"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, June 1, 2013

Will Your Child's Iris Scans Head for the Clouds....Like the Army's?

What is the Learning Registry gathering and sharing?

Why is the Department of Defense partially funding the Learning Registry?

The practice of iris scans being taken on children for "bus information and safety" was confirmed by the Polk County Board of Education.  These scans were performed and parental consent was not asked for nor given before the scans took place.  The company has assured parents the information has been destroyed but how does a parent know if this is true?  If information is sent to the cloud or stored elsewhere electronically, is it ever eliminated completely?  Who/what has access to this student biometric information?  Is there a digital footprint (or eye scan) student dossier hovering somewhere?

Gathering of biometric information and storing it in the cloud is not confined to the education industry.  The Army is also utilizing iris scans for data.  From Army’s Fingerprint and Iris Databases Head for the Cloud:

The next time U.S. soldiers snap a picture of your eye or scan your face, they’re likely to store all that personal, physical data in the cloud. 

The Army’s Intelligence command recently awarded a sole-source contract to bring the classified Defense Cross-Domain Analytical Capability, a database storing various kinds of security-relevant information the Army collects, onto the proverbial “cloud” of distributed servers and networks. Among the focuses of the project: “integrating Biometrics into the cloud,” according to a description of the contract.

The effort “involves the Entity management and tracking system for Biometrics/Human Terrain Facial recognition capability (photos, video) and edge-to-Cloud Enterprise Messaging (Corps/Division Node to/from Handheld,” says the Army Intelligence and Security Command. “Human Terrain” refers to an Army program in Iraq and Afghanistan that sought to map unfamiliar tribal networks and other social structures. Integrating that into an intelligence database is a major shift, but more on that in a second. 

"Human Terrain" might be an apt name for tracking students as well.  Student iris scans and fingerprinting provides unique identifiers for students ostensibly for safety and speed of lunch lines.  But how else could biometric information be used in the future?  Could it be used for intelligence purposes or for other tracking purposes?  Could students be part of a "targeting cycle" in the future? 

...the military is into biometrics in a big way. It’s created and maintained biometrics databases containing literally millions of iris and fingerprint scans from Iraqis and Afghans. The Iraq database has outlasted the Iraq war: it resides permanently at U.S. Central Command in Tampa.
Evidently unsatisfied with the clunky ViewFinder-esque mobile tools for collecting biometric data in the field, in February the Pentagon inked a $3 million research deal with California’s AOptix to check out its smartphone-based biometric identifier, built on an iPhone and iOS. Then there’s all the Pentagon’s additional research into identifying people by the unique pungencies of their body odor and the ways they walk.

It’s worth noting that the architects of the Army’s star-crossed “human terrain” mapping, a much-criticized attempt at warzone anthropology, swore up and down that their interviews with tribal leaders had nothing to do with gathering intelligence. That distinction had much to do with the distaste many anthropologists had with working alongside the military, but architects Montgomery McFate and Steve Fondacaro said they weren’t spying because they weren’t part of the military’s “targeting cycle.”

“[G]iven the vast collection and reporting effort that supports lethal targeting, using HTS [the Human Terrain System] to fulfill this function would be redundant and duplicative,” they wrote in 2012. (.PDF) “Whereas [human intelligence] requires highly specific information about individuals in order to capture or kill, social science, as practiced in HTS, seeks broad contextual information for nonlethal purposes.”

The biometric information for the Army identifies adversaries but using this information for social science purposes requires broad contextual information to be valid.  Think about the combining of student iris scans/fingerprints/ healthcare information with educational/personal information data tracking.  Will the 400 plus points National Education Data Model data set be combined with student biometric information?  

Does this Army scanning and fingerprinting align itself with the educational practice of student tracking?  There is a relationship between the Learning Registry and the Department of Defense:

The Learning Registry is a joint effort of the Department of Education and the Department of Defense, with support of the White House and numerous federal agencies, non-profit organizations, international organizations and private companies.
Key members of the collaboration are:
This effort, begun in 2010, is creating a set of technical protocols as a platform for innovation by content authors and aggregators. Applications built to harness the power of harvesting and analyzing the Learning Registry data will allow educators to quickly find content specific to their unique needs. The Learning Registry will store more than traditional descriptive data (metadata)--it will also allow sharing of ratings, comments, downloads, standards alignment, etc.
This effort has been driven by a call for increased openness, sharing and use of digital learning resources as described in both the National Education Technology Plan and National Broadband Plan. The specifications have been developed to support learning organizations from across all education sectors.

What is the Learning Registry?

The Learning Registry is a new approach to capturing, sharing, and analyzing learning resource data to broaden the usefulness of digital content to benefit educators and learners. The Learning Registry: Use, Share, Find, Amplify.

The Learning Registry is not a website or repository… it's not a search engine… and it's not a replacement for the excellent sources of online learning content that already exist…

The Learning Registry is an open source technical system designed to facilitate the exchange of data behind the scenes, and an open community of resource creators, publishers, curators, and consumers who are collaborating to broadly share resources, as well as information about how those resources are used by educators in diverse learning environments across the Web.

Is this why FERPA regulations needed to be changed by Arne Duncan?  If the Department of Defense is contributing to an educational system of data gathering, wouldn't the DOD want access to determine the effectiveness of the system?  Do you think it would also want access to the data?  Will your child's data eventually be stored at the US Central Command in Tampa?  Did parents ever give consent for any of this biometric information be taken from their children?

Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Logue, G (June 2013). "Will Your Child's Iris Scans Head for the Clouds...Like the Army's?".  Retrieved (date) from the Missouri Education Watchdog site: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/


Friday, May 31, 2013

My Conversation with Glenn Beck on Data Retrieval. Just Remember The Wizard of Oz.

I had a great time  yesterday meeting with others from around the nation and talking about how to halt the implementation of Common Core.  About thirty people met in Dallas at Glenn Beck's studio, brainstormed for several hours, and were guests/audience members on the television show following our meeting.   

The main topic was the data mining (and use of the data) done via Common Core.  An interesting question on the show came when Beck played Devil's Advocate and asked "whatever could be wrong with gathering data on your child?  We (the government) can help so much more if we have your child's information".  This was similar to the question Representative Margo McNeill asked me in the Missouri House hearing on SB210.  She asked,  "what is your worst case scenario with the data gathering?"

Aside from the fact that a government official makes the assumption that government has the right to take personal information from a citizen for its purposes, my response to her, and to Beck's question is very simple.  Look at the IRS scandal.  Certain groups/people were targeted by the IRS based on their data.  This data gathering identified certain groups/people for government inquiry and scrutiny.  Tax-exempt status was withheld for many of these groups/people because of their data. 

The same scenario is a real possibility for targeting specific groups of students (or individual students) for government reasons, whatever those reasons may be.   Whether you think these reasons are valid or not, the government has the power to grant or deny favored status to individuals/groups based on whatever it deems appropriate.  We've seen it happen in the IRS.  It's not just speculation.

I was able to meet Beck after the show and chatted with him about how to answer his Devil's Advocate question.  (It was an honor meeting him and I am very appreciative of his efforts to help in the anti-CCSS effort).  It's a simple answer (in the form of a question) to those who ask why you would ever resist invasive data mining.  Based on your data set, you may be asked this "Glinda" question:

Are you a "good witch" or "bad witch"? 

Your data can determine if you are a government targeted subgroup or not.  Your answer will depend on which wizard is inhabiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and if you are a "good witch" or a "bad witch".  Data sets and the mining of those data sets will determine if you align yourself with that administration's beliefs.  If not (whether you are on the left or the right), get ready for the possible scrutiny of federal agencies and/or a presidential administration.  We've seen how data was used by the IRS for its own purposes and the resulting marginalization of certain people/groups.  Why would the Department of Education (or any other federal agency receiving DOEd data) be any different?  

Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Logue, G (May 2013). "My Conversation with Glenn Beck on Data Retrieval.  Just Remember The Wizard of Oz".  Retrieved (date) from the Missouri Education Watchdog site: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/

Glenn Beck On Common Core

Yesterday, The Blaze TV brought together experts from across the country to discuss Common Core. The thirty people assembled in his audience included legislators, citizen activists, grassroots groups, messaging experts and historical experts like MEW editor Gretchen Logue. You can watch the episode on Roku with a Blaze subscription or on-line here on a free trial if you are not a subscriber.

The show focused on the data collection, public private partnership and the lack of local control for education if the structure established with Common Core is allowed to remain.

The stories of citizen activists, like one from Tennessee in this audience, are evidence that something is seriously wrong with Common Core. It is now going into cloak and dagger mode.
A mother in the audience heard about CC, did some of her own research, asked her child's third grade teacher some questions and shared her concerns with other parents she knew from her child's class. She was called into the principals office and told that she should not use her email lists to discuss CC. She said the principal "hoped I wasn't starting some sort of grass roots movement. Whether this was good or bad, the teachers and she work for the state (emphasis added)and that's their priorty so they are going to implement it no matter how good or bad it is. That's their job and that's what they need to do. I was told I am not to talk to any of the teachers about their opinion on common core and what they think."  She got the impression from the school administrator that they were afraid to tell what they really thought about CC for fear of losing their jobs.

Yet we are still expected to believe this is a state led effort that involved input from parents, teachers and administrators in its development!?

The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core continues its efforts to educate the public on Common Core; where it came from, who its architects and promoters are and what their vision for k-12 education in this country is, what promoters claim CC will do vs. what it actually will do and why this is not good policy for primary education.

That teachers, who are required to use only research based curriculum, are being forced to teach standards that have no research base is evidence that the system is out of whack. That school personnel think they have the right or authority to dictate to parents who they can talk to about what is beyond the pale. If this sort of attitude towards the people who have pooled their money to hire these staff to teach their children goes unchecked now, parents will have absolutely NO say in their child's education ever again unless they pull out of public schools.  Common Core may be providing one good thing. It is shining a light on the systematic destruction of parental authority happening in our public schools.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What is going on with special education?

Something is happening with special education. Seemingly random reports are coming in, from parents with children who receive special services from school, showing that those services are changing. Is this part of a bigger picture? 

In one district they are consolidating IEP's for third and fourth graders because they are switching to a "standardized" IEP report. Even teachers are unclear where this "standardized" report form is coming from.

In another district a mother was told her special needs child no longer qualified for the summer program at school, one that he had attended every year previously without the parent even having to request it. The mother might have been content to accept the school's determination that her child no longer showed signs of skill loss following a break, but then she talked to other special needs parents.  It turned out all fifteen children who had been approved for this program before were suddenly "advanced" to no longer needing it. 

A mother in North Carolina petitioned her public school to opt her autistic child out of standardized testing.  She believed the frustration of not being able to pass the test would spur her child into self-harming behavior.  Through the entire chain of authority, all the way up to the superintendent, her request was denied citing federal mandates in No Child Left Behind. Her child would have to take the test, one that he would assuredly fail. That's an interesting requirement in a climate where children's test scores have consequences well beyond the child's academic assessment.

Below is a post from Blue Hat Movement with a video of this particular mom.  From Update and Video: NC Mother of Autistic Child Fights EOG’s:

"What is particularly onerous about her situation is that the school, School Board and Superintendent are going so far out of their way to force her Autistic son to take this test.  No offense meant, but Michelle has guaranteed me that her son cannot pass any version of a state EOG.  They are essentially forcing her son to take a test that he will fail.  This is in light of the fact that his school year has been filled with success.  Michelle went to some lengths to describe to me how many victories there have been for her son this year.  She describes many of them in the video.  I am sharing this video for two reasons.  Michelle personally asked me to do what I could to expose what is happening.  Secondly, this situation truly calls into the light and exaggerates just how misguided testing has become under NCLB and CCS.  Standardized Testing hurts teachers. It reduces the hard work and efforts of your child’s teacher into an assessment designed by people who will NEVER meet either your child or their teacher.  All the amazing things that happened in that classroom…like they have for Michelle’s son, deserve credit.  But with a standardized test, there is none.  The way the Common Core is set up, all that good stuff gets thrown under the school bus.  Testing is all that seems to count.  This is a slap in the face of how hard teachers work.

In fact, under CCS, standardized tests that are scored low, actually count against teachers.  Under Standard 6, teachers are being tested and given a grade based upon how their student’s performed."

It appears, from this video, that this district's interpretation of the requirements of NCLB differ from other districts. Who is right? I'd like to think that these administrators would be more reasonable and exempt this child if they felt the decision was entirely up to them. Where does a parent go to fight a local district's interpretation/implementation of a federal mandate? What would be the incentive to measure the degree to which a special needs child's performance is below that of his/her peers? It is times like these when the words of Linda Darling Hammond and Arne Duncan haunt me: Educational Equity, Redistribution of Resources, Reducing the Performance Gap. What is on the horizon for parents of special needs children?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Florida School Board Confirms They Have Ok'd Iris Scan Without Parental Permission

What would you do if you found out your school scanned your child's iris for the all critical purpose of enabling your child not to have to "carry an identification card?"  Parents in Florida are answering that question today.

A mother in Florida posted last week on Facebook that she thought her third grader had been scanned at school, but she could get no confirmation of that, that is until today when she received this letter from the school board.

In case you couldn't read it, it reads in part,
"The program is called Eye Swipe-nano. It is a safe non-invasive iris reader. It simply takes a picture of the iris, which is unique to every individual. The Eye Swipe-nano is an ideal replacement for the card based system since your child will not have to be responsible for carrying an identification card. With this program, we will be able to identify when and where a student gets on the bus, when they arrive at their school location, when and what bus the student boards and disembarks in the afternoon. This is an effort to further enhance the safety of our students."
Oh, well as long as its non-invasive on the collection part I guess I won't worry that you now have a way to track my child's every location without chipping them. All you need is one of those fancy iris readers that apparently can be installed anywhere. And of course, you have now given my child's uniquely identifiable feature to a private company without my permission. Those companies are never subject to federal requests to turn over data, like say Google or AT&T were.

And who decided this high tech privacy invading solution was needed?  That's right, the transportation department.  Given yesterday's story of a 6 year old boy who was suspended for having a plastic gun the size of a quarter on the bus, I wonder how long parents will continue to allow their children to ride the bus.

Schools regularly operate on the principle of "It is easier to ask forgiveness later than to ask permission beforehand." (Parkway wrist monitors) This culture must be stopped and it's up to parents to stop it. Do not take any government agent's assurance that they will never abuse the privilege of having access to this data. Say it with me, "No data collection on my child without my permission."

Parent Refuses Permission for Child to take Part in Field Testing for Pearson

Another brave parent stands up to the standardized test industry.  From buffalo news. com and ‘Field tests’ raise concerns that school tests are now a corporate product:

A new packet of shrink-wrapped state tests will arrive at hundreds of elementary and middle schools across the region this week.

But these 40-minute tests given in early June won’t count for students or teachers. They’ll test whether a private contractor, Pearson Education, hit the mark when it developed multiple-choice questions for state exams.

It’s exactly the kind of class time parents such as Daniel Kasprzak think could be better spent.
...Pearson is a giant in the education and publishing fields. It publishes the Financial Times and prints books through the Penguin Group. Its education arm, Pearson Education, writes textbooks, sells school curriculum and designs tests taken by millions of children across the country. During the last decade, it has become one of the largest education companies in the world.

“Its primary agenda is deriving profits for shareholders,” said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, a national advocacy group that opposes high-stakes testing. “Back in the day, the exams were made primarily by state and public employees who presumably had as their top priority improving the quality of public education.”
The 40-minute field tests, which will be conducted in 220 schools in Erie and Niagara counties in early June, have prompted questions from some parents at Hillview Elementary School in Lancaster, said Principal Kathleen Carroll Knauth.

“We still have another set of tests to do,” said Knauth, who announced last month that she would take an early retirement in protest of the increased student testing and new teacher-evaluation systems. “And I’ve had a few express concerns about that: ‘Why are they using my child for field tests, my child as a guinea pig?’ ”
Read more here

Pearson controls upwards of 40% of the education market through all their recent acquisitions. Their future control of education looks even brighter. This is from a BC Teacher's Federation report from 2012:
"Pearson ’s approach to the education business can be understood by examining a recent controversy in which it found itself embroiled. The company moved decisively into the testing business well before its recent spate of acquisitions. Along with other testing companies, Pearson grew fat feasting on the mandatory testing required under George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind , and fatter still under Barack Obama’s Race to the Top . Pearson became a leader in testing as it did in so many other education businesses, by purchasing industry leaders. It bought National Computer Systems, the leading provider of test - scoring services, for an astonishing $2.5 billion US, in July 2000. 5 Several months later George W. Bush was elected president on an education — read “testing” — platform. Just days after the election, a NCS - Pearson executive displayed a quote from Bush calling for state testing and individual school report cards and announced to a ballroom - full of Wall Street analysts, “This almost reads like our business plan.” 6 In 2007, perhaps anticipating Barack Obama’s reliance on testing as his major education policy, Pearson purchased Harcourt Assessment, one of the two leading producers of tests administered at the state level and owner of the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) , for $635 million."
Pearson was intimately involved in the development of the Common Core Standards, was first to market with textbooks aligned to CCS and now has a controlling share of the standardized test market for CCS. The state's lame assertion that districts are free to choose whatever curriculum they want is proven false by this story.
 Last week, the New York Post and Daily News reported that the Pearson-developed New York State ELA sixth- and eighth-grade assessments included passages that were also in a Pearson-created, “Common Core–aligned” ELA curriculum. This meant that students in schools that purchased and used instructional materials from Pearson had an enormous advantage over those who didn’t....

After all, if you were a New York principal and learned that Pearson included passages from their curriculum on the state test—the results of which are used to inform everything from student to teacher to school accountability—whose curriculum would you buy?
So when the school tells you that your child HAS to take the standardized test, keep in mind this Tonawanda parent observation, “Basically, we have our children as child labor determining and enhancing the product for Pearson."

Is it time to opt your child out of high stakes testing (and Common Core assessments)?  Have you joined the Blue Hat movement? 
“The school day schedule is highly regimented and leaves very little breathing room. Teachers have been told that they are not allowed to include any activity unless it has documented proof of its educational benefit. For example, no art or craft projects that do not specifically relate to the curriculum (like decorating the classroom for holidays); no buddy reading (older students spending time reading with younger students); no silent reading time. The principal called these activities “fluff”.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can Teachers Really Be Creative and Innovative when Teaching to the Test? Do They Really Have that Much Magic?

The video of Ellie Rubenstein, a Highland Park School District (Lincoln Elementary School)  teacher who resigned because of the increased time taken on standardized testing, has created new debate on the role of teachers.  Rubenstein offers her statement on what it's like to teach today in the classroom.  From the Daily Mail:

The former teacher says: 'Raising students' test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal, and in order to achieve it the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated.

'Everything I love about teaching is extinct,' she continued.

'...over the past 15 years, I've experienced the depressing, gradual downfall and misdirection of communication that has slowly eaten away at my love of teaching.'

She adds that she now feels like she is now 'not being allowed to do anything meaningful' but is 'instead forced to act as as cog in a wheel that is turning in the wrong direction.'
What happened in the last 15 years?  Could it include the adoption/implementation of the Bush/Kennedy No Child Left Behind act, the mandates focusing on increased standardized testing and the withholding of federal funding if benchmarks aren't reached?  Did you know Common Core standards have been described as "NCLB on steroids"?  If this teacher feels like a "cog in a wheel", imagine how the students feel in these mandated education scripts.


Be sure to read comments on the video from other teachers.

 What is the school's response?  From chicagotribune.com:

District administrators blamed the moves on a negative work environment at Lincoln Elementary School, but parents weren't convinced.

"If that's the case, I can't believe I learned about it just now," said David Seidman, parent of two Lincoln School students, before evoking a famous speech by the building's namesake to say administrators had created a environment of mistrust in the larger school community.

"This house is very much divided, and I don't know how it's going to stand again," Seidman said.

The parents' anger was stoked when Lincoln School fourth-grade teacher Ellie Rubenstein posted a video Tuesday on YouTube to air her grievances and publicly resign. She and three other Lincoln School educators were recently told they would be transferred to other schools next year. One of the transfers was voluntary, and three were involuntary, according to officials.
North Shore School District 112 Superintendent David Behlow said Lincoln School's working environment needed improvement, noting the building has had three principals in the last four years.
 Behlow said many of Rubenstein's comments in the video "were inaccurate, misleading and, in many cases, factually wrong."

"Our teachers are encouraged to be creative and innovative and to exercise their own craft and magic in classrooms every day," Behlow said.
Read more here.

What is the truth?  We aren't privy to know confidential work/performance information to determine who is being most truthful.  However, the last comment by Behlow makes me believe the teacher has more credibility.  Teachers can't possibly "be creative and innovative and to exercise their own craft and magic in classrooms every day" in the current NCLB requirements and upcoming Common Core mandates.   Mandates are inflexible and opposed to creativity and innovation and it would take a lot of magic to work around them.  No teacher has that amount of magic to accomplish that craft.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Stop Common Core Argument: There is no one "common" path or yellow brick road to educational excellence.

CCSS proponents would have you to believe the standards will create an educational utopia and nudge us to a better place.  Let's look at the facts.  They may lead to a wizard who promises a lot but in reality, it's just rhetoric.

Follow the educational reform yellow brick road!  We now have standards that will make our kids college and career ready!  STEM jobs will surface because our students will now know science and math!   Common Core will enable students to be ready for 21st century jobs!  Don't worry that the proponents don't list exactly what those 21st jobs are.  No, no, listen to the CCSS proponents and education will morph from black and white film technology into technicolor.

Common sense would tell you if a salesperson tells you about a product and how fantastic it is, but has no proof of what he/she is selling is an actual item (such as a list of 21st century jobs), you wouldn't pay for that product.  It would be similar to giving money to a shyster who insists he/she has a product that will work but can't show you the product he/she promises will produce the effects promised. 

It's the same for the CCSS claims.  They are not researched based and cannot be backed up by data.  For a program that relies on "data driven" results, CCSS proponents don't have any of those "data driven" research facts to back up their theories.  CCSS is nothing but a massive stimulus program tied up with fancy language (rigorous, college/career ready, 21st century, global workforce, etc) to bamboozle taxpayers and legislators to buy into an educational program that appears to help students be successful.

It's nothing but a shell game.  From Forbes and Dear High School Graduate: Everything You've Been Told Is False:

When I graduated from Omaha Creighton Prep High School back in 1977, my fellow grads and I entered a benign, forgiving, if U.S.-hegemonic, economic order where one could find paid work — albeit of a blue collar variety — just by completing high school. A world where even a C student was guaranteed some kind of white-collar employment just by earning a college degree; any kind of degree, with any kind of major, from a wide variety of public or private institutions.

High School Graduates of the Class of 2013, those days are over. Not only are there not a plethora of decent-paying jobs just waiting for you upon graduation, there are structural changes afoot in the U.S. economy making your human labor “incidental.”

...No doubt you’ve been told that more — and better targeted — skill sets are the expensive answer to your job predicament. At least that’s what the increasingly desperate education industry  – and their lax-loan lackeys in the Obama Department of Education – want you to believe. Unfortunately, as authors Kenneth Gray and Edwin Herr note, only 21% of all jobs in the U.S. require a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, according to economist and professor Peter Morici, “more than half of recent graduates are working” in an occupation “that does not require a college education.”

...Moreover, even if you pursue a degree in a field that requires a college diploma, the fast-evolving global marketplace may still determine in a few years time that those “in-demand” skills you studied so hard to accrue are suddenly superfluous. Economists call this commoditization. And just as it happened with website designers and A & R hacks in the early 2000s, and lawyers and journalists in the late 2000s, commoditization could quickly transform today’s in-vogue STEM fields too. Especially when one considers that for every two U.S. students that graduate with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degrees, only one is deployed in a STEM job.
Read more here.

From a reader and a response from the author:

Business_Owner 2 days ago
Auto repair, plumbing repair, electrical repair, air conditioning repair, heating system repair, home repair, roofing repair …. There are probably others but everyone should get the point. There are a LOT of jobs that don’t require a college degree and pay good money.

My business is a repair business. I primarily sharpen and repair beauty, barber and groomer tools along with sewing and upholstr scissors. I also sharpen knives, axes, hatchets, lawn mower blades, shovels, manual hedge trimers, loppers, most anything with a smooth edge. Add to this list some veterinary tools and livestock clipper blades.
I am also a hair stylist specializing in razor hair cuts for men.

At either of my “businesses” I regularly make 20$ an hour.

I have no college degree and I didn’t play sports in High School. I was too busy with a lawn care, attic and basement cleaning service.
James Marshall Crotty, Contributor 2 days ago
Amen. We are not all destined to be, nor happy being, software developers, robotics engineers, or whatever STEM field du jour is being pushed these days. We need to steer each young person down a path that makes sense for each of them. Fulfillment in work can happen through so many different fields, most of which do not require a four-year college degree. Thank you.

So, the questions are: why are we cheerleading Common Core standards to make everyone common when commonality is what we should be avoiding?  Why are we preparing students for jobs when the CCSS folks don't even know what those jobs are?  If only 21% of jobs require a bachelor's degree, why are we pushing students into college?

Those are the questions to ask in your school board meetings, to your superintendents, your legislators and in social media postings.  Why won't CCSS proponents deal with the facts instead of theories?  Do you believe this is about education or something else? But "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain".  Just as the Wizard of Oz had to step up to the plate and explain his proclamations, it's time for the CCSS group to do the same.  It's too bad this isn't a movie and we can walk away from this suspension of reality.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Teacher Advises Students of their Constitutional Rights. He Now Faces Possible Disciplinary Action.

A teacher is in trouble after advising students of their Constitutional rights before they were to complete a school survey.  From the dailyherald.com:

A Batavia High School (Illinois) teacher's fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

Students and parents have praised his ability to interest reluctant students in history and current affairs.

But John Dryden said he's not the point. He wants people to focus on the issue he raised: Whether school officials considered that students could incriminate themselves with their answers to the survey that included questions about drug and alcohol use.

Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student's name printed on it.

The survey is part of measuring how students meet the social-emotional learning standards set by the state. It is the first year Batavia has administered such a survey.

Here is information about the social-emotional learning standards set by Illinois from Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership:

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is defined as ”the process through which children enhance their ability to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving to achieve important life tasks. Those competent in SEL are able to recognize and manage their emotions, establish healthy relationships, set positive goals, meet personal and social needs, and make responsible and ethical decisions. (Elias et al, 1997; Payton et al, 2000.)  Considered within a traditional school context, SEL underscores the necessity to attend to a child’s social and emotional development in order to maximize that child’s opportunity to succeed in school. The research is clear that SEL has a significantly positive impact on children’s attitudes, behaviors and school performance

In 2003, Illinois’ state government passed the Children’s Mental Health Act, which legislated that all school districts create policies that address children’s social and emotional development; and that the State Board of Education (ISBE) develop social and emotional learning standards and mandate their implementation in all public schools. With this Act, Illinois became the first state to recognize – through legislation – the importance of social and emotional development to children’s ability to achieve academic success. 

The SEL Standards were created and approved in 2005.  Two years later the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP) joined with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority (IVPA) to begin implementing the statewide (Social and Emotional Learning) SEL Standards Professional Development Project (Project), through two grant programs. With this funding, a statewide Cadre of professionals was developed to train and work with school districts to implement the Standards.

Batavia bought its mental health survey from Multi-Health Systems which declined to give a copy for review.  You can review a survey given to high school students by the Center of Disease Control to many schools around the country here which asks questions on drug, alcohol and tobacco use, as does the one from Multi-Health Systems: 

The (Multi-Health) survey asked about drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and emotions, according to Brad Newkirk, chief academic officer.

The results were to be reviewed by school officials, including social workers, counselors and psychologists.

The survey was not a diagnostic tool, but a "screener" to figure out which students might need specific help, Newkirk said.

Do you know what else the Illinois State Board of Education is part of?  The ISBE is a partner of the Illinois Data Warehouse System (ILDS).  ILDS has data elements ready to be implemented and collected data will be supplied by schools to ILDS.  These data sets will be able to be used in other states when data sharing is allowed across state lines.  This can be done because of the adoption and implementation of Common Core standards.  They can be shared as the standards (academic and otherwise) are commonly coded for easy tracking.  From the Illinois Longitudinal Data System Project:

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), along with our Education Partners, is now actively moving forward with the design and development of the state-wide Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS).  The system, when fully deployed, will provide data to help to track the outcomes of Illinois students as they progress from Pre-K through Postsecondary education, and as they enter the workforce.  Longitudinal data supports an in-depth, comprehensive view of students’ progress and will ultimately help guide policymakers on where to invest time and energy to most effectively improve student achievement in our State.
The ILDS is defined by Public Act 96-0107 and enabled through federal funding, and instructs the State Board of Education to link student test scores, length of enrollment and graduation records over time.  The system also will connect students to career planning and resources, with the potential to facilitate the application process for financial aid and records for transfer students.

ILDS will serve a large stakeholder group, including:
·         Illinois State Board of Education
·         Local Education Authorities
·         Regional offices of education and intermediate service centers
·         Parents and other members of the general public
·         State Legislatures
·         News media
·         Research organizations
·         Postsecondary Institutions
·         State workforce and higher education agencies
·         Education Partners

Do you think your state will create its own unique data retrieval standards set or will it align its data standards to Illinois?  Common core is the necessary element in implementing data sharing.  Data sharing requires commonly coded data sets which will enable the ILDS to capture and track student information.  Here is the tie in with Common Core standards, the data set from the National Education Data Model and the two assessment consortia which includes the other states tying into the ILDS (page 8):

This Reform Agenda is aligned with a national Reform Agenda that builds off No Child Left Behind, national Common Core academic standards, National Education Data Model (NEDM) and Common Data Standards (CDS), two national Assessment Consortia, and a new national network of next generation learning environments.

The ILDS document details its purpose on tracking students for supplying the workforce.  From http://www.isbe.net/ILDS/pdf/ildsdac_meeting_120810_1.pdf:

The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation.

The Model includes early childhood (EC), elementary and secondary (K12), post-secondary (PS), and workforce (WF) elements, known collectively as P20, and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.


What sort of data does it require?  Here's a partial list showing the expansion of aggregate data into personal and individual data for its needed elements (beginning on page 36):


Collect attitudes toward debt acquisition
Collect sources used, if any, for information on applying to and paying for college
Collect media used in student's household (newspapers, TV, cable, radio, internet, etc)
Collect unique student identifier  

Collect remedial coursework taken in postsecondary programs
Collect number of hours students worked each week
Collect whether students live on or off-campus or with their parents
Collect number of credit cards and average total balance
Collect information on the need to work while in college
Collect hours enrolled in college

What data do we have that our expenditure for student support personnel are making a difference in attitude, behaviors, and achievement of students K-12? (How do you measure the success of open houses?  Other parent involvement programs?? How are nurses, counselors, etc., being used?

What data do we have that the expenditures for teacher assistants/paraprofessionals are making a difference in student achievement?

What data do we have that expenditures for arts, music and PE are making a difference in academic achievement?


Behavior and attitude tracking information is necessary for the ILDS to gather for completing student data sets.  Now you might understand why the school was a bit upset with John Dryden informing his students supplying this information might not be constitutional and impinged on their 5th Amendment rights.  The school doesn't worry about constitutional rights.  It's worried about the data gathering for the data system as mandated by Common Core state standards. 

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