Cheri Kiesecker is a Colorado parent who pays close attention to technology that invades student privacy.

She left the following warning as a comment:

In response to the question about GAFE. Below are a few links that may be of help.
GAFE, Google, Chromebooks… seem to suffer transparency issues on how they track and use and analyze student data. When parents have asked to see what data points Google collects, how that information is analyzed, who it is shared with, there are no transparent answers.

Many privacy organizations and advocates have concerns and questions about the algorithms used and data collection/ sharing in GAFE.
Google Chromebooks are pre-set to send student data, all user activity, back to Google.

This article explains how ChromeSync feature tracks students. Some schools purposely leave the SYNC feature on. Others, however, turn off Sync before asking students to use Chromebooks. MANY schools and parents are NOT AWARE of the Chrome Sync tracking feature.

This blog does a great job explaining GAFE issues in Where The Sidewalk Ends: Wading Through Google’s Terms of Service for Education:

Google defines a narrow set of applications as “core” Apps for Edu services. These services are exempt from having ads displayed alongside user content, and from having their data used for “Ads purposes”. However, apps outside the core services – like YouTube, Blogger, and Picasa – are not covered by the terms of service that restrict ads. The same is true for integrations of third party apps that can be enabled within the Google Apps admin interface, and then accessed by end users. So, when a person in a Google Apps for Edu environment watches a video on YouTube, writes or reads a post on Blogger, or accesses any third party app enabled via Google Apps, their information is no longer covered under the Google Apps for Education terms.

To put it another way: as soon as a person with a Google Apps for Education account strays outside the opaque and narrowly defined “safe zone” everything they do can be collected, stored, and mined.

So, the next time you hear someone say, “Google apps doesn’t use data for advertising” ask them to explain what happens to student data when a student starts in Google apps, and then goes to Blogger, or YouTube, or connects to any third party integration.” read more…


The privacy watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a complaint with the FTC about Google’s deceptive tracking of students.
Chrome books are set to send back students’ entire browsing history to Google but that is not all.

Google’s Student Tracking Isn’t Limited to Chrome Sync

Many media reports on (as well as at least one response to) the FTC complaint we submitted yesterday about Google’s violation of the Student Privacy Pledge have focused heavily on one issue—Google’s use of Chrome Sync data for non-educational purposes. This is an important part of our complaint, but we want to clarify that Google has other practices which we are just as concerned about, if not more so.
In particular, the primary thrust of our complaint focuses on how Google tracks and builds behavioral profiles on students when they navigate to Google-operated sites outside of Google Apps for Education. We’ve tried to explain this issue in both our complaint and our FAQ, but given its significance we think it’s worth explaining again.

To understand what’s going on, you first have to understand that when it comes to education, Google divides its services into two categories: Google Apps for Education (GAFE), which includes email, Calendar, Talk/Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Contacts, and the Apps Vault; and everything else, which includes Google Search, Blogger, Bookmarks, Books, Maps, News, Photos, Google+, and YouTube, just to name a few.

Google has promised not to build profiles on students or serve them ads only within Google Apps for Education services. When a student goes to a different Google service, however, and they’re still logged in under their educational account, Google associates their activity on that service with their educational account, and then serves them ads on at least some of those non-GAFE services based on that activity.

In other words, when a student logs into their educational account, and then uses Google News to create a report on current events, or researches history using Google Books, or has a geography lesson using Google Maps, or watches a science video on YouTube, Google tracks that activity and feeds it into an ad profile attached to the student’s educational account—even though Google knows that the person using that account is a student, and the account was created for educational purposes.

This is our biggest complaint about Google’s practices—that despite having promised not to track students, Google is abusing its position of power as a provider of some educational services to profit off of students’ data when they use other Google services—services that Google has arbitrarily decided don’t deserve any protection. read more

Google and other apps may be “free”, but as privacy experts warn, your child’s data is the price. GAFE is just one example of needing transparent and enforceable privacy laws to protect students and why schools and teachers should read the privacy policies, terms of service surrounding data collection and use…and communicate that information with parents before signing a child up for GAFE or any app. Ideally, every parent should be given the choice to opt-in, as many parents are not aware of data privacy issues surrounding edtech.
…and as privacy groups warn, Google is playing with [COPPA] fire in promoting GAFE to children under 13.

I just donated to this gofundme campaign.

I hope you will too.

David Gamberg is the enlightened superintendent of schools in Southold and Greenport, on the North Fork of Long Island.

Here is his vision: Play. Children learn happily when they have time to play.

I have visited his schools.

I ate vegetables that the children raised.

I enjoyed the musical performance.

At the center of learning in his schools are physical activity, music, the arts, gardening, and much more. Southold has a superb robotics team.

It also has one of the highest opt out rates in the state.

Congratulations, Dr. Gamberg, for setting a wonderful example for educators everywhere!

A recent article in The Guardian in the U.K. revealed the secret of Europe’s most successful school system: Finland. It is a four-letter word: P-L-A-Y.

The author, Patrick Butler, visited the Franzenia daycare center and describes what he saw.

Central to early years education in Finland is a “late” start to schooling. At Franzenia, as in all Finnish daycare centres, the emphasis is not on maths, reading or writing (children receive no formal instruction in these until they are seven and in primary school) but creative play. This may surprise UK parents, assailed as they are by the notion of education as a competitive race. In Finland, they are more relaxed: “We believe children under seven are not ready to start school,” says Tiina Marjoniemi, the head of the centre. “They need time to play and be physically active. It’s a time for creativity.”

Indeed the main aim of early years education is not explicitly “education” in the formal sense but the promotion of the health and wellbeing of every child. Daycare is to help them develop good social habits: to learn how to make friends and respect others, for example, or to dress themselves competently. Official guidance also emphasises the importance in pre-school of the “joy of learning”, language enrichment and communication. There is an emphasis on physical activity (at least 90 minutes outdoor play a day). “Kindergarten in Finland doesn’t focus on preparing children for school academically,” writes the Finnish educational expert Pasi Sahlberg. “Instead the main goal is to make sure that the children are happy and responsible individuals.”

Play, nonetheless, is a serious business, at least for the teachers, because it gives children vital skills in how to learn. Franzenia has 44 staff working with children, of whom 16 are kindergarten teachers (who have each completed a three-year specialist degree), and 28 nursery nurses (who have a two-year vocational qualification). The staff-child ratio is 1:4 for under-threes and 1:7 for the older children. Great care is taken to plan not just what kind of play takes place – there is a mix of “free play” and teacher-directed play – but to assess how children play. The children’s development is constantly evaluated. “It’s not just random play, it’s learning through play,” says Marjoniemi.

He cites British researcher David Whitbread, who says:

Carefully organised play helps develop qualities such as attention span, perseverance, concentration and problem solving, which at the age of four are stronger predictors of academic success than the age at which a child learns to read, says Whitebread. There is evidence that high-quality early years play-based learning not only enriches educational development but boosts attainment in children from disadvantaged backgrounds who do not possess the cultural capital enjoyed by their wealthier peers. Says Whitebread: “The better the quality of pre-school, the better the outcomes, both emotionally and socially and in terms of academic achievement.”

Importantly, early years care in Finland is designed and funded to ensure high take-up: every child has a legal right to high-quality pre-school care. In Franzenia, as in all daycare centres, there are children from a mix of backgrounds. Fees, subsidised by the state, are capped at a maximum of €290 (£250) a month (free for those on low incomes) for five-day, 40 hours a week care. About 40% of 1-3-year-olds are in daycare and 75% of 3-5-year-olds. Optional pre-school at the age of six has a 98% take-up. Initially envisaged in the 70s as a way of getting mothers back into the workplace, daycare has also become, Marjoniemi says, about “lifelong learning and how we prepare young children”.

Finnish educator look at the big picture, not test scores.

Daycare is not the only factor underpinning academic success. Hard-wired into Finland’s educational mission is the idea that equality is vital to economic success and societal wellbeing, as well as the belief that a small nation, reliant on creativity, ingenuity and solidarity to compete in the global economy, cannot afford inequality or segregation in schooling or health. Behind its stellar education ranking is a comprehensive social security and public health system that ensures one of the lowest child poverty rates in Europe, and some of the highest levels of wellbeing. Gunilla Holm, professor of education at the University of Helsinki, says: “The goal is that we should all progress together.”

Finnish children do not face the competitive pressures of children in the UK and US. When test scores on PISA dipped, what do you think Finnish educators did?

As UK educational policy becomes more narrow and centrally prescribed, Finland devolves more power to teachers and pupils to design and direct learning. Teachers are well paid, well-trained (they must complete a five-year specialist degree), respected by parents and valued and trusted by politicians. There is no Ofsted-style inspection of schools and teachers, but a system of self-assessment. Educational policy and teaching is heavily research-based.

Worried that its sliding Pisa scores reflected a complacency in its schools, national curriculum changes were introduced this year: these now devote more time to art and crafts. Creativity is the watchword. Core competences include “learning-to learn”, multiliteracy, digital skills and entrepreneurship. At the heart of the new curriculum, the National Board of Education says unashamedly, is the “joy of learning.”

Yesterday, I posted the first part of Michael Massing’s excellent two-part essay on covering the world of power and influence in which the 1% live.

Today, I conclude the essay with part 2, where Massing offers numerous examples of untold stories and a few examples of excellent investigative reporting, such as the time that David Sirota broke the story that hedge fund manager John Arnold’s foundation was underwriting a PBS series on “the pension crisis,” without noting that he was a funder or that he has led an attack on public sector pensions. Sirota’s investigation compelled PBS to return Arnold’s money and to cancel the series.

He suggests several sectors that are not adequately covered by journalists: first, the philanthropies, which these days use their largesse to press their own political or ideological agenda; second, the world of higher education, which have come to rely on very wealthy donors who make gifts with strings attached; third, the world of think tanks, which have become increasingly dependent on donors who push their private agendas; fourth, the world of private equity operates beneath the surface, a world where vast sums are accumulated, along with vast political power; and for good measure, Wall Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and corporate America.

We learn from Massing that the media occasionally pull back the curtain, but all too often are willing to rewrite press releases and respond to marketing and branding campaigns. Investigative reporting requires energy, effort, and resources.

Massing himself, in a recent private communication, told me he is trying to set up a website to do what he calls for.

Let’s hope.

Information sustains democracy. Without it, we are all in the dark, not knowing who is pulling the levers of power. Those of us in education have seen the immense power of the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and hedge fund managers, yet the media usually is blissfully aware of who is manipulating public opinion and what their goals are.

Mike Klonsky has been a radical for many decades. Back in the 1960s, he was a key figure in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

He offers sage advice to his fellow lefties on the current election:

He writes:

Students from Johnson C. Smith University at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Sorry to say, rapacious capitalism will still be here in November. Not only that, but I doubt it will ever be simply voted out. Even if a “socialist” like Bernie were to someday be elected (I wish). But maybe that’s just old-school me.

Whatever the case, come the first of the year, either Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, will be our next president and Jill Stein and Gary Johnson will have taken their campaign funds and gone home, a la Ralph Nader and the rest of those perennial presidential spoiler candidates

That’s when the real movement for social justice, peace and racial equality needs to kick into gear again — after the election, no matter who is elected.

NYT columnist Charles Blow, speaking to Morgan State Univ. students, tries to break through the reported millennial political malaise and encourage a large youth turnout for Clinton.

“First — and this cannot be said enough — Clinton and Trump are not equally bad candidates. One is a conventional politician who has a long record of public service full of pros and cons. The other is a demagogic bigot with a puddle-deep understanding of national and international issues, who openly courts white nationalism, is hostile to women, Mexicans and Muslims, and is callously using black people as pawns in a Donnie-come-lately kinder-gentler campaign.”

As an educator, I would also include Trump’s pledge to do away with public education or what he calls, the “government monopoly” of public schools. And here I thought Trump loved to play Monopoly.

Blow continues…

“That person will appoint someone to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court (assuming that the Senate doesn’t find religion and move on Merrick Garland before the new president takes office) and that person will also appoint federal judges to fill the 88 district court and court of appeals vacancies that now exist (there are 51 nominees pending for these seats).”

And more…

“You can’t have taken part in a march for Eric Garner, chanting “I can’t breathe,” and risk the ascendance of a man who has as one of his chief advisers Rudy Giuliani, the grandfather of the very “broken windows” policing strategy that sent officers after low-level offenders like Garner.

“You can’t detest racial-dragnet-policy stop-and-frisk policing as not only morally abhorrent but thoroughly unconstitutional and risk the ascendance of a man who on Wednesday reportedly suggested that he would consider using stop-and-frisk more across the nation.
Makes sense. As Bernie Sanders himself said last week: “This is not the time for a protest vote.”

As one of the leaders of the “vote in the streets” 60’s youth revolt and someone who has often cast protest votes or gone fishing on meaningless election days, I couldn’t agree more.

Rebecca Lee teaches at the KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory School, where Terence Crutcher’s daughter is a student. She describes in this post (which appeared on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog at the Washington Post) how the children in the school reacted to the terrible news of the unjust death of their schoolmate’s father.

Weep for the children. What lessons are they learning from these events?

The Journey for Justice is working with other civil rights groups to bring thousands of people to demonstrate at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where the first Presidential debate will take place on September 26. Details are below.

For Immediate Release 773-317-6343
September 15, 2016

​Thousands expected to demonstrate @ Sept. 26th presidential debate in protest of public education cuts in African American and Latino communities across the nation
“It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary…”

CHICAGO – A national coalition of parents, students, teachers and activists have vowed to travel to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Monday, September 26th, and join with thousands of other people who will protest the first presidential debate due to cuts in public education and the impact on students of color. Activists, led by the Journey for Justice Alliance, have demanded Democratic nominee Sec. Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump release their respective K-thru-12 education platforms and meet with school leaders prior squaring off.

A coalition led by the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4JA) with more than 40,000 members from 24 cities across the US is galvanizing. Organizers say they will release a seven-point platform that tackles school privatization, the school-to-prison pipeline, standardized testing and a myriad of other failed education interventions that have led to massive school closings, charter proliferation and other schemes that have not improved education outcomes in urban communities.

“Our voices have been locked out of any discussion about public education during the race to the White House,” said Jitu Brown, national director J4JA. “Both Clinton and Trump have closed their ears to those of us who have protested, boycotted, waged hunger and teacher strikes demanding an end to corporate education interventions that have devastated students and schools.”

“Clinton, Trump and (Green Party candidate) Jill Stein have all been eerily silent on the impact of these bad policies and school-based cuts that have harmed African American and Latino students the most—yet they continue to campaign in our neighborhoods in search of our support,” said Brown. The award-winning activist gained national attention as the organizer and participant in a 34-day hunger strike to save Dyett High School in Chicago which forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to abandon his plans to destroy the school.

Added Natasha Capers, public school parent from the New York City Coalition for Education Justice, “We intend to gather that morning in a national forum on what’s been happening to us in our respective communities,” she said. “There is massive charter proliferation in New York despite the fact that research shows charters do not improve education outcomes. It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary.”

The Alliance will release a national public education platform in a forum called “Public Education Nation” co-sponsored by the Network for Public Education Action, which calls for a moratorium on school privatization; federal funding for 10,000 sustainable community schools; an end to zero tolerance policies; national equity in assessments; an end to the attack Black educators who are being terminated from urban school districts in record numbers; an end of state takeovers of trouble school districts where there is only mayoral control and appointed school boards; and, an elimination of the over reliance on standardized tests in public schools.

Parents and teachers have repeatedly lobbied law makers in their opposition to the destruction of community schools at the expense of publicly-funded, privately operated charter schools and over testing.

​“Where do the candidates stand on standardized testing and how those scores are tied to teacher evaluation,” said Nikkisha Napoleon, a public school parent in New Orleans. “Children in New Orleans have been devastated by racist education experimentation—and we’ve also seen a loss of African-American teachers in our city. Why is this happening in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit? I’m angry that people who live in our neighborhoods, have a history with our children and understand our culture are being driving out of our schools. Where do the candidates stand on the loss of veteran Black and Latino teachers?”

Added, Hiram Rivera, a public school parent and director of the Philadelphia Student Union. “This is a movement for justice and equity in this country. Black and Brown people are united in fighting to make our schools matter, our lives matter and to have our voices heard. We are tired of handshakes and photo ops. We are tired of school closings, privatization schemes and the disinvestment in our neighborhoods. Clinton and Trump need to be held accountable—before they take the oath of office. I’m going to Hempstead because we have to make our voices heard.”


The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) ( is a national network of inter-generational, grassroots community organizations led primarily by Black and Brown people in 24 U.S. cities. With more than 40,000 active members, we assert that the lack of equity is one of the major failures of the American education system. Current U.S. education policies have led to states’ policies that lead to school privatization through school closings and charter school expansion which has energized school segregation, the school-to-prison pipeline; and has subjected children to mediocre education interventions that over the past 15 years have not resulted in sustained, improved education outcomes in urban communities.

This post, with an anonymous author, reviews the research on value-added measurement, with frequent references to those who claim that the rise or fall of test scores is the best way to judge teacher quality.


The basic question he or she addresses is whether the actions of your kindergarten teacher or your third-grade teacher can affect your lifetime earnings, as Raj Chetty and his team asserted in a study a few years back.


The author goes into a lengthy back-and-forth about whether such claims make sense.


But the one essential fact that his post is missing is that 70% of teachers do not teach tested subjects. A district or school can evaluate teachers with VAM only when there are enough years of test scores to document the effects of the teacher over several years. Teachers of subjects other than reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 will never get VAM ratings.


But many states have solved this problem by assigning VAM ratings to the 70%. Their ratings are based on the scores of students they never met in subjects they never taught. This is called an “attributed rating.”


That makes sense, said no one ever.


That may be why Hawaii and Oklahoma have dropped VAM. It is expensive and gives false positives and false negatives. Expect more states to join these two states.

Paul Sagan, the chair of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees and approves charter schools, gave $100,000 to the campaign to raise the cap on charters. This is a blatant conflict of interest. He is supposed to review and monitor, not cheerlead for them.

Please sign this petition to Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts calling to him to seek Paul Sagan’s resignation.

The petition says:

This year, 231 local school districts will lose more than $450 million to charter schools, even after state reimbursements. If Question 2 passes, it would more than triple the number of charter schools in just ten years, and take away more than $1 billion a year from our local public schools.

This article came out in the New York Review of Books several months ago. It is one of the very few articles I have seen in the mainstream media that was written by a non-educator and that recognizes that the 1% want to privatize public education.

Michael Massing published a two-part essay on the 1% and how journalists should cover them.

How should the media cover the power elite, he asks.

He writes:

Despite fizzling out within months, Occupy Wall Street succeeded in changing the terms of political discussion in America. Inequality, the concentration of wealth, the one percent, the new Gilded Age—all became fixtures of national debate thanks in part to the protesters who camped out in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Even the Republican presidential candidates have felt compelled to address the matter. News organizations, meanwhile, have produced regular reports on the fortunes of the wealthy, the struggles of the middle class, and the travails of those left behind.

Even amid the outpouring of coverage of rising income inequality, however, the richest Americans have remained largely hidden from view. On all sides, billionaires are shaping policy, influencing opinion, promoting favorite causes, polishing their images—and carefully shielding themselves from scrutiny. Journalists have largely let them get away with it. News organizations need to find new ways to lift the veil off the superrich and lay bare their power and influence. Digital technology, with its flexibility, speed, boundless capacity, and ease of interactivity, seems ideally suited to this task, but only if it’s used more creatively than it has been to date.

And here is some detail on a member of the power elite:

To get an idea of how journalists might proceed, imagine for a moment that DealBook decided to adopt a new approach dedicated to revealing the power and influence of the financial elite. What might it look like? A good starting point is a DealBook posting that appeared in May on the “Top 5 Hedge Fund Earners.” For each, DealBook provided his 2014 earnings along with a brief biographical note. Heading the list was Kenneth Griffin, the CEO of the Chicago-based Citadel, whose income for the year came to a whopping $1.3 billion. Here in full was the accompanying note: “Mr. Griffin started by trading convertible bonds out of his dormitory at Harvard. His firm, Citadel, posted returns of 18 percent to investors in its flagship Kensington and Wellington funds.”

Appearing beneath the note was a link to two Times articles. One of them, from July 24, 2014, described the acrimonious divorce proceedings between Griffin and his wife, Anne Dias Griffin, who ran her own investment firm and who had helped elevate her husband’s status in the art world. The other article, dated April 2, 2015, described Griffin’s contribution of more than $1 million to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign for his second term as mayor of Chicago. It mentioned some of the large political donations Griffin has made in the past, including the more than $13 million he gave to Bruce Rauner, a Republican, in his successful campaign for governor of Illinois in 2014. The piece also noted that Griffin has given $150 million to Harvard College for its financial aid program and spent $30 million for two apartments in the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.

While useful, this information barely scratched the surface of Griffin’s influence. Going online, I tried to piece together a fuller picture. According to the Chicago Business Journal, Griffin is considered the richest person in Illinois. A post on CNBC’s website said that Citadel’s recent success “has arguably made Griffin the most powerful figure in hedge funds.” Unfortunately, it did not say what forms that power takes. At—the excellent database of the Center for Responsive Politics—Griffin and his then wife are listed as the thirteenth-largest contributor to Super PACs in 2014, with large sums going to both American Crossroads (cofounded by Karl Rove) and America Rising, which does opposition research on Democratic candidates.

That’s pretty interesting that the same billionaire funded Rahm Emanuel, Bruce Rauner, and Republican super-PACs.

I will post the second part tomorrow.

Sit down and enjoy a good read.