"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, March 23, 2013

Protecting Student Privacy Rights and Data

As seen on youtube.

Published on Jan 18, 2013
Khem Irby, speaking at a Guilford, North Carolina school board meeting, expresses her concern about student privacy rights.

NYC Public School Parents: Parents beware! NY and eight other states plan to share your child's confidential school records with private corporations without your consent! http://shar.es/4MNTS

Ms. Irby asked about procedures safeguarding information or being able to opt children out of data gathering.  Has the school board answered her questions?

Another Teacher Questions Common Core Spin

An experienced teacher cuts through the phrases bantered around by the CCSS proponents and asks questions on the viability of the initiative to deliver the educational promises it proclaims.  From smartblogs.com and Mark Barnes in Can education reform and the common core coexist?:

My stance on legitimate education reform is clear: testing, standardization and accountability inhibit learning and should be abolished, and teachers should be inspired to create vibrant, chaotic, collaborative, technology-rich classrooms that encourage a thirst for learning. Although I preach incessantly that teachers must not allow standards and testing to impinge upon creativity, I still wonder how progressive education and the common core can coexist.

I am part of my district’s Common Core Transition Team, which means I’m working with others to develop curriculum based on the new standards. We are told that the common core provides an opportunity to teach students how to think critically. Rigorous nonfiction texts will be used so that deep reading can be accomplished and thoughtful summations can be written. This may sound exciting to someone who hasn’t read the standards and who is mesmerized by the spin doctoring. Once the rhetoric stops, though, even the most casual observer will understand that words and phrases like “rigorous” and “deep reading” are euphemisms for “boring” and “guided reading,” neither of which lends itself to education reform.

So, prior to returning to my creations, which are driven by my own personal and professional standards rather than those mandated by the government, I contemplate this overwhelming issue. If educators are stuck with the common core and will eventually be evaluated on how well students perform on the tests that accompany it, how is a progressive, student-centered learning environment to survive? Will teachers be willing to extend their own professional development and hard work beyond what is provided by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College (PARCC), which governs the CCSS and the assessments? Will students be relegated to months of rigor, deep reading and test preparation, in lieu of collaboration, project-based learning and independent reading?

Read more here.

Then read Mark Garrison's written testimony on CCSS from a politically structured perspective:

While the federal Department of Education is in violation of the law, the CCSSI
represents something worse than a “federal power grab.” In fact, the illegal power of
the federal government has been used to remove public power over education at the
local, state and federal level and place it in the hands of four private (501c3)
publically unaccountable corporations, who have strong connections to test publishers
and the big private philanthropies secretly driving education reform. They are: the
National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers
(CCSSO), and the two assessment apparatuses, the Partnership for Readiness for
College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
Most telling is that the Common Core State Standards, standards that now govern
curriculum, instruction and assessment across the country, are jointly “owned” by the
NGA Center for Best Practices and the CCSSO! Both federal and state legislatures,
not to mention local school boards, are complete removed from having a say. 

Maybe the first question asked should be why was CCSS allowed to be adopted by circumventing the legislative process?  Instead of worrying if CCSS and education can coexist, shouldn't we be worried that we now have a nationalized educational system that doesn't respond to local concerns?

If the teachers feel left out of the process of delivering education, imagine how the taxpayers feel of having to pay for a system in which they have no decision making.  All the system wants is their children and their money but not their ideas/plans on the educational delivery/content for their children.

Friday, March 22, 2013

US Department of Education Offers Encouraging Quote from Communist Leader Mao Zedong...

...then deletes it.

From BuzzFeed.com and Department Of Education Website Quotes Mao Zedong:

The “Kids' Zone” of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website, part of the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, quotes communist leader Mao Zedong. The NCES is the“primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.” Update: The quote has been removed. 

Find the screenshots here.

Below is a biography of Mao from pitara.com for kids which favorably portrays his policies of anti-capitalism and communistic political philosophy:

Mao's uniqueness as a leader is evident from his commitment to continued class struggle under socialism - a view confirmed in his theoretical treatise "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People" (1957). Dissatisfaction with the slowness of development, the loss of revolutionary momentum in the countryside, and the tendency for CCP members to behave like a privileged class led Mao to take a number of unusual initiatives in the late 1950s. In the Hundred Flowers movement of 1956-57 he encouraged intellectuals to make constructive criticism of the party's stewardship. When the criticism came, it revealed deep hostility to CCP leadership. At about the same time, Mao accelerated the transformation of rural ownership by calling for the elimination of the last vestiges of rural private property and the formation of people's communes, and for the initiation of rapid industrial growth through a program known as the Great Leap Forward. The suddenness of these moves led to administrative confusion and popular resistance. Furthermore, adverse weather conditions resulted in disastrous crop shortfalls, severe food shortages, and a famine that cost many millions of lives. All these reverses cost Mao his position as chief of state, and his influence over the party was severely curtailed. It was also during the late 1950s that Mao's government began to reveal its deep-seated differences with the USSR.
During the 1960s, Mao made a comeback, attacking the party leadership through a Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which peaked from 1966 to 1969. As tensions mounted and events threatened to get out of hand, Mao was obliged to rely increasingly on the military, under the leadership of Lin Biao (Lin Piao).

Interestingly enough, it fails to mention the millions of people he had killed from 1958-62 who opposed his regime and assigns the cause of deaths to famine and adverse weather conditionsFrom the independentuk.com and Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years':

Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.
For more in-depth conversation of Mao's slaughter of 45 million people, read an interview of Mr Dikötter from abc.net here.

Why would you suppose the DOEd and a kid's website would promote Mao's theories to American students without informing them of Mao's extermination of 45 million people?  Don't you think that might be an important piece of history when learning about Mao?

This should cause parents great concern.  pitara.com is listed as a Common Core aligned resource.

Below is one district using pitara.com as a CCSS resource.  KECSS is the Kingsborough Early College Secondary School (NYC) and UFT is United Federation of Teachers.

Welcome to the KECSS UFT Teacher Center!


Common Core Resources

You can visit the follow sites for non-fiction texts, lesson ideas, and general information regarding the CCLS:

Common Core Library:


Achieve the Core

Engage NY:

Mathematics Assessment Project:


Non-fiction Text Sets from the Reading and Writing Project:





Scholastic Non-fiction Texts:


The Current Events Newspaper for Kids:


The Student News Net:


Science News for Kids:


PBS Teacher Page:


PBS News Hour:


Education World: (Non-fiction texts, lesson plans)


Library of Congress Primary Source Documents and Teaching Resources:


Lesson Plans and Resources from SAS Curriculum Pathways (Free Subscription Required):


National Geographic for Kids:


DOGO News:


The Why Files?:  The Science Behind the News:


Time for Kids:


Pitara Kids Network:


CNN Student News:


Washington Post for Kids:


The Learning Network:  Using the New York Times to Teach:


News Wordles:


Search "pitara.com and common core" to find other schools using pitara as a CCSS aligned resource.

Teacher Common Core Survey Results

From Utah:
 Utah teachers speak out against common core --anonymously-- on this survey just released today.  
Some comments from the survey:

I opposed Common Core Standards and assessments because they are poorly considered.  The language standard is based upon whole language methods which have a long history of being ineffective and even harmful to developing language skills.  The math standards are likewise proven faulty.  Other standards in Literature, Handwriting, etc. are not based upon sound reasoning.  I fully accept that individuals may use these systems if they disagree with me.  I do not see that one viewpoint should be imposed universally.  The decision about education content, standards and methods would be better accomplished on a more localized and individual level than it is now, not on a more centrist level.  Government agencies have not been demonstrated to manage education well and have no right engaging in the kind of tracking, evaluation and directing of students that has been proposed.


Reading under the Common Core is very boring for both the student and the teacher.  The students read for a few minutes and then are tested (constantly).  I love reading but I hate this approach.  There is no chance to get into the story and really enjoy learning to read.  Math has been made into a complicated mess, for example rather than carry the 10 over into the 10′s column, the student must rearrange the numbers into 10′s and ones and then add.  This confuses the student and isn’t necessary.  I especially hate that the testing is based completely on the Common Core.

privacy issues; too much testing; too much indoctrination; math is arbitrary and haphazard in intro of ideas and execution; much curriculum is age inappropriate-some too advanced, some too easy, again it is haphazard

These are tales from the classroom/school, not news releases from the two private trade organizations that created the standards, the National Governors Association and The Council of Chief State School Officers.  The news releases gush with the wonders of CCSS and how they will transform education for the better.  What the news releases don't tell the public is that the standards/assessments (not field tested or researched based) are privately owned and copyrighted and cannot be altered in any manner or held legally responsible if the standards do not deliver as promised.  From corestandards.org:

Representations, Warranties and Disclaimer:


Limitation on Liability:


If you are a teacher/administrator in Missouri, you are invited to take this anonymous survey on your experience with Common Core State Standards.

Common Core Editorials and PR Pieces: Give us "Just the Facts". No More Spin.

Message to Common Core proponents:  No more spin.

Common Core proponents love to tout their educational reform as providing "data driven" instruction and this increased testing and data mining will create smarter students.  It's a pity and educational malfeasance that their arguments and policies are not supported by data and research.  This editorial from az.central.com  Common Core is right path is a prime example of statements disguised as fact and contempt for those who dare to question the policy and process of the adoption/implementation of  the standards: 

Fill in the blank. Decisions about Arizona public education should be based on:

Conspiracy theories.
Distrust of Uncle Sam.
The needs of 21st-century students.
If you picked No. 3, please contact the Legislature.

Taxpayers, organizations and legislators asking questions about CCSS are portrayed as conspiracy theorists and haters of the government.  Only those who are concerned about students are the pro-CCSS folks.  This is the argument the CCSS proponents use against those who dare to ask questions on how public education is developed/directed and by whom.  Read the rest here.

Don't let editorials and press releases stand without providing the facts.  If you read something online that is not factual but disguised as such, challenge those editorials.  You have the tools to do it.  The pro-CCSS side has their talking points, as does the anti-CCSS camp, but the difference is, CCSS opponents have research and data to confirm their opinions.  It's inexcusable and indefensible that an educational policy that demands data driven student results doesn't have any data to support its own theories.  And that's all CCSS is.  Theories.  No data.  

Here's MEW's response to azcentral's opinion piece.  Add your own.

With all due respect, this is an article that sounds like a press release for Common Core proponents.  State decisions on education should be made by the states.  These standards have been crafted by two PRIVATE trade organizations, the NGA and the CCSSO.  They have not been field tested nor are they based on research.  The standards/assessments are privately copyrighted, so if/when Arizona school districts find standards/assessments that don't work for Arizona children, THEY ARE POWERLESS TO CHANGE any standards/assessments.

That is not state control and attempts to disguise it as such should be grounds for litigation.  Conspiracy theories? Distrust of Uncle Sam?  There is a deep anger among folks who have actually studied the process of CCSS adoption, which can be described as stimulus funding that set this up without legislative oversight.  Conspiracy?  No, the process is well documented  on who is profiting from this transformation of education and it is not the students or the teachers.  The profiteers are the computer suppliers, the assessment writers while the taxpayer is mandated to provide the additional funding not covered by stimulus funding.

Where is the journalistic tradition of conveying both sides of the story?  Did you ask any "conspirators" questions on their facts/research, or did the writer just ask the pro-CCSS contingency for their opinions?  From the article:  "The document drips with concerns about such perceived threats as a database “to track our students — from preschool through college!” (Exclamation point in original!)

Such a database is essential to the kind of meaningful accountability conservatives say they want in education. But, hey, hyperbole happens. "

Your "conspirator" is actually correct on this data tracking as noted in this DOEd article:


Opinion pieces are great and should be encouraged.  Everybody has opinions but when the opinions are presented without facts and research, they need to be challenged.  If "meaningful accountability" entails " a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors, attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability that high achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success", it's not only conservatives who should be concerned.  Susan Ohanian and Diane Ravitch have also raised similar concerns about data tracking and they would not be considered conservatives.

And please tell us, why won't anyone ask exactly what  "21st Century needs" looks like?  How can you craft educational policy around jobs/needs that aren't even in existence or are unknown?

Bring back Joe Friday.  "Just the facts, ma'am".  Then we can have a productive discussion on Common Core. But to label people conspirators and government haters because they ask questions and provide research proving CCSS claims fallacious is unprofessional and should be challenged.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is DESE telling the truth on Common Core Standards?

James Shuls, education policy analyst at Show-Me Institute, finds claims that the Common Core State Standards will not influence instructional practices downright disingenuous and obviously false.

He writes in Jay P. Greene's blog an article challenging Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's claims that CCSS will not affect curriculum.  From Constructive Criticism for Common Core Constructivism Deniers:

In a recent Twitter exchange, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education informed me that the CCSS don’t “tell teachers how to teach.” This is a phrase that has been echoing across the country as the Common Core has come under attack from the left and the right.

The fact is that curriculum standards don’t tell teachers how to teach in the same way that a high jump bar doesn’t tell a jumper how to jump. You could theoretically jump over a high jump bar in whatever way you would like; but because of how the jump is structured there is a clear advantage to doing the old Fosbury Flop.

It is clear from documents on the Common Core website and from the discourse throughout the country that these new standards encourage constructivist teaching practices. Take for example these two quotes from a Key Points in Common Core Math document.

  • The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels ‐ rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review again the following year.
  • Having built a strong foundation K‐5, students can do hands on learning in geometry, algebra and probability and statistics. Students who have completed 7th grade and mastered the content and skills through the 7th grade will be well‐ prepared for algebra in grade 8.
Common Core developers themselves are saying that traditional methods of math instruction aren’t working and students should be learning through “hands on learning.” It is reasonable to assume the tests will likely favor constructivist teaching practices.
Read more here.

Check out Shuls' twitter feed and particularly this tweet:

Me: "Where does the curriculum come from?" Principal: "Common Core State Standards" Direct quote
Wonder how DESE will spin that tweet?

inBloom Student and Teacher Data Mining "Sandbox" Segment


inBloom is bringing together states and districts from across the country to improve and align technology systems and teaching resources. There is no reason why each state should have to tackle this challenge alone – together, we have the potential to change the way education works for students on a large scale.

- Gene Wilhoit, CEO of the Center for Innovation in Education and former Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers...from our vision at inBloom

The real reason for Common Core?  It's for the data.  The data will change the way education works for students.  It's easier to track human capital in an educational system that's aligned with other states.  Think inventory tracking and control and you've discovered the ultimate goal of Common Core.  Think about inBloom's vision: personal path, common ground

How can a student have a personal path within a common system?

What does inBloom want to know about your student to provide this personal path within a prescribed system of education? This article has a screenshot from inBloom showing partial data sets. From nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot:



 inBloom's student and teacher data screenshots

Thanks to our work and the advocacy of parents and teachers across the city, many parents now know that inBloom, Inc, the Gates-funded organization, is being paid to hold and share student (and teacher) personally-identifiable data with for-profit vendors (read more about inBloom here). However, most people don't know how personal and confidential this data is. 
InBloom, Inc. has a sample "sandbox" segment on their web page meant "for developers" to show them what data will be made available to them to build their software "tools" around.
Under the “medium” data set, we find that student names, addresses, emails, latitude and longitude of their homes and schools, phone numbers, test scores, grades, race, economic status, photos, detailed disciplinary records, special education services and medical conditions are all included. 
Check out the screen shots below to see more. 

Name, address, email, student picture, race, economic status, free lunch status, race, language needs and whether the child is in foster care or not.

 Detailed disciplinary record, including whether the incident was reported to the police and whether there was a weapon involved.  This sort of record if leaked out could seriously damage a student's prospects whether or not any arrest or conviction ever occurred. 

Whether the student has a developmental delay, is in athletics, or has a medical condition or not. Even specific enough to ask what the child's learning style is. 

 Also collecting teacher data, including name, address, latitude and longitude of teacher's home.


Is all this information necessary (or legal) for the government to gather on children and supply to private companies?  What does this have to do with education?  Where is the parental consent for this information to be gathered and disseminated?  Why are teachers home addresses, including latitude and longitude of their home, entered in such a database? 

What happens if this "sandbox" is a sandbox in which a parent/child doesn't want to be placed?  What happens if the "personal path" is indeed not in the "common ground" chosen by the NGA and CCSSO?  inBloom would implode because there isn't any way to track the human capital.

As we asked yesterday, where is the "Do-Not-Track Common Core Data Act of 2013"?  Why aren't politicians concerned about inBloom's invasive data mining disguised as helping children and teachers?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where's the "Do-Not-Track Common Core Data Act of 2013?"

Jay Rockefeller introduced a "no tracking" bill (Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013) to "prescribe regulations regarding the collection and use of personal information obtained by tracking the online activity of an individual, and for other purposes." 

From calpirg.org and Free Cookies-Strings Attached:
Recently West Virginia’s Senator John D. Rockefeller, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee,  proposed the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013. The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish standards allowing internet users to set their web browsers to tell websites, advertising networks, data brokers and other online entities that they do not want to be tracked online for commercial data mining. The bill would also instruct the FTC to draft rules to enforce users’ requests to opt out of such tracking. The bill largely follows the recommendations of a recent FTC Report, which stated that the commission seeks “implementation of an easy-to-use, persistent, and effective Do Not Track system.”

It is time for lawmakers to debate and pass robust Do-Not-Track legislation to protect consumers. The Rockefeller proposal offers a good start toward that debate.

The Obama Administration in December 2012 took action to protect children from internet data mining.  From yahoo.com and Changes in law aim to protect kids' online data:

Aiming to prevent companies from exploiting online information about children under 13, the Obama administration on Wednesday imposed sweeping changes in regulations designed to protect a young generation with easy access to the Internet.

Two years in the making, the amended rules to the decade-old Children's Online Privacy Protection Act go into effect in July. Privacy advocates said the changes were long overdue in an era of cellphones, tablets, social networking services and online stores with cellphone apps aimed at kids for as little as 99 cents.

Siphoning details of children's personal lives — their physical location, contact information, names of friends and more — from their Internet activities can be highly valuable to advertisers, marketers and data brokers.

As evidence of online risks, the FTC last week said it was investigating an unspecified number of software developers that may have illegally gathered information without the consent of parents.

Under the changes to the law, known as COPPA, information about children that cannot be collected unless a parent first gives permission now includes the location data that a cellphone generates, as well as photos, videos and audio files containing a human image or voice.

The Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus commended the FTC for writing the new rules. "Keeping kids safe on the Internet is as important as ensuring their safety in schools, in homes, in cars," caucus co-chairman Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

It is commendable that the Obama Administration, Senator Rockefeller, Representative Markey and the FTC want to protect children's privacy on the Internet.

Does this concern extend to children's privacy on their educational data?  Is the Obama Administration, Senator Rockefeller, Representative Markey and the FTC concerned at all about the 3,000 data points gathered on each student and his/her teachers via Common Core and shared with federal agencies and private organizations?

We would suggest the Obama Administration, The Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus and Senator Rockefeller investigate the data mining allowable on students due to the revisions (not legislative changes) to the FERPA regulations promoted by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The information/data gathered on their children just because they attend a public school is being distributed to unknown parties without the consent of parents.  Why is Internet privacy being safeguarded but not educational privacy?  

As the FTC chairman commented:

"You may not track children to build massive profiles," he said.

Well, that's exactly what's happening in the data mining on students via Common Core.  What's the difference between internet data mining and CCSS data mining?  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who Endorses Common Core and Who Opposes It?

Missouri DESE published a news release stating it had over 400 endorsements supporting Common Core State Standards.  From dese.com:

More than 400 school districts, businesses, individuals, and colleges and universities have stepped forward to endorse Missouri’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards for math and English language arts.

The Common Core State Standards have been endorsed by more than 200 Missouri school districts, 90 individuals, 50 educational organizations, 40 businesses and business organizations, and 35 institutions of higher education. A complete list of endorsements is available at dese.mo.gov/documents/CCSS-Support-lists.pdf.

What DESE doesn't tell you is that school board members were not asked to sign this letter of CCSS endorsement in some (if not the majority) of the school districts. From Missouri Coalition Against Common Core:

On March 6th, DESE distributed an information packet to House members stating their opposition to HB616. Included in that packet was a list of approximately 60 school districts who appear to support DESE's Statement. In at least two of those districts, the school board was never asked to vote on their support for DESE's statement. The superintendent alone gave DESE permission to list his district. This happened in Lindbergh and Kirkwood school districts. Was your district listed without School Board approval? (see list below)

Do you or your school board members agree that your superintendent can speak unilaterally for your district on questions of policy? If not, your school board needs to make it clear to your superintendent when they can make these decisions alone and when they must get Board approval. They will only be accountable to the public if they are held accountable.

Here is a list of Anti-Common Core signatures that DESE probably won't issue in an agency news release:

  • http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/Gidseg.pdf
  • http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/Horwitz.pdf
  • http://www.edweek.org/media/joint_statement_on_core_standards.pdf
  • http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/pdf/pdf_files/comments_signers.pdf
  • http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/Miller_4_23_10.pdf
  • http://www.k12innovation.com/Manifesto/_V2_Home.html

These lists don't include the signatures of Missouri citizens (not businesses or organizations receiving financial rewards for CCSS implementation) opposing Common Core standards.  You can find Support Local Control of Education - Get Missouri Out Of Common Core here.

DESE also makes statements in the release that are not researched based and factual such as:

The Common Core State Standards will also help make Missouri students competitive in a globally recruited workforce, said David Russell, commissioner of higher education.

“Implementing the Common Core State Standards will lower remediation rates, increase rates of college completion and provide significant savings to students, their families and the state,” Russell said. “The standards are essential if we are to increase the number of Missourians with a college degree, which translates to almost a million more dollars in lifetime earnings for the student and a more robust economy for the state.”

Mr. Russell's statements are supposition and his claims are unproven and untested.  If these individuals, corporations, superintendents and institutions of higher education endorsed an initiative not supported by facts and research, taxpayers should demand answers from them why they signed this support statement of non researched and unpiloted educational jargon.  

Read DESE's letter of support.  Then ask these questions:

  • Would you sign a support statement for a state agency that signed on to standards and assessments that had not even been written? 
  • Would you sign a support statement for programs that had not been field tested?
  • Would you sign a support statement that allowed for private trade organizations to set the standards for your state's educational standards and assessments and your school and district could not alter?
  • Would you sign a support statement for unfunded debt to be borne by your school district without nary a vote from a taxpayer? 
  • Would you sign a support statement that would allow your district to release personal data (up to 3,000 data sets according to data retrieval company eScholar) on your child and teachers?

If the answer to above questions are "no"...and because your child is not common, please support the effort to stop implementation of Common Core State Standards in Missouri on Missouri Coalition Against Common Core State Standards.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Illinois Superintendent Denies Parental Right to Opt Student Out of Common Core

from:  http://www.areweawareyet.com/29241/illinois-parents-denied-request-that-their-daughter-be-placed-in-classroom-not-using-common-core-standards/

Where does your school stand on this issue?  Do you have any parental/taxpayer rights in your local school district?  Apparently the goal of SBAC or PARCC of the implementation of CCSS (without a single vote of taxpayers/parents) supersedes taxpayer/parental requests.

Let's start a list.  Darcy Benway, Superintendent of O'Fallon Township High School is our first superintendent on record supporting a nationalized educational system and denying a true personalized education for a child.  That child MUST follow a common educational path and his/her information will be data mined.  That child is having to partake in an unfunded and unpiloted educational experience.

What shall we call our list of superintendents not protecting children, but rather, the bureaucrats and education reformers determined to nationalize education for the sake of data and profit?

Could eScholar Data Mining on "Bobby" be Considered Stalking?

Should stalking awareness include the information gathered on your child and disseminated without parental knowledge and/or consent?

Common Core and the revision of FERPA by the US Department of Education allows intensive data mining and sharing of student information to various federal agencies and private firms selected the the USDOEd.  The company eScholar is one education reform company eager and ready to data mine information on students.  From wsj.com and Education Data Companies Chosen, 08.13.2012:

New York state education officials Monday said they selected four companies to build a broad education database that will host students' test scores, curriculum materials and education apps, paid for by up to $50 million in federal Race to the Top funds.

The state Education Department said that by fall 2013, school districts will be able to use one of the data systems created by either ConnectEDU, eScholar or Pearson PLC and its subsidiary Schoolnet.

The systems are supposed to store student test scores, student demographic information, curriculum materials, lesson plans and other items that teachers or parents can access. Companies will get paid, in part, based on how many school districts select their data system.

It's financially lucrative for data mining companies to compile student data and advantageous for them to have start up funding provided by taxpayer money. eScholar has produced a video about "Bobby", a hypothetical student the company is tracking.  From the eScholar website:

"Have you met Bobby yet?"

Meet Bobby, the newest member of the eScholar myTrack team. We think that educators have a lot of students like Bobby, students who have things that they want to do, but aren’t always sure how to get there. Check out the video to see how Bobby and his team of supporters use myTrack to help him reach his goals. What do you think? Do you have any students like Bobby?  

eScholar is a company that received federal stimulus dollars to track your child without your knowledge or permission.  Could such behavior and practice be considered not just data mining but stalking?

"Stalking" is the term commonly used to refer to a pattern of behavior directed towards an individual by another that results in the person to whom the behavior is directed fearing for themselves and/or others. The behaviors can involve overtly criminal behavior or seemingly non-criminal, innocent behavior or both. Stalking can escalate and ultimately result in actual physical harm to its intended subject.

In contrast to many other criminal offenses, stalking involves repeated victimization of the targeted individual. Stalking, therefore, is a series of acts or a course of conduct and never a single incident. Another contrast between other criminal offenses and stalking is the attention placed on the impact of the actions on the victim in stalking situations.
Here are two examples of stalking from the article:

...The series of events or acts that comprise stalking can involve a mix of criminal acts and acts which, when viewed in isolation, could be seen as perhaps being innocent or non-threatening. Generally, stalking can include:

  • Monitoring the victim's internet history and/or computer usage  
  • Disseminating personal information about the victim to others 

Should the tracking of student academic and non-academic information and sharing it with federal agencies and private organizations without parental/student knowledge/permission be allowed?  How is the difference in the dissemination of personal information about "Bobby" to others and monitoring "Bobby's" computer usage via the relaxation of FERPA any different than the definition of how stalkers operate?

Here's an example of what eScholar will gather on "Bobby" and why:

Enabling P-20 Data Warehousing

Today, a consensus has emerged amongst educators at all levels that there is a need to create an LDS that provides a comprehensive view of education from early childhood through postsecondary and beyond (P-20). This capability is essential to maximizing the effectiveness of our efforts to encourage every student to achieve his or her greatest potential. A key element of this LDS is a comprehensive data warehouse that supports the data requirements of the P-20 world. With the introduction of CDW-PS, which integrates with our eScholar Uniq-ID® products supporting unique identification and ID management of individuals from early childhood through postsecondary, eScholar now has a complete solution for a P-20 data warehouse. The data model for the CDW-PS product is specifically designed to integrate with the eScholar Complete Data Warehouse® for PK-12 product to create a comprehensive LDS of over 3,000 data elements encompassing student and teacher academic history from pre-K through higher education. This powerful combination enables SEAs to answer key P-20 questions through one software product solution. 

The goal of data mining children from eScholar sure sounds noble, innocent and non-threatening.   The video celebrates the collaboration of teachers, principals and supporters helping "Bobby" to set his goals.  It's sold to districts and parents to ensure the student responds well to structured assessments and behaviors determined to be acceptable to the government's rubrics.

eScholar is a company funded by government money to gather over 3000 data points on your child and teachers so your child doesn't get "off track".  Since when did the government start tracking human behavior and making the determination of what is "off track" and what is a child's "greatest potential"?  Isn't that up to the child and his/her parents?

Can anyone answer this question?  How can eScholar offer a "personalized track" for "Bobby" when "Bobby" is stuck in a "common" educational system?

Watch the CEO's speech at the White House on his view of data and why he believes it is important to track individual data on each student.  Again, it sounds noble, innocent and non-threatening.  A student's future is dependent on the data.  At 9:25 he mentions how  Common Core ties this all together.  A student must determine if his/her goals are  successfully tied into a common skill set.  

What do you think would happen and what could go wrong if "Bobby's" strongest skills and talents did not align with the Common Core skill set prescribed by SBAC or PARCC?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Data Collection Gets High Tech and Personal

How many of us heard, as a child growing up, that we were not living up to our potential? I remember taking some comfort in the belief that the person doing the chastising had no idea what my potential was and that I was perfectly happy with my level of performance. A young child's world of rationalization, true, but it was based in my following my definition of happiness. Like most kids I resisted efforts to push my performance beyond levels I felt I was ready for. Like most kids I pushed myself when I was finally physically, intellectually and emotionally ready to do so and I achieved some level of success  that ultimately made me happy.

The US Department Of Education released a draft report last month that arrogantly says they believe they can determine what your success looks like and therefore what potential you must reach in order to be deemed successful. The report defines success as performing "for the benefit of everyone in society." Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century, February 14, 2013 details the vision for collecting data to help the system help children become high achieving individuals. "There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors, attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability that high achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success."

To do this they will need to collect more data than just standardized test scores. The report goes on to spell out exactly where they see all this data collection going. If I've learned anything through my research it is to believe the academic intelligentsia ensconced in our government bureaucracies when they say they want to do something. One way or another, they will find a way to do it. That is what makes this report by the USDoEd so disturbing.

I credit our folks over in Oklahoma at ROPE for uncovering this. The report tells what data gathering tools the government envisions using in the future and what data on student learning those tools hope to collect. "Data mining techniques can track students’ trajectories of persistence and learning over time, thereby providing actionable feedback to students and teachers." Here is just a sample of what they envision collecting:
  • "functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and physiological indicators offer insight into the biology and neuroscience underlying observed student behaviors.
  • Researchers can examine consistency in participant’s ratings to determine the strength of the belief or skill. Self-report can also be used to measure process constructs; for example, in the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), participants typically carry around a handheld device that “beeps” them at random intervals, prompting self-report of experiences in that moment (e.g., Hektner, Schmidt, & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007). Such data can be used to make inferences about emotions, thoughts,and behaviors within and across specific situations.
  • Sensors (attached to the student) provide constant, parallel streams of data and are used with data mining techniques and self-report measures to examine frustration, motivation/flow, confidence, boredom, and fatigue. [plan for the]... development of systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process, and simulate aspects of human affect. Emotional or physiological variables can be used to enrich the understanding and usefulness of behavioral indicators. Discrete emotions particularly relevant to reactions to challenge -- such as interest, frustration, anxiety, and boredom -- may be measured through analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, heart rate variability, posture, and eye-tracking.
  • The MIT Media Lab Mood Meter (Hernandez, Hoque, & Picard, n.d.) is a device that can be used to detect emotion (smiles) among groups. The Mood Meter includes a camera and a laptop. The camera captures facial expressions, and software on the laptop extracts geometric properties on faces (like distance between corner lips and eyes) to provide a smile intensity score. While this type of tool may not be necessary in a small class of students, it could be useful for examining emotional responses in informal learning environments for large groups, like museums."It's not a field trip. It's a data gathering session. 
  • Another source of data about students’ perseverance is school records about grades, standardized test scores, attendance, dropping-out, discipline problems, social services used, and so on. 

As we have said, the data tracking wiht Common Core is setting up the infrastructure to facilitate the easy collection of data on our students for someone else's benefit. "The Expanding Evidence report points to important trends in the availability and application of technology-supported institutional-level data for supporting at-risk students (U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2013). Data at the institutional level is becoming increasingly streamlined and cross-referenced, improving the capacity to link student data within and across systems."

They will examine your data to see where you are deficient (their definition of deficient) and provide additional resources so you can reach the level of proficiency they have decided in the time frame they determine. Sounds like they are just ignoring the Declaration of Independence, although that just makes sense. They are setting up a system to make everyone dependent on the government.

I wonder if the geniuses developing all these testing techniques and data gathering modes have stopped long enough to consider what their data may find. Because their collection scope is so all encompassing, their data may actually prove that not everyone is equal and some people have no hope of achieving the same level of "success" as others. They will prove there is an inferior human. What will they do then?

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