On his blog “Cloaking Inequity,” Julian Vasquez Heilig conducts an annual poll seeking to identify the “Turkey of the Year.” This year’s winner, hands down, is Arne Duncan. This was an unusually impressive victory because in the listing of candidates, Duncan’s name appeared last. And better: he garnered a majority of the votes, even though there were several choices.
Caitlin Emma, who writes for politico.com, here reviews the threat to student privacy posed by online courses.
While students are taking these courses, the provider is gathering a treasure trove of information about each of them. This data may later be sold to marketers, who see students as customers.
There is a federal law that is supposed to protect student privacy, but in 2011-12, Secretary Arne Duncan oversaw a weakening of FERPA regulations, removing key protections.
Companies working together, like Pearson and Knewton, are gathering confidential student data whenever your child goes online.
Why should corporations advertise when they can use Big Data to identify their target audience? Race to the Top required states, if they wanted to be eligible for federal cash, to create a massive student data warehouse, to open more charters, and to adopt “college and career ready standards,” I.e. Common Core. Clever, no? A bonanza for certain corporations.
This is scary stuff.
Here is Mercedes Schneider with a brilliant post about the Obama U.S. Department of Education. She writes brief sketches of eight key appointees, each of whom is tied to the privatization movement.
When the President wonders why his party was so badly beaten at the polls earlier this month, he might think about the millions of educators who work in public schools and the millions of parents whose children attend good public schools; they are disgusted by Race to the Top, non-stop testing, test-based teacher evaluation, the Department’s preference for charter schools over public schools, and the millions of public dollars directed to TFA and charter schools. Educators were at one time a key part of the base of the Democratic party. As states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee lashed out at teachers, no protest was heard from Arne Duncan. As billions were cut from school budgets in Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Obama administration was silent (Duncan wrote a letter to Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania about the defunding of Philadelphia, but it was a faint protest, not like actually showing up). At present, educators and parents feel abandoned by both parties.
Let us be thankful. A hopeful thought from the reader who comments as NY Teacher:
“I understand your pessimism, but this too shall pass. The Obama/Duncan regime are closing up shop soon. Their policy attacks are simply not scalable nor will they withstand the legal challenges that are sure to follow. The teaching profession will survive this onslaught and one day Arne, RTT, CC, VAM, and the test-and-punish reform will be smoldering on the ash heap of failed and discredited ideas.”
Stephen Krashen, literacy expert, wrote a letter to the Denver Post to comment on Arne Duncan’s recent discovery that children take too many tests. Some little ones sit for 9 or 10 hours of testing, as well as test prep. Arne is not happy. But who brought all this testing that got out of control in the past five years. No Child Left Behind? Race to the Top? Race, race, race for higher test scores. Evaluate teachers by test scores . Evaluate education schools by the test scores of students taught by their graduates. Who is responsible for this madness that makes children cry?
Stephen Krashen wrote this letter in response to an article by Arne Duncan (or his press office);
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been an enthusiastic supporter of the common core testing program, accurately described as “nonstop testing” by education expert Susan Ohanian. The common core imposes more testing on our children than has ever been seen on our planet, and no attempt was made to determine if the new tests result in higher student achievement.
Now Secretary Duncan (“A test for school tests,” Oct 20) says he supports a movement to eliminate redundant and inappropriate tests. This should have been done using small-scale studies before the tests were forced on millions of children.
original article: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_26762648/test-tests?source=infinite
SomeDAM Poet (Devalue Added) writes poems on current issues with frequency:
“The Perfect Reform Storm”
When education reform
Becomes a perfect storm
The stakes align
Like fronts in time
And chaos is the norm
In response to an earlier post about the U.S. Department of Education setting “measurable and rigorous targets” for children with disabilities, ages 0-3, Laura H. Chapman writes:
“This is nothing more than an extension of the Data Quality campaign that Bill Gates has funded since 2005 along with USDE– initially limited to Pre-K through college, but now clearly starting at birth, and likely in a race to get as much data into “the cloud” on each cohort of kids ASAP along with some hard-wired policies such as do this or we will gut the health and human services funding and IDEA funding for your state.
“Comply or else.
“Of course, closing the achievement gap will be easy enough if you just demand more of the parents and hand over all of the “evidence-based interventions” to instant experts. They will have conjured all of the necessary and sufficient measures for ratings of “infant and toddler and parent effectiveness.”
“Don’t forget checklists for observation, with rubrics for properly identifying all-purpose and specialized remedies for every condition, Instant experts on “disabilities” are sure to be ready (for a fee) to share their power points and modules for corrective action.
“Let’s see, let’s have some infant and toddler SLOs with targets to reach every three months, so quarterly reports can be filed at the state level. Or some VAM calculations with grand inferential leaps from scores on cognitive function, locomotion, eye-hand coordination, new scores for versions of the old Piaget experiments. Add some body sensors to pick up rigorous data on pee and poop and tantrum control, a measure of infant and toddler grit in retaining gas or vomit.
“Perhaps the real aim is to privatize the US Census, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, etc., etc., etc.
“I think that Arne Duncan and Bill Gates have never been in the presence of infants and toddlers and adults who are struggling to make sense out of the booming buzzing confusion that marks you as alive and human and doing your best even if you are not blessed from birth with “the right stuff,” plenty of money and connections with people who give you a bunch of tax dollars and discretionary authority to spend these at will..
“I hope the over-reach on this idiotic plan makes big news.
“My fear is that it will not.”
This comment from a reader in response to a post about “pre-school readiness” for children 0-3 with special needs, with “measurable and rigorous targets.”
The reader writes:
“I spent 19 years in infant special education- even before we even called it early intervention, I was teaching children in the 0-3 age range. Yes- I visited mothers the week their babies came home from the hospital because because they sought and wanted that support. I was in that first group of teachers in the nation earning a MS Ed in Early Childhood Special Education right after the passage of PL 94-142. My program was home-based and holistic- the goal was to help the parent(s) understand how their child’s medical condition/syndrome/extreme prematurity/ brain damage/sensory disorder impacts development, and to help that parent care for the baby’s physical, sensory, cognitive and social needs.
“I went to homes twice a week where there was no heat, no food security, overcrowding, broken windows, little furniture or toys, vermin infestation, poor lighting and broken cribs. And sometimes also there was abuse and domestic violence. I also went to homes with maids and luxury cars- any everything in between. My expertise and support made a difference for those families- but how much more of a long term difference would there be if all the children had prenatal care, safe and secure shelter, food security and access to needed medical and dental care?
“As a teacher, my job was to help the child and parent move from one step to the next developmental step, and celebrate each milestone, whenever it came, with joy. It was about attunement, attachment, engagement and play- not testing, pressure and grit. That is how babies learn- though touch and interaction and play. My job was to help the parent see a child as lovable and capable which might sound unnecessary, but learning that your child has a significant problem is a crushing blow to many parents- it is traumatic, it is a shock, and a nightmare. But yes. I recorded new milestones on a checklist of developmental skills to help the parent understand and delight in the sequence of skills as they developed- not to quantify and get a “score.”
“Rigor? Does Duncan realize we are talking about babies with poor oral-motor tone learning how to suck on a nipple? Or a baby having hundreds of seizures a day learning how to make eye contact with her mother? Or a baby with cerebral palsy lifting his head to see himself in a mirror? What Duncan is proposing is clueless, but also despicable and sinister. Is there anything in this world he cannot reduce to a data point? Grief? Laughter? Love? Acceptance? Health? Comfort? Pride? What is YOUR score Mr. Duncan?”
Reader JCGrim wonders when the testing mania will end. It will end when enough parents band together and demand it. When they say they will not allow their children of every age to be subjected to hours of testing. When they opt out en masse. When enough parents say loudly, “Stop! Enough!”
“If you think Arne couldn’t be any more incompetent, think again. His newest absurdity is special education’s birth to 3yrs early intervention programs.
“According to IDEA, every state must have an early intervention system that serves children with disabilities from birth to age 3 yrs. (public school takes over services for kiddos with disabilities at age 3yrs.) The feds are requiring state systematic improvement plans with “measurable & rigorous targets.”
“TN’s early intervention system (TEIS) must provide “measurable and rigorous results” for infants & toddlers with disabilities & their families. The data must show that early intervention is “closing the achievement gap” and provide the percent of infants & toddlers who are “preschool ready.”
“You read that right “preschool ready.” What does that even mean? Preschool is where kids get their first ever experiences away from their caregivers. Preschool is the first time kids find out they can smear paint on their hands & paper, play with other kids by sifting through a big bin of rice, dance in big circle with a partner, chase butterflies in a butterfly tent, or turn pudding in plastic ziplocs into a snack.
“When will this insanity end? Enough is enough.”
How many times have you heard people like Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein (remember him?) and other so-called reformers say that poverty doesn’t matter, that poverty is an excuse for poor teaching?
I have always believed that poverty imposes tremendous burdens on students and their families: hunger, homelessness, lack of medical care, illness, etc.
The best evidence of the difference that poverty makes is SAT scores. The poorest kids have the lowest scores, the most affluent have the highest. The difference from bottom to top is nearly 400 points. To be exact, it is 398 points.
The Wall Street Journal suggests a new name for the SAT: the Student Affluence Test.
What does the SAT measure? Family income and family education.
Those with vast resources of their own probably think that poverty is a personal defect rather than the inevitable result of an inequitable tax system.