhat hushed tones they learned their letters through phonics. We could hear their little voices calling, “Teacher. Teacher!” when they knew the answer and wanted to be the first to give it. They seemed oblivious to the children ten feet away who were practicing reading out loud.

The older students took out of their desks whatever workbook or book the lesson plans on the board said they needed and began their work unprompted. They could proceed through the assignments at their own pace and raised their hand when they had questions. These children practiced the patience of Job  because it was usually several minutes before the teacher could get to them. They received, in essence, individualized instruction, but it was clear the learning was up to them. There was no teacher at the front of the classroom lecturing to them or leading them through new concepts.  We later asked if they ever asked another student for help and were told that they could, but sometimes they preferred to wait for the teacher. Meanwhile the teacher was required to switch from topic to topic, over various grade levels at a moment’s notice.  She appeared to do this with ease.

We wondered if we would see antsiness on the part of the students or any difference between the sexes here in the homogenous rigid community. The girls, predictably, sat quietly completing their work, absorbed in the mental challenge. The boys too sat relatively  calmly though their eyes tended to stray around the room a bit more and they seemed to have their hands up more often. The overall feeling in the classroom, however, was relaxed so it didn’t matter that a boy wanted to lay out on the long bench for a few minutes.  Getting the work done was his responsibility and his action didn’t disturb the other students.  In fact, none of the other children seemed to even notice. As the children completed their work they would turn their workbooks in to the teacher to be graded during recess or lunch.

At 10:30 they were told to go play. The boys ran to the gym, a separate room a few steps down with a concrete floor and volleyball net, to get their wiggles out. Both teachers donned their head scarves and joined them. Everyone needs a little physical exercise though it must be noted that both women seemed to really be enjoying themselves.

A smaller group went outside to watch a farmer use an augur to plant a post. Most of the girls played out front with a rope which two of them held so the others could try jumping over it at different heights with a running start. The day was warming to the low 60’s and soon shoes were removed to keep the children cool. The ground was muddy, but that didn’t seem to matter. Many of those shoes did not find their way back onto the children’s feet until the end of the day.  We noticed that there was no adult supervision in any of the three places the children were playing.  The teachers were in the gym, not to keep order, but clearly to have fun.

The rest of the day continued the same way with younger children periodically standing around the teacher’s desk, interspersed with time when the teacher walked the rows addressing raised hands. If a child finished his lessons he was free to grab a book from the bookshelf and read, or take some scrap paper to draw.  The noise level never grew. The teachers never raised their voices.  One time I heard a teacher calmly tell a child to get back in his seat. He did - right away.

At lunch, which began with a small nod from the teachers, we asked the many questions that had piled up from the morning. The two teachers were selected by the school board, which turned out to be one person. They had no specific training, but seemed to have an interest in helping other kids with their lessons. The decision to teach was their own. The one teacher we spoke with almost exclusively was twenty two. She had gone to public school and done a short teaching stint when she was fifteen. That did not work for her at the time, but she very much enjoyed it now. The other teacher was seventeen and spoke with a thick Amish accent (their language is a German dialect). This was her first year teaching.

The lessons were set by the books they used. Let’s face it. Reading and basic writing have not changed in over a century.  They didn’t need any new methods for teaching these basics. The arithmetic book they used was called Study Time, copyright 2003. There were no manipulatives in class, but all children eventually learn to do math up through geometry.  

During the leisurely one and a half hour lunch, the younger teacher led the children on a single file serpentine barefoot run, a site we would never see in our own public schools. She even hugged one of the children. And though she was close in age to the children, they showed her the respect due a teacher at all times. After lunch the big  school bell rang  and the children returned to the same pattern they had earlier, although in many cases without shoes.

Morning arithmetic lessons had been graded and coins were awarded for scores: a penny for 90-95, ten cents for 96-99 and a quarter for 100%.  The coins were collected in glass jars painted different colors for the various grades with each child’s name written on the paint. There were at most seven different last names among the 31 students. Amish tend to have large families.  Having so many from the same family may have also impacted the children’s behavior in school. The coins were used periodically to buy small toys they teachers brought into school as a reward.

It was clear this pattern would continue day after day until the year’s worth of lessons had been completed. The teacher said most students complete the grade level work within the school year. If a child did not, or seemed to struggle they would repeat the year. Grades were given and report cards went home to parents. At the end of the day everyone had a chore whether it was sweeping the now very muddy wood floor, cleaning the black board,  damping down the stove or straightening the bookshelves. They took care of their school. There were no janitors to do it for them. Some children walked home and some rode in a small bus the school had contracted with to drive them.

The whole day was an experience neither of us will soon forget. It was a look at education without all the worry, driving pace, data focus and technology insisted upon in public schools now.  Though the end goals of the two cultures are different,  at their core what they teach is the same.  Watching the peaceful faces of these children did make me wish that my children could have experienced a little of this kind of school. Think what knowing that your peers came from families who shared the same values would mean in a classroom. I also wonder whether they would have a better understanding of learning as something they could take for themselves any time they wanted, rather than waiting for someone to impart it to them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

RFID Chipping: When Students are Determined to be Human Capital, then it's Necessary to Track them as Inventory.

Human inventory needs to be tracked and monitored, just like eggs. 

One of the schools in my district is looking to implement fingerprint scans to hurry up the lunch line.  Some parents express concern on this practice while others view it as an efficient method to solve a problem of impatient waiting children and decreased times to eat lunch.

I read education articles from progressive to libertarian to conservative sites.  Regardless of political affiliation, writers from all sides are concerned about data mining of students and the future implications of
  • who has access to this information
  • where it will be shared 
  • how it might be used 
  • possible data breaches compromising private and sensitive information
Voices championing these programs are the ones making money off the data mining information and programs and the clueless taxpayers who believe governmental agencies have our individual interests in mind as the basis for these programs.

The article
Student RFID Chipping Conditions American Youth to Accept Government Surveillance covers the gamut for student data mining. Once it's permissible to scan your child's fingerprints to receive government services, why isn't it permissible (or mandated) to use other bioscan techniques in order to receive other educational programs?  

A school in Maryland has installed PalmSecure, a biometric scanning system that requires elementary students to place their hand on infrared scanners in order to pay for their school lunch. The unique nuances of each child’s individual hand will be catalogued and the image encrypted with a numerical algorithm that is combined with the cost of school lunches.

PalmSource, a Japanese corporation specializing in biometric technology offers this “authentication system” which is a marketed as a necessity in healthcare, security, government, banking, retail and education.

The corporation also provides an array of RFID chipped tags with memory capacity.

The cost to taxpayers and parents for the installation of this Big Brother surveillance system in 43 schools in Maryland is estimated to be $300,000.

PalmSource is being beta-tested in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The school district of Spring Independent in Houston, Texas believes that “RFID readers situated throughout each campus are used to identify where students are located in the building, which can be used to verify the student’s attendance for ADA funding and course credit purposes.”

In Texas, children attending school in the Northside Independent School District will be required to carry RFID chipped cards while on campus. The 6,000 student’s movements will be monitored by faculty, in a pilot program that hopes to expand to tracking all students in the 12 districts.

Principal Wendy Reyes of Jones Middle School, explains: “It’s going to give us the opportunity to track our students in the building. They may have been in the nurse’s office, or the counselor’s office, or vice principal’s office, but they were markedly absent from the classroom because they weren’t sitting in the class. It will help us have a more accurate account of our attendance.”

In the San Antonio school district, the Student Locator Project (SLP) is being beta-tested at Jay High School and Jones Middle School – two schools in the Northside district. The SLP includes the use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to “make schools safer, know where our students are while at school, increase revenues, and provide a general purpose ‘smart’ ID card.”

Students rallied against the use of RFID chips in two of their middle schools in San Antonio, Texas. The school district “maintained” that controlling truancy and tardiness as well as gaining $2 million in state funding for the use of these tracking devices was the motivation behind the implementation of the technology.

The school district of Spring Independent in Houston Texas believes that “RFID readers situated throughout each campus are used to identify where students are located in the building, which can be used to verify the student’s attendance for ADA funding and course credit purposes.”

In order to check out school library books, register for classes, pay for school lunches, the “smart” ID card is being employed to trace and track students and their movements on campuses all across America. By using leverage of educators to coerce school districts to adopt this method of tracking students, the argument for the use of the RFID technology is campus safety, efficient registration, and food and library programs.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) demands that ranchers use RFID chips to monitor their livestock. It is expected that RFID chips will become a part of our daily life, with their presence embedded in clothing, packaging, and bar-code labels on retail goods.

Herding and surveying people in our society with the use of RFID chipping disrupts our innate ability to remain private and infringes on our Constitutional civil liberties. The information contained in the RIFD chip could be the individual’s social security number, home address, medical records, school records, criminal records, financial records, and any other information that can be referred to digital storage. These chips can be accessed either by a source 100 feet or more from the person wearing the RFID chip. Remote access to the information contained in the chip is able to be read by directed satellites and sent to database centers where it can be used within a digital profile.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built 70 counterterrorism fusion centers across the nation. The cost to taxpayers is $1.4 billion so that federal and local law enforcement agencies can use surveillance equipment to database the movements of American citizens. According to a US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on fusion centers, some may be allocated for pre-crime suspicions, others would be simply watched so that they the US government will be able to properly learn how to control a mass of people.

These fusion centers receive mostly unusable information that endangers citizen’s civil liberties. The Committee could not surmise from data provided by DHS how the fusion centers worked with local law enforcement, but rather came to an assumed conclusion that data being collected on Americans is being stored within DHS facilities for the expressed (and as of now unknown) use by the federal agency.

Meanwhile, mainstream media is busy selling the idea that multi-media devices like smartphones, need to be implanted in the body. In the not-so-distant future, corporations hope that humans will embed microchips into their brains in order to use technologically advanced devices. However, this endeavor has a dark side.
It is predicted that in 75 years “microchips can be installed directly in the user’s brain. Apple, along with a handful of companies, makes these chips. Thoughts connect instantly when people dial to ‘call’ each other. But there’s one downside: ‘Advertisements’ can occasionally control the user’s behavior because of an impossible-to-resolve glitch. If a user encounters this glitch — a 1 in a billion probability — every piece of data that his brain delivers is uploaded to companies’ servers so that they may “serve customers better.”
Anngie and I have returned from a trip to a one room Amish schoolhouse.  We'll be writing in the next few days about the difference between education including electronic tracking vs education delivered in a small, intimate setting with no government surveillance needed.  The difference between how public education students are tracked in school and how the Amish teachers handled student movement on school property is astounding.   

This community established the school two years ago.  It was approached by the public school district to sign the students up as public education students.  It would have been a great tax infusion for the district and financing for the Amish school, but for the community school autonomy, not so much.  The community made the decision not to align itself with the public school's programs.  The Amish teacher understood this tradeoff and while finances are tough for the school, she was pleased she has the authority to teach the students in the manner the community believes appropriate.  She was aghast that local public school districts are now mandated by Washington DC for much of the education delivery on the local level.  I can just imagine her response on chipping children for informational data information for governmental use.   

Here's a website alerting folks to the dangers of chipping children like cattle.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where in the World Are the Missouri Education Watchdogs?

The watchdogs have left their Missouri homes and are the trail to find quality education that doesn't require:
  • billion dollar reforms 
  • longitudinal data systems
  • common core standards
  • increased federal intervention
Is it possible?  Does such an educational delivery exist?  Can a school function without meals being dictated by the Department of Education?

Stay tuned the next couple of days and we'll report on what we find on our educational road trip and our excellent adventure. 

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