The intersection of Common Core, inBloom, and the deregulation of federal privacy law is no accident.
The intersection of Common Core, inBloom, and the deregulation of federal privacy law is no accident.
In the year that I have had this blog, I have never posted the same article twice.
I posted this one yesterday, and I am posting it again, to draw attention to some curious statements made by Bill Gates in the course of an interview. I am not picking on Bill, but drawing attention to his assumptions. What he believes matters a great deal because his billions, in tandem with federal policy (which he shapes) has a large impact on tens of millions of students and their teachers. His influence is multiplied yet again because almost every other foundation follows his lead, assuming that he knows best because he has the most money.
Yesterday I posted the interview to draw attention to the fact that his favorite technology startup is one that his foundation started, though that was not mentioned. It is inBloom, the new tech company Gates funded with $100 million, in partnership with Rupert Murdoch, to collect confidential student data, which may be used by vendors. The vendors will use the data to design and market new products, based on their access to children’s names, address, grades, test scores, disabilities, attendance, suspensions, etc. in 2011, the US Department of Education loosened the restrictions on the federal privacy act (FERPA), allowing this release of data without parents’ permission. The decision to release the data is in the hands of state education departments, not parents.
Today I call attention to two other noteworthy points.
In this exchange, Gates asserts that the foundation has figured out how to make the average teacher as effective as those in the top quartile. He neglects to mention–maybe he doesn’t know–that the implementation of these ideas has not produced this result anywhere. Gates’ ideas about teacher evaluation have been adopted in most states because the federal Department of Education made them a condition of Race to the Top and a condition to receive waivers from NCLB. Gates does not acknowledge that these test-based evaluation programs have created massive snafus, in which the district’s Teacher of the Year was fired because she was “ineffective” the next year, nor does he seem to know that these evaluation systems are inaccurate and demoralizing. In short, his new Big Idea has already failed, but no one has told him. Maybe they are afraid to tell him.
“During your SXSW speech, you held up a vial of the polio vaccine as an illustration of the power of innovation to solve a problem by redefining it. What’s the big win in education that’s similar in scope?”
“The foundation’s biggest investment, even bigger than what we’re doing to enable technology, is in creating a personnel system for K-12 teachers that lets the average teacher move up to be as good as the top quartile. Instead of just being in isolation and getting no feedback, you can be videotaped, you can have a peer evaluator advise you on your performance. When we combine that with student surveys and principals’ feedback, we can help teachers learn from the best.”
In this next exchange, the interviewer politely points out that so far none of Gates’ big ideas has been transformative. His response is to say that what works for one group doesn’t work for another, which is a good critique of almost everything Gates does. Another way to read his answer is that he still does not know how to transform the K-12 system; what works for highly motivated adults is not what works for extremely heterogeneous youngsters whose motivation is diverse.
“The performance of independently run public charter schools has been mixed. Breaking up large schools into smaller ones has yielded few improvements. There is little robust data about the impact of laptops, tablets, and other technology on graduation rates or test scores. Do we know enough about what works and what doesn’t to undertake large-scale interventions?
“These are complex questions, in part because students are heterogeneous. What works for one student won’t work for another.
“I’ll give you an example. The students who go to Western Governors University [an online, not-for-profit university that is on Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies list in 2013] are older, in their late twenties, early thirties. They have a career goal in mind. They are fairly motivated to finish, and the curriculum is very oriented toward credentialing them for a higher-income occupation. So the persistence you see in that self-selecting group is quite phenomenal. They have very low dropout rates. But you can’t just say, “That course material and structure must work for all 18-year-olds.” In fact, we know it absolutely does not. That population has a less clear idea of why they’re at school, and they have other distractions.”
John White, Louisiana State Superintendent, announced that he was recalling all confidential student data from inBloom, the massive data warehouse funded by the Gates Foundation with $100 million.
Is this for real? Time will tell.
Parents in the state loudly protested the release of their children’s identifying information to the data warehouse, which was developed by Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify. Murdoch’s News Corporation is under investigation in England for hacking into people’s cell phones and computers. The most egregious case, which he settled for an undisclosed amount, involved hacking into the cell phone of a dead girl, in hopes of getting information about her killer.
Meanwhile, New York State still plans to turn confidential student data over to inBloom. Parents should ask State Commissioner of Education John King why he is still intent on doing something that is clearly an invasion of student privacy.
Whose interests are served?
Is this about helping entrepreneurs direct sales pitches to children?
Exactly why does the nation need this warehouse?
Read this and prepare to gag unless you are the president of your regional Bill Gates Fan Club.
Did you know that Bill is warm and cuddly when he talks about how he plans to make US education the very best in the world without spending more? Don’t doubt for a minute that he knows how to do it. He has been reforming education for years, and think of all he has done. Well, let’s see, there is…..
The article begins:
“After almost two decades of pursuing improvements in U.S. education through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates maintains a sweeping and grand ambition. His goal for the next 20 years, he says, is to graduate roughly twice as many kids from college, move the United States up in the international rankings, and do so without spending more money. It’s as if Gates wants to apply a version of Moore’s law (in which the number of transistors that can fit on an integrated circuit double every two years) to education.”
Oh, and note his favorite Ed-tech start-ups: #1 is inBloom. In modesty, Gates does not mention that he put $100 million to underwrite a massive data warehouse designed by Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify. It will store the confidential information of millions of students and make it available for vendors without the permission of parents.
The writer received Gates’ funding in 2011.
This is Julian Vasquez Heilig’s continuing series called the Teat, in which he follows the money behind corporate reform. This one focuses on the so-called parent trigger. Previous installments have looked at TFA and KIPP.
I posted Gary Cohn’s excellent analysis of the funding behind Parent Revolution, the group created by charter advocates to trick parents into turning their public school over to charter corporations.
The name of the organization is the first hoax: Apparently the Walton family, the Broad family, and the Gates family want to start a “revolution.”
What kind of revolution would billionaires foment?
The Gates Foundation spent $100 million along with the Carnegie Corporation to create a massive database consisting of confidential information about students. The database will be created by Rupert Murdoch’s subsidiary Wireless Generation. It will go onto a “cloud” managed by amazon.com.
Several states and districts have agreed to turn over their student data. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education quietly changed the FERPA regulations so that the data could be released. According to this article, the data will be available to entrepreneurs to market stuff to children’s.
Here is one New York parent’s view:
“I have emailed and called [State Commissioner] John King’s office over 40 times the past month refusing to consent to allow the DOE to transfer my children’s personal information into InBloom to be bought and sold around the world so vendors get rich. King’s office refuses to allow parents to opt-out.
I consider InBloom Identity Theft. We need a class action law suit to protect students privacy.
Please see the extent of data that is being collected and entered to be sold without a guarantee of security. Even your billing address from credit cards can be entered along with birth weight, homework completions, medical reports for IEP’s, disabilities, discipline, and much more.
For the past several years, three billionaires have foisted untested, unreliable, metrics-driven, in humane teacher evaluation policies onto our nation’s teachers.
In this misguided effort to find a yardstick to reduce teacher quality to a number, no one has been more energetic than Bill Gates.
As the anti-high-stakes testing movement grows, and as the wreckage piles up (see Atlanta, El Paso, and DC, for example), the metrics movement looks more ineffectual and more harmful.
Anthony Cody says it is time to hold the authors of this debacle accountable.
He has designed a rubric to hold Bill Gates accountable.
Can you think of things to add to his rubric?
A suggestion for Anthony Cody: how about designing an accountability scorecard for Eli Broad and the Waltons?
Anthony Cody read Bill Gates’ article in the Washington Post, in which he said it is time to reduce the emphasis on high-stakes testing.
Anthony wondered if Gates means it.
“No one in America has done more to promote the raising of stakes for test scores in education than Bill Gates….You can read his words…, but his actions have spoken so much more loudly, that I cannot even make sense out of what he is attempting to say now. So let’s focus first on what Bill Gates has wrought.”
Anthony documents the destructive programs that Gates has funded (read the list, and it is only the tip of the iceberg), and he concludes:
“This amounts to an attempt to distance the Gates Foundation from the asinine consequences of the policies they have sponsored, while accepting no responsibility for them whatsoever.
“This is a non-starter, as far as I am concerned.”
I read this article “by Bill Gates” with a growing sense of incredulity.
I kept hearing echoes of many things I and others have written since Gates decided to make teacher evaluation the biggest crisis in American education. In 2008, he dropped the small schools movement and determined that teachers are our biggest problem. If we had a better way to evaluate them, schools could fire the bad ones and have only good ones.
No one did more to push the idea that teachers should be judged by the test scores of their students. No one had more influence on Race to the Top.
Now he says that test scores are not the only way to identify great teachers. They might not even be the best way.
Now he is worried that there is a growing backlash against standardized testing and he says he gets it.
He even concedes that tying pay to test scores is offensive.
Let us take him at his word. Let us take yes for an answer.
Please, Fairtest, invite him to speak at your next event.
Now if the day comes that he admits that the search for the right metric to measure teacher quality was a waste of time; and if the day comes that he realizes that many great teachers work selflessly in schools with low test scores; if he can begin to focus on the conditions that affect both teaching and learning rather than the fruitless search for the perfect evaluation system; when that day comes, we will all celebrate the painful metamorphosis of Bill Gates.
I often re-read this amazing article in the New York Times to remind me of the agenda of the Gates Foundation.
It has a double agenda, like all the corporate reform groups it supports. It publicly speaks of support and collaboration with teachers, but it funds organizations that actively campaign against any job protections for teachers.
Gates himself has said that class size is unimportant and that he would rather see larger classes with higher-quality teachers (but not, we can be certain, for his own children). The same sentiment is often echoed by Michael Bloomberg, who said that if he had his way (which he already does), he would fire half the city’s teachers, double class size, and have only high quality teachers. What makes him think that a high quality teacher with a class of 24 would be equally effective with a class of 48?
Gates’ anti-union, pro-testing groups are made up of young teachers–with names like TeachPlus and Educators for Excellence–who are paid handsomely to advocate against due process rights and in favor of tying teacher evaluations to test scores. Since few intend to make a career of teaching, why should they care?