Parent, Education, and Privacy Groups Oppose Overturning The Ban On A Federal Student Database

Leonie Haimson, the co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, allowed me to share a press release issued by today by the following groups: Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, American Civil Liberties Union, Network for Public Education and NPE Action, Parents Across America, Badass Teachers Association, and New York State Allies for Public Education.

This morning a letter was sent to the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking from parent groups, education advocates, and privacy experts, urging them against proposing that the ban on a centralized federal database of student personal data be overturned. 

Recently, several DC-based groups testified before the Commission, urging that this ban be lifted, which was established by Congress as part of the Higher Education Act in 2008.  The Gates Foundation has also announced that the creation of a centralized federal database to track students from preK through college, the workforce and beyond is one of their top advocacy priorities for 2017.

In the letter, parent, privacy and education organizations warned that eliminating this ban would risk that highly sensitive information would breached, as has occurred with sensitive data held by many federal agencies in recent years.  A hack into the Office of Personal Management released personnel records of about 22.1 million individuals. More recently, an audit of the US Department of Education found serious security flaws in their data systems, and a government security scorecard awarded the agency an overall grade of D.

Moreover, K-12 student data currently collected by states that would potentially be incorporated in the federal database often include upwards of 700 specific personal data elements, including students’ immigrant status, disabilities, disciplinary records, and homelessness. Data collected ostensibly for the sole purpose of research would likely be merged with other federal agency data and could include information from their census, military service, tax returns, criminal and health records.

Said Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, whose members led the fight against inBloom, designed to capture and share the personal student data of nine states and districts, “A centralized federal database containing the personal data of every public-school student would pose an even greater risk to individual privacy than inBloom.  It would allow the government to create dossiers on nearly every United States resident over time, and if breached or abused would cause immeasurable damage.”

As privacy advocates in England recently discovered, the personal information in a similar national student database that the government promised would be used only for research purposes has been secretly requested by the police and by the Home Office, in part to identify and locate undocumented children and their families.

“Our disastrous data privacy situation here in England should serve to warn Americans of the grave dangers of this sort of comprehensive student surveillance and database. The personal confidential information in our National Pupil Database was supposed to be used only for research, but we found out recently that data on thousands of students and their families has been secretly requested by the police and for the purposes of immigration control in just the last 15 months. It would be unwise and irresponsible for the United States to create a similar database, which can so easily be used for political purposes which are not in all children’s best interests,” said Jen Persson, coordinator of defenddigitalme, a privacy and digital rights group in the UK.

Chad Marlow, Advocacy& Policy Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “Improving educational opportunities for children and protecting student privacy are not mutually exclusive goals.  In fact, it is our responsibility as parents, educators, and Americans to doggedly pursue both objectives.  Creating any type of centralized database for personally identifiable student data would pose real and significant risks to the privacy of America’s students, and that is why such databases have consistently been rejected in the past.  With education policy, as with privacy, ‘do no harm’ is a reasonable place to start, and here, doing no harm clearly requires rejecting any attempts to establish a universal database that compiles and tracks students’ most sensitive information.”

Diane Ravitch, President of the Network for Public Education and NPE Action pointed out, “Whether Democrat or Republican, the one thing parents agree on is the importance of their child’s privacy. To allow the federal government to collect personal and sensitive data on every public-school student in the nation risks that this information would be misused by the government and corporations. “

“Parents Across America opposes any effort to establish a national student record system. Ever since the federal government weakened protections for student privacy, parents have been in a crisis mode. Our children are exposed every school day to a growing mish-mash of screen devices and online programs that capture mountains of their data. We know that the threat to privacy will only get worse if there’s a national record system; education profiteers will line up to tap into an even more convenient source of private student information. But we are determined not to let that happen to our children’s data,” said Julie Woestehoff, Interim Executive Director of Parents Across America.

Lisa Rudley, Executive Director of the NY State Allies for Public Education, observed, “Data collection and sharing of our children’s personally identifiable information should require a parent’s informed consent. Just because the technology of data mining is here, it doesn’t mean children’s privacy rights should be sacrificed.”

“Our children and their families deserve protection of their data.  More importantly, we must understand that protecting our children relies upon protecting their personal information from breach or abuse,” concluded Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director of the Badass Teachers Association.

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking is accepting public comment on this matter until December 14, 2016. For more information, visit the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy website here: http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/federaldatasystem/

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I certainly hope the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association add similar public comments to this massive plan of Bill Gates…

The Creepy Personalized Learning Virtual Reality “Genie” In Reasoning Mind Math: Who Is Behind The Avatar?

 When a “personalized” MATH program admittedly creates a virtual reality “Genie” to become a child’s best friend… what happens when email secrets start to go out, along with confessions about themselves and their home life?  Many parents in America are very concerned.  Who is behind the Genie? Who gets the information?  When they found out that BILL GATESRUSSIA, and the US DOE are promoting and/or paying for this….  let’s just say they became more concerned.  Please read and share this so more parents can become aware of this child predator in the making!  As for the Genie… Well, how would you feel if your child was emailing grown men, disguised as a friendly Genie?  In another country?

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Reasoning Mind Math reasoningmind.org

The non-profit Reasoning Mind offers “personalized” on-line math curriculum and a computer-based “Genie” who is virtually a child’s best friend, and knows personal things about them, even confessions.  As first noted in this RM document posted by a blogger known as Educray, Reasoning Mind math curriculum  places a large emphasis on teaching Soviet-style morals, collectivism, and the importance of labor (Tudge, 1991).  Reasoning Mind has given some parents reason to worry.   So, let’s take a look at Reasoning Mind and see what could possibly cause concern.

“The Genie”, according to this Reasoning Mind report:

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that students are quite “attached” to Genie, who regularly receives (and answers) email on topics beyond the scope of the learning software, including jokes, requests for friendship, and  confessions about students’ home life.”

“Every day, Reasoning Mind elementary students send hundreds of messages to the Genie, a “friend and mentor” who guides students through their studies. Here’s our favorite student message from this week. And yes, the Genie does respond!”

 

 

reasoning-mind-genie-message

Since Reasoning Mind offers “personalized” curriculum that knows and also remembers the student, a child can log into RM from home or school. And since it’s adaptive and personalized, RM and Genie will keep track of the child, will remember their profile. If RM and Genie can track a child into consecutive grades,  like an old friend,  Genie will be able to pick up the profile where the child left off last year.  While proponents would say keeping track of learners’ profiles is beneficial, this massive accumulation of student information also begs the question of data privacy, risk, and security.

With all that PERSONAL communication being directly and indirectly (ie: analyzing emotions) shared with RM’s Genie, we wondered what their data sharing agreements and Privacy Policy  look like. If a parent were curious what data was collected and shared on their child, this is what they would find if they went to Reasoning Mind’s website.  There is nothing posted about how RM uses and analyzes and shares the noncognitive and personal information that children are providing to RM and to Genie while logged onto their curriculum.  There is no mention of how RM complies with COPPA law.

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Given the many Supporters  and In-Kind Contributors of Reasoning Mind, spanning the globe, parents wonder if organizations like Salesforce, Microsoft, Russian Petroleum, Google, Swagger Films, etc. are allowed access to their child’s profile or personal information.  We know that data is money.

Money and Moscow Connections:

Non-profits must make public their tax returns (form 990).  Here are 990 returns available for Reasoning Mind. Looking at the 2014 return tells us a lot; for starters, Reasoning Mind is connected.

Connected to each other:  Page 32…   FORM 990, PART VI, SECTION A, THE PRESIDENT AND CEO IS MARRIED TO ONE OF THE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT’S AND THEIR SON IS (LINE2) ALSO A SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Connected to Russia:
Pages 7 and 8 of their 2014 form 990 tax return.  Note the Russia Connections:
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Page 22 of RM’s 2014 return shows Moscow did the computer Programming and Testing of end product (remember that GEF MAP I posted a few months ago).
reasoning-mind-2014-pg-22-tested-in-russia

 

Reasoning Mind is Connected to Bill Gates, with this $300k grant for a math pilot  as seen in Gates Foundation 2011 990 form (hint: take a look for other interesting awardees)

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Reasoning Mind is AGAIN connected to Bill Gates with this $700+ grant awarded in 2011  for alternative human capital models and Common Core aligned math pilot targeting minority children.
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Reasoning Mind is featured in this 2013 US Department of Education publication that focuses on “New technologies using educational data mining and “affective computing”:
promoting-grit
“There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success… —it is the responsibility of the educational community to design learning environments that promote these factors so that students are prepared to meet 21st-century challenges.
Several private foundations have recently initiated programs to push the frontiers of theory, measurement, and practice around these and related factors, particularly for at-risk and vulnerable students. In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics….
Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance mentions Reasoning Mind as an example of  a system that customizes to a student’s cognitive profile and emotional state (e.g., frustration or boredom) using inputs from physiological indicators and facial expressions” and  they also mention experimenting with “animated, affective [digital] agents perceived as caring can increase the likelihood that students will persist through frustrating portions of instruction”.
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Reasoning Mind is connected to Rice University, an advisor to Reasoning Minds, Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian is also the Director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Additionally, Dr. Neal Lane, Professor Emeritus, Rice University; Former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Former Assistant to the President for Science and Technology; Former Director of the National Science Foundation–sits on the board of RM.
Reasoning Mind is connected to Columbia University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute who did a study on the “affect and behavior among students at three schools using Reasoning Mind, a game-based software system”.   This study was  paid for by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   The researchers reporthigh student engagement with this learning system“.  The researchers attribute student engagement to the game-based nature and also because children were embracing the genie as a friend and confidant:
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that students are quite attached to Genie, who regularly receives (and answers) email on topics beyond the scope of the learning software, including jokes, requests for friendship, and confessions about students’ home life.  On the basis of these reports, it seems that the effect of Genie deserves more careful consideration, as the success of her design may contribute significantly to the high levels of engagement observed.  Finally, we should consider the many game-like elements in its design, including a point system that rewards students for speed drills and puzzles. Once sufficient points have been accumulated, students may furnish their own virtual space within RM City or buy virtual books. Particularly at a young age, this kind of autonomy is likely very appealing.”
Some have questioned whether RM’s Genie is gaining children’s trust and using a reward system to train children to  respond in much the same way that  the Russian researcher, Pavlov,  conditioned his dogs.  Speaking of experiments and research…

Is it any wonder that students areengaged in this video-gaming atmosphere?  They are engaged because many like Dr. Kardaras, author of Glow Kids,  know: online games are addictive.

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Online Curriculum– or Spying on Children?

This 1984 quote by Dustin Heuston (Geuston), Utah’s World Institute for Computer-Assisted Teaching, seems  remarkably fitting if not foreboding:
We’ve been absolutely staggered by realizing that the computer has the capability to act as if it were 10 of the top psychologists working with one student… you’ve seen the tip of the iceberg. Won’t it be wonderful when the child in the smallest county in the most distant area or in the most confused urban setting can have the equivalent of the finest school in the world on that terminal and no one can get between that child and that curriculum?”-Dustin H. Heuston, “Discussion–Developing the Potential of an Amazing Tool,” Schooling and Technology, Vol.3, Planning for the Future: A Collaborative Model, published by Southeastern Regional Council for Educational Improvement, P.O. Box 12746, 200 Park, Suite 111, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709/ Grant from National Institute of Education, p. 8.
Even more fascinating and startling is this 2010 research on monitoring engagement [curriculum-usage compliance and Academic learning time (ALT)] of preschoolers while interacting with online curriculum, done by Edward B Heuston of Brigham Young UniversityHis conclusion:
“The ability to remotely and accurately quantify interaction with a computer-based curriculum and assessment in the home defines a new vista in ALT research.”
Should parents and teachers (and friends) and human social interactions be replaced by online “affective” avatar agents, who profile childhood secrets, moods, emotions, failures, and flaws? Will artificial, virtual “friends” like Genie become the Oracle that children consult, confide in? … and take direction from?
Perhaps, parents are wise to question who the Great Oz is behind the curtain.  The entity (or persons), receiving and profiling the hearts and minds of their connected children, both at home and in classrooms.  What has to happen before parents realize the danger they are allowing to come into their child’s life?  Every time you sign a consent form, are you getting this kind of information?  I highly doubt it.  And are parents bothering to educate themselves on privacy policies and how data is disseminated?  I doubt it.  The wolf isn’t at the door.  It is in your home…

The Gates Foundation Isn’t Even Hiding It Anymore… The Complete Transformation Of Education Brought To You By Billionaires

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Bill Gates wants a Federal Student Data Tracking System.  That’s right.  He also wants competency-based education, more career pathways programs, and personalized learning to take over public education.  This is the same guy who funded Common Core.  Remember that when you read the document released by the Gates Foundation today.  If I had to guess, now that many education bloggers have exposed all the agendas which will lead to the Bit-Coin inspired Blockchain Initiative, the corporate education reformers (clearly led by Bill Gates) have nothing to lose by getting it all out there now.  Now I know why U.S. Senator Chris Coons (Delaware) is chomping at the bit for his post-secondary legislation to get passed by Congress.

Read this.  Every single word.  Read between the lines.  This is the endgame they have been pushing for, the complete and utter destruction of public education in anticipation of online education for all.  Where you will be tracked from cradle to grave, with data allowed to be looked at through a federal database, which will track everything about you.  The sad part is they play to civil rights groups by assuring more success for minorities.  They screw over students with disabilities every chance they get.  But their manipulation of under-served communities is at an all-time high in this document.  Words like “outcome-based funding” scare the crap out of me, and it should for every single American.  Look at all the footnotes in the below document.  Look at the companies and think-tanks that are reaping immense profits for every bogus report they come out with.  Look how embedded this already is in every single state and our national government.

While this document is geared towards higher education, its goals are for ALL education.  It is all about creating the “workforce of tomorrow”.  He mentions Jobs For the Future at the very end of the document.  Just take a look at the corporate education reform madness they push out.  I have no doubt Gates is concerned about the workforce of tomorrow.  By making sure we are all learning online, Microsoft continues to profit.  And all the other ed tech companies are chomping at the bit for their big paydays of the future.  This is ALL about corporate profit.

Hillary Clinton will, in all likelihood, be our next President.  She is all in on this.  Every single step.  And she has been since the very beginning.  The question is if we can, as everyday Americans, education enough people to rise up and tell our government to stop selling out education to investors, hedge fund managers, and ed tech companies.  That will be the challenge.  How do you stop corporations and billionaires from taking over not only education but the entire economy?  It takes courage and strength, bravery and daring.  It is in all of us.  Now we have to bring it out more than ever so we can turn the future into one of our design, not those who wish to be prophets and profit.

The above picture was from the following link: https://www.quora.com/Which-2016-presidential-candidate-does-Bill-Gates-support

 

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Guest Post by Anani Maas

A Concerned Delaware Teacher Speaks Out

Emily Talmadge in her blog Save Maine Schools challenged readers to research how Bill Gates has gone undercover in our own states after she discovered how Gates has used his vast resources to drive the corporate education reform agenda in hers.

So, I decided to take her up on her challenge.

Let’s begin with the federal Race to the Top incentive grant, a carrot dangled at states to “force cash-strapped states to make radical changes in education in order to stay in the running—changes a National Research Council report (10/7/09) warned were not backed by research. Instead of dispersing grant money on the basis of greatest need, RTTT chooses a few winners based on the degree to which the states deliver what the feds want: more charter schools, so-called merit pay for teachers and new curriculum standards known as the Common Core” (Ohanian, 2010).  As we know, Delaware was one of the very first states to receive the grant in 2010 to the tune of $19 million because they quickly jumped on the “opportunity” the RTTT grant promised.  Read the rest of Ohanian’s article to see how Bill Gates’ money was connected to Race to the Top.

It is well documented that Bill Gates bankrolled the Common Core State Standards revolution in Lindsey Layton’s well-researched article for the Washington Post in June, 2014. For a refresher, you can read it here.

This leads to the Smarter Balanced State Assessment that is in place to test student’s acquisition of the Common Core State Standards. And if your school doesn’t have the technology available to administer the tests, Microsoft is ready to help you out!  (Even though Bill Gates himself is quick to point out how his efforts are solely philanthropy and in the best interest of ALL children! Bill Gates says so here.)

In addition to Common Core State Standards, Gates has bankrolled the Next Generation Science Standards as well. The authors of NGSS are Achieve, Inc. and, of course, Achieve, Inc. has received generous awards from the Gates Foundation. (see here)  Now that Delaware has secured the Smarter Balanced Test, it is time for them to move on to initiate a similar test aligned to the CCSS and the NextGen Standards.

But Bill and Melinda Gates’ money doesn’t stop there. How has their money directly found its way to Delaware in the effort to drive his corporate education agenda?

“Another key requirement [of the RTTT grant] is “using data to improve instruction.” This means basing classroom lessons on data collected from highly criticized standardized tests” (Ohanian, 2010).

Delaware DOE contracted with New America Foundation to implement the Delaware Data Coach Program.  “One of only two winners from the original, stimulus funded Race to the Top competition, the Delaware Department of Education dedicated $8.2 million over two years of its $19 million grant to the Data Coach Program” (McCann and Kabaker, 2013).  New America Foundation has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year since at least 2009.

Copied from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation Grants Awarded page.

New America Foundation 2015 Postsecondary Success US Program $2,400,000
New America Foundation 2014 College-Ready US Program $370,000
New America Foundation 2014 Postsecondary Success US Program $235,000
New America Foundation 2013 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $740,000
New America Foundation 2013 College-Ready US Program $200,002
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $1,450,000
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $110,000
New America Foundation 2011 Postsecondary Success US Program $530,000
New America Foundation 2010 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,300,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $450,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,500,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $250,000

Curiosity seized me, so on the same Gate’s Foundation database for grants awarded, I decided simply to put “Delaware” in the search engine and these names popped up:

Delaware State University

Rodel Charitable Foundation

Association of Educational Publishers

Delaware Department of Education

I haven’t quite figured out why Gates gave $400,000 to the Delaware DDOE in 2013 and $322,525 in 2009.

I did see that the Gates Foundation gave a grant to the Delaware PTA in 2012 “to provide parent and community training on CCSS throughout Delaware.” Although, on page 18 of the same report, the DSEA reports that “DDOE has failed to fill this gap and has not provided resources for DPTA to continue its CCSS work” (Johnson, 2015).  So what happened to the money?

Gate’s money has paid for yet another set of standards. The Delaware Academy for School Leadership is one of the new organizations that has been developed to train new school leaders throughout the nation in the new The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.  These new standards have been developed through the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with the National Policy Board on Educational Administration (NPBEA) to help strengthen preparation programs in school leadership. Again, searching the Gate’s Foundation database, I found that the Gates Foundation has awarded 21 grants to The Council of Chief State School Officers ranging from $25,000 to $6,148,749 between 2009 and 2015.  Therefore, Bill Gates gets to determine what knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, and performance are essential for new school leaders who lead our district schools.

This is only the digging I was able to accomplish in one afternoon! I am so thoroughly enraged at the way Bill Gates and his buddy billionaires have been able to single-handedly determine the direction of every level of our educational system to promote his agenda.  He is systematically buying into every level of education to propagate his message: lobbying parents through their trusted PTA’s, brainwashing novice teacher and administrators by controlling their teacher and administrator training programs, contributing to politicians on both sides of the aisle,  and stimulating new non-profits, charter schools and department of education cronies who will promote his propaganda.

While Bill Gates conspires to cash in by directing the education of every student in the United States from pre-K through graduate school, Delaware is simply selling out our students to the highest bidder.

The Governor Markell Legacy: Get Rich Education Schemes and The Dying In Wilmington

Six shootings on the same block in Wilmington.  What is up with this block?  If the cops know it is so bad, why don’t they do something?  I don’t get it.  A teenager was killed Friday.  A freshman at A.I. DuPont High School.  What’s it going to take?  How many more young lives have to be destroyed?  Governor Markell, your legacy will be a horrible education system and a city that has no vision except for the fake one at that non-profit building on 100 W. 10th St.  All under your watch.

Were these the dreams you had for Delaware?  You just don’t get it.  If you spent as much time on crime on Wilmington as you utilized the vast amount of resources for education, then I highly doubt you would see what we are all viewing in the news lately.  You have the top job.  It’s your job to oversee this state.  And all I see are tears and anguish.

You have two years.  Spend more time fixing this city than trying to fix the schools.  Stop with your allegiance to Rodel and Arne Duncan and Bill Gates.  Start fixing this city.  It’s not about the corporations you see from 95.  It’s about the people.  They are not human capital, commodities that can be bought and sold.  You are not going to be the next US Secretary of Education.  That ship has sailed.  I’ve heard where your next destination may be, and I’m okay with that.  But you are here now, and you need to set up the future for Delaware, not yourself.

The Truth About Education Reform, Charter Schools, Standardized Testing & Big Profits @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @ecpaige @TNJ_malbringt @DeDeptofEd #netde #eduDe #edchat

In a recent article in Politico magazine, entitled “The Plot Against Public Education: How Millionaires and Billionaires Are Ruining Our Schools”, writer Bob Hebert gave an excellent breakdown of how the education reform began and who profits the most from it.  As I’m sure we all know, it’s not the students or the teachers.  Billions of dollars have been wasted on this “reform” with no increase in results over time.  It all started with Bill Gates and has spiraled downhill from there.

Tonight is the Wilmington City Council meeting, and Delaware Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy will be in attendance to discuss the priority schools with the council.  Someone should give each council member a copy of this article so they know what the true endgame is here.

I’ve posted a link to the article, and a big thanks to State Representative Paul Baumbach for posting it over on Delaware Liberal.  The below quote are two questions that parents should be asking themselves at this point in time.

Those who are genuinely interested in improving the quality of education for all American youngsters are faced with two fundamental questions: First, how long can school systems continue to pursue market-based reforms that have failed year after demoralizing year to improve the education of the nation’s most disadvantaged children? And second, why should a small group of America’s richest individuals, families, and foundations be allowed to exercise such overwhelming—and often such toxic—influence over the ways in which public school students are taught?

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/the-plot-against-public-education-111630.html#ixzz3FfXytA7C

Guardians Of The Galaxy & Special Education

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

I just got back from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy with my son. It was a great movie, and everything I expect from a Marvel movie. With that being said, it made me think about special education. You can draw several comparisons between the Guardians and special needs children.

The Guardians are a group of five misfit heroes who start out on individual paths, but come together to fight the evil Kree Empire. While doing so, they save the lives of the citizens of Xandar. Starlord is their reluctant leader. Forced to deal with his mother’s death and a missing father, he is whisked away by Yondu as a child and is raised amongst a group of alien pirates. Gamora, a green-skinned alien, was adopted by the evil Thanos when he ravaged her planet. Drax the Destroyer is out for revenge against a Kree assassin named Ronan and Thanos. Rocket Raccoon is a sarcastic technical genius who was rebuilt as a walking talking raccoon. And Groot, all the kids will love Groot. Loveable, huggable, cuddable Groot. A walking tree who can only say three words: “I am Groot”.

You could say the Guardians are like special needs children. They have to deal with their anger and feelings of abandonment and group together in order to move forward. They are all vastly different, living lives of non-inclusion, until circumstances draw them together. The citizens of Xandar are the special needs parents and the regular parents who are against a universe ruled by a tyrant. The Nova Corps, the protectors of the realm, are the Badass Teachers, trying to make the universe a better place of peace and harmony. They want to allow people to have the freedom they deserve and to live without unnecessary compliance and micro-management.

The evil Kree Empire are the corporate educational reformers, charter schools that discriminate, and all those who favor a universe where everyone needs to be the same. The Infinity Stone, an object of immense power is Common Core and standardized testing. In the wrong hands, it is a force of destruction. Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, is Ronan the Accuser. He judges people who don’t fit his narrow view of the world. So who is the puppet master behind everything? The evil Thanos? That would be Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder. The one who wants to destroy everything educators worked so hard for.

The Guardians learn the value of friendship when the epiphany strikes them that despite their differences, they can do good in the universe. But they know if they don’t stop evil, they will be forced to live in a universe under the thrall of those who only want to destroy and make slaves of living beings. Sound familiar at all? That’s because this is going on now, in our very own country, with special education. So exceptional children and parents and badass teachers, let’s save the galaxy from the evil empire.

*I do not condone violence as depicted in the movie. Any comparisons are meant to show how people with differences are often hunted by those who do evil.

Bill Gates Blames Students for Failure of His Education Plans

Diane always hits the bulls eye with her first throw!

Diane Ravitch's blog

At a meeting in Los Alamos, Bill Gates said it was easier to find cures for malaria and other diseases than to “fix” American education. Being the richest man in America, people hang on his every word.

Gates again knocks U.S. education. He said that technology should help, but it only benefits motivated students, and the U.S. has lots of unmotivated students. Usually, he blames teachers. Now he blames students.

My favorite line in the article: Gates could not land his private jet at the Los Alamos airport because his plane is too big for the runway.

What Gates needs to know:

1. The terrible effects of poverty on children’s ability to succeed in school. The fact that the U.S. has the highest child poverty rate of all advanced nations. He should read Richard Rothstein’s enlightening book, “Class and Schools,” which summarizes the social science on this issue…

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