Margie Lopez Waite Wants To Raid Other Charter School’s Data To Get More Kids At DAPSS

I had to listen to that part of their board audio recording five times to make sure what I heard was right.  Newly crowned Head of School for Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Margie Lopez-Waite, at their July 18th board meeting, openly and publicly talked about getting private student information from other Delaware charter schools.  How is she going to do this? Continue reading

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US DOE Says Pennsylvania Charter School Violated FERPA By Not Allowing Parent To Opt Their Child Out Of Ed-Tech

This is very big.  The United States Department of Education ruled on a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint in favor of a parent about opting their child out of education technology in the classroom.  They went a step further and told the school they had to provide an alternative to the ed-tech as well.

The letter, sent to Agora Cyber Charter School in King of Prussia, PA, came out on November 2nd, 2017 (see below).  It ruled the school violated FERPA by denying the parent’s request for their child not to use the ed-tech from K12 Inc. due to their terms of service.  K12 could not make sure the information in their application would not go out to third parties.  The parent filed a complaint five years ago.  The US DOE letter said the charter school could not make this a condition of enrollment for the cyber charter school.

I would caution every single school in America that utilizes ed-tech in the classroom to make sure they are in compliance with this ruling!

Seaford Mother Outraged Over Potential Abuse From Seaford Teacher Towards Her Child With Autism

Tonight, Rob Petree with 105.9 wrote an article about a Seaford School District parent who is claiming a teacher took unnecessary physical measures against her child with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum.  The mother explained what happened.  When the student was told he could not go to the office when he became upset over not finding his writing journal, the mother claims the teacher took things a bit too far:

“My son said the teacher went so far as to stand in front of the door and block the door and not let him out. The teacher told him to get back in his seat, and he said ‘no I want to go to the office,’ and the teacher told him ‘no get in your seat or I’m going to put you in your seat,’ and Landon once again said no he wanted to go to the office, so the teacher grabbed him by his arm, picked him up, carried him across the room and slammed him down in his chair. Landon said he then got back up out of his chair and tried to go out the door again and the teacher wouldn’t let him out of the door. So he went over and sat down in the chair at the round table near the door, and the teacher again was telling him to get up and go get back in his seat and Landon refused. The teacher went over to try to grab ahold of Landon and Landon got upset, jumped up out of the chair, and grabbed the back of the chair and slammed the chair into the floor, trying to get around the teacher to get out the door. He said at that point the teacher said ‘I’ve had enough of this,’ and grabbed him up by his arm and physically carried him out of the door of the classroom, banging his forehead into the metal door facing in the process, and Landon said at that point as soon as the teacher sat him down in the hallway he ran straight to the office, and that’s when he called me.”

Even more alarming is the Seaford Middle School Principal’s response to her when she asked to see the video of the incident:

Today, I had a meeting with the Middle School Principal and basically what they told me today was that the teacher said that he asked Landon to leave several times and Landon wouldn’t leave the room, and that Landon was throwing pens, pencils, chairs and desks, and that they seen this on video; however, no one was able to produce any video to me showing my son behaving the way they said he behaved. I honestly, truly believe my son, and I believe this teacher is doing nothing but trying to protect himself and the school the same way. I cleaned my son’s locker out today, and he’s not going back to that school as long as that teacher is there.

This is unacceptable.  I found out today the same thing happened to the parents of the child who was assaulted last week at Caesar Rodney High School.  The district refused to release surveillance footage that captured the incident (and I will have more to say on that whole thing that hasn’t been made public yet).  I tagged tons of our state legislators on my Facebook page with a link to the 105.9 article asking for legislation that would demand schools release video to parents whenever their child is harmed in any possible way.

The district will not respond to any of this.  They will shut up unless they have to fire the teacher.  People ask me why I write so much about bad stuff happening in our schools instead of the good.  Sorry, this kind of crap outrages me.  You can have many great things happening in schools, but this is what folks remember and talk about.  This is a travesty.  Even if this teacher used proper restraint and seclusion practices as dictated by state law, the district should still release the video to the parent.  Instead, they are covering their asses.

A former board member for a district did tell me that video like this is released to the police department.  They will review it and eventually it would be shared with the parent(s).  I explained that the video could help a parent understand what happened.  It could be necessary for them to see it so the parent can seek sufficient medical or counseling treatment for their child.

I wrote an article last year on the Delaware Dept. of Education’s annual Restraint & Seclusion report.  Seaford Middle School had 13 incidents of restraint in the 2015-2016 school year.  Compared to Milford’s middle school which had 1.  In Seaford, they had 38 incidents of restraint affecting 21 students.  But if this situation played out anywhere close to what the mother is claiming, this was no ordinary restraint.  If it went down how she said it did, this teacher should face criminal charges for assault.  Dealing with special education students can be challenging for teachers and parents.  But if you don’t have the proper training required to take action like this, you should do nothing and contact someone who can help.  Sadly, for this student, it will be a day he will never forget.

I don’t care where a video is: cafeteria, classroom, bus, hallway or anywhere on school property.  If a parent asks to see it, you show it to them, no questions asked.  The act of withholding something like that immediately sends red flags up with parents.  Or saying you have it but then you don’t.  You reap what you sow with that kind of logic.  In the case of the Family Educational Records Protection Act (FERPA), that applies to educational records.  If a parent requests records on their child, the school is obligated to produce it.  But is surveillance video considered an educational record?  That will be the argument here.  But I don’t care.  If a kid gets hurt, you do the right thing and show the parent.  Cause it could mean the difference between a parent deciding whether or not to sue the district.

This should NOT happen in our schools.  Tonight, I am very pissed off.  At this.  At Caesar Rodney.  At other districts where I am trying to help parents navigate through special education issues with schools.  So much of what I help parents with are things every school should know by now.  Districts and charters complain all the time about getting sued so much and the “predatory” law firms.  Guess what?  The very act of protecting yourself is usually what gets you sued.  How does that work out for you?

Updated, 9:50pm: A big thank you to special education advocate Devon Hynson for providing a link to what FERPA says about surveillance videos-

Schools are increasingly using security cameras as a tool to monitor and improve student safety. Images of students captured on security videotapes that are maintained by the school’s law enforcement unit are not considered education records under FERPA.  Accordingly, these videotapes may be shared with parents of students whose images are on the video and with outside law enforcement authorities, as appropriate. Schools that do not have a designated law enforcement unit might consider designating an employee to serve as the “law enforcement unit” in order to maintain the security camera and determine the appropriate circumstances in which the school would disclose recorded images.

 

Parent Toolkit For Student Privacy Is A MUST READ For Any Parent, Educator, or Legislator!!!!

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the Coalition for a Commercial-Free Childhood released their Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy on May 16th.  Full disclaimer, I actively participate and sometimes contribute to discussion surround student data privacy with the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

As our schools dive into more and more digital technology in classrooms, many parents have seen things that disturb them.  Is our children’s data protected?  Not as much as you think it might be.  The laws surrounding student data privacy are filled with loopholes and confusing wording.  It is more imperative than ever that parents wake up to this new reality facing their children.

To that end, I highly praise this report and believe every single school, state agency involving education, and any organization around education should give this to every single parent.  Opting out is NOT just about standardized tests, it is also about unwelcome intrusions into things about our children that, frankly, are nobody’s business.

America Is Getting Bamboozled With Betsy Devos! She Is All In On The True Agenda: Cradle To Grave Workforces Of Tomorrow

It’s real easy to play Monday morning quarterback after your team just took a huge hit.  Donald Trump promised (and fooled) many citizens into thinking he could get rid of Common Core.  So much so that his pick for Secretary of Education is now backtracking on her years of actions financially supporting Common Core.  She sits on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.  This foundation LOVES Common Core and all that comes with it.  DeVos, through the Betsy and Steve DeVos Foundation, poured millions of dollars into pro-Common Core candidates.

On some Betsy DeVos Question and Answer website that sprung out of nowhere, she denounces Common Core.  This website was created on 8/16/16, but her picture was just added this month.  This isn’t some long-time website that shows the DeVos denunciation of Common Core.  This website was created specifically for the possibility of a Trump win.  Why would anyone put up a q and a website unless they knew what the opposition would immediately come out with?  This is what she has to say about Common Core.  Items in red are my response to that.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about Common Core. Can you provide some straight talk on this topic?

Certainly. I am not a supporter—period.

Financial support into candidates and states that support it IS supporting it.

I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense. 

State standards, as written in the Every Student Succeeds Act, are now state decisions.  Trump couldn’t dump them if he tried.  There is a big difference between state and local decisions.  The states now call the shots on education.  The locals are just along for the ride.  Local control of education is a thing of the past.

Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.

I don’t even know what that means Betsy DeVos.  Common Core wasn’t created because kids weren’t doing their homework.  It was set up for a VERY specific reason which I will get to soon.

However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.

A very intentional federalized boondoggle where states gave up ALL control to the feds.  Once the states adopted the standards, it didn’t end there.  In came the standardized testing, the accountability game that judges failing schools based on those same tests, as well as the longitudinal data (which was the real purpose which I will also get to later) creation in every state to allow student data to go out.  Once everything was set up in the states through Federal funds (most of which did not go to local schools but to state Departments of Education who paid education reform companies billions of dollars), then the reauthorization of ESEA came about.  ESSA is the shift towards this future.  Giving the illusion of state control based on federal mandates and snake-oil deals from the Obama administration.

Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.

Every single corporate education reformer says this, but being pro-school choice has not equated to greater educational improvement for children overall.  Especially children that are minorities, low-income, English Language learners, and students with disabilities. 

Betsy DeVos, through her foundation work for her own foundation as well as others, has been on of the biggest driving forces for the privatization of American public education.  But why?  Where is all of this going?

As I put up my post about DeVos selection for the U.S. Secretary of Education, I was met with an onslaught of comments stating she doesn’t support Common Core.  Actions speak louder than words.  I immediately directed readers to this excellent post showing how she DOES support Common Core and how.  And then I wrote this:

To put this in a very easy way to understand, Common Core was created to train young minds for constant all-the-time digital learning.  State assessments (based on Common Core) will become stealth assessments embedded in personalized learning/competency-based education environments. Once they bust the unions, traditional school districts will fall. Charters will go online. Our young kids will go to local non-profits to learn online while older kids learn online in a pay to earn environment through Charter Online Inc. Meanwhile, all this data from ed tech is tracking every student and whoring out their personal data and gearing them towards pre-determined professions that corporations want, not the kids. Who do you think will profit from this? Charters. Teachers will become glorified moderators while parents watch their rights slowly disappear. Their kids will go to community health-based centers for everything. This is the grand agenda. There is nothing Trump can do to stop it. Complete control over the future by corporations. Read into plans for Blockchain technology to see where all of this is going…. This has NEVER been about kids. It has always been about corporate profit.

We are now at a huge tipping point with public education.  I’ve actually seen parents today, on anti-Common Core Facebook pages, actually trying to convince me DeVos is a good pick and to give her a chance.  This is what the corporate education reformers do best.  They pit people against each other.  While everyone is arguing about this and that, they are getting things done.  Planting seeds to get the whole thing done.  They are the masters of distraction.  Bill Gates is just one of them.  Today, we saw another billionaire get the top education job in the country.  With no background of ever being an educator.  Do you really think it is a coincidence that the past three Secretaries of Education have been fervent supporters of school choice, charter schools, and “higher standards”?  You can call Common Core whatever you want.  But it is the same everywhere, in every state.  It is just a vessel to much bigger plans, a complete and utter transformation of society where the top will always be on the top, but true choice and upward mobility for the rest will be on the bottom.  It is central to destroying who we are as a nation.  A nation of freedom and free will.  That will be stripped from us, forever.  We will become the cradle to grave workforce with the rich and elite overlords looking down upon us.  The future generations of today’s rich and elite who use their money and influence to reshape society to their mold.

This was going to happen no matter who won the Presidency.  Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein… it didn’t matter.  Who do you really think is running the show?  Politicians?  No.  It is corporations.  Follow the money.  Read the stuff that is coming out right now through ESSA.  Sift through the smoke and open your eyes America.  And act.  Do something.  They have you fooled.  Everyone is going nuts about Trump, both sides.  Love or hate.  Meanwhile, no one is talking about the WOIA bills in every state.  Or the ed tech invasion happening in your schools.  Or the shift towards getting rid of number grades towards the same type of scores on standardized tests.  How many states are developing “Pathways” programs which shift education towards a pre-determined career rather than moving on to college?  Trump doesn’t matter.  Not in the long run.  Neither did Clinton.  This was going to happen before your very eyes.

Do you hear anyone, aside from student privacy groups, demanding Trump restore FERPA to pre-2008 and 2011 levels?  No.  Do you hear anyone making a big deal about the Bill Gates driven work group that is deciding data sharing at ALL levels?  No.  Do you know why?  Because they are distracting you.  And they are succeeding.

Someone wrote to me on Facebook today that to change things would require a rebellion.  That person wasn’t promoting it.  I am.  It is what we need.  And it has to happen now.  Please share this article.  Spread it.  Make sure people see it and see the truth about what is happening.  The reformers will say I am a conspiracy theorist.  I will gladly take that.  Because this is a vast conspiracy that has been playing out for decades.  And they aren’t done yet.  Time for a rebellion.

Could A Secretary Of Education Bill Evers Stop The Whoring Out Of Personal Student Data?

In 2011, the Obama Administration changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act so third parties would have access to personal student data.  This has been a major point of contention on this blog for over a year now.  Our children are guinea pigs for state departments of education, the feds, and more corporate education reform companies than you can shake a leg at.  But we could have some relief if Bill Evers is selected as the United States Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.

While I don’t like some of Evers’ thoughts on charter schools and school vouchers, I do immensely enjoy what he said in a hearing on Common Core in Ohio.  This is what he said about student data privacy and the changes to FERPA in 2011.  Thanks to Education Next for reporting this back in 2013!

Data about Ohio students will flow to the U.S. Department of Education through PARCC, the national test consortium to which Ohio belongs. In return for the money it received from the federal government, PARCC has to provide the U.S, Department of education with its student-level data.  Ohio can do nothing about this as long as it is in a federally-funded national test consortium.  It would have to leave PARCC to block this process of data transfer.

This issue is of personal concern to me.  When I was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, the student privacy office was part of my portfolio.  Until December 2011, the U.S. Department of Education interpreted the student privacy protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) strictly, but reasonably.

But in 2011, the Obama administration turned those protections upside down. The Obama administration reinterpreted technical terms and provisions of the law to allow access to student personal data to non-education government agencies and to private vendors and contractors. It removed requirements that parents had to give consent if third-parties were given  access to student personal data. The Obama administration made this change, in large measure, to facilitating workforce planning by government agencies.

We live in a time of concern about abuse of data collection and data management — by the NSA, the IRS, and other agencies. Ohio policymakers should be concerned about the privacy of student personal data and its possible misuse.

To facilitate workforce planning by government agencies… there we have it!  And we thought Hillary Clinton would stop that?  Hell no!  Is Trump involved in this “workforce planning”?  That is the whole point of all that we are seeing in education: Common Core, high-stakes standardized tests, Pathways to Prosperity, all the education technology, the very bad accountability standards, the smoke and mirrors with teachers which are causing more teachers to leave the profession, the educator quick prep programs like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the plethora of companies that are profiting immensely while students do without.  All of these were and are designed to create this workforce of tomorrow.  A plan geared towards tracking and pushing students into certain career paths.  They love to say it is for the greater good, but don’t be fooled!  It is control, pure and simple.  I don’t trust anything going on at the state or federal level.  But I do know a lot of it hinges on the data.  And if these companies are robbed of the opportunity to get private information about students, that is a major monkey wrench in their plans.

In 2015, former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was fighting an opt out bill in the First State.  He told the press something to the effect of “It’s the data.  The data is important to us.”  Don’t quote me on that, but it was all about the data.  It was probably the truest thing the guy ever said.  When will we reach the point when we can firmly put this corporate education reform era to bed?  When can educators get the respect they need and our students can learn without being subjected to being nothing more than lab rats for government and corporate agendas?  There is no better time like the present!

There is a petition already out on Change.org to send to President Trump to have Evers appointed as the next United States Secretary of Education.  Please sign the petition NOW!

https://www.change.org/p/president-elect-donald-j-trump-appoint-an-education-secretary-with-integrity

History Is A Set Of Lies Agreed Upon: The Delaware DOE’s Trojan Horse That Shares Personal Student Data

Napoleon once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.”  In Delaware, the state has been sharing personal student data in the form of a benign computer program designed on the surface to help students.  This is a program that is so layered in varying shades of legality and loophole in state and federal law no person could ever realistically figure it all out.  Luckily, I am not one of those people.  So what is the Trojan horse inserted into every single school district and charter school in the state?  Hint: it’s NOT the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Continue reading

Lisa Blunt Rochester STILL Can’t Say “I Support A Parent’s Right To Opt Out”, She Is A Vote For Rodel

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At a League of Women Voter’s candidate forum tonight at Delaware State University, Delaware candidates for Congress and Insurance Commissioner debated about many topics.  Delaware State Senator Colin Bonini was unable to make it, so John Carney didn’t come, even though the Green candidate for Governor showed up.  La Mar Gunn wasn’t able to make it, to Bethany Hall-Long left shortly after the debate began.

But Lisa Blunt Rochester… she still can’t say the words: “I support a parent’s right to opt out.”  A question came up about abolishing Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (and it, surprisingly, didn’t come from me).  I will be (no pun intended) blunt and admit my question was “Yes or No, do you support a parent’s right to opt out of standardized testing.”  But the Common Core/SBAC one had Republican candidate Hans Reigle and Libertarian candidate Scott Gesty both openly admit their loathing of Common Core and Smarter Balanced and that they support a parent’s right to opt out.  She snuck in towards the end that she supports parental rights, but it’s not the same thing and she knows it.

I have no doubt the Insurance Commissioner candidates, Republican Jeff Cragg and Democrat Trinidad Navarro thought to themselves, “I’m an insurance guy, I’m not answering that political hot potato.”  Can’t say I blame them, but Blunt-Rochester knows it is a big topic in Delaware.  And she either insults parents who do opt their kids out or just ignores it.  But I don’t think she understands what Markell and the Delaware DOE have done to students in this state.

“For me, as I look at the whole issue of testing, I don’t think we should be teaching to a test.  We should be looking at measuring growth for that additional child so that teachers are empowered to really help that child…one of the issues in terms of tests and opting out is the fact that what we would hope is our education system would be equal and equitable and high quality so that no one would want to opt out.”

So in the meantime, we keep the crappy test that will lead to stealth tests in a personalized learning/competency-based education arena.  And this growth she wants us to measure?  What does she think the feds and the Delaware DOE measure that growth by?  The standardized test.  Hello!  And equal and equitable aren’t the same thing.  High quality based on what?  Common Core and SBAC?  Or do you have a better idea that we haven’t heard.  The other candidates recommended bringing this back to the local level.  I didn’t hear that from you tonight.

They did ask one of my questions about restoring FERPA to pre-2008 levels.  In 2008 and 2011, the US DOE had FERPA changed which allowed student data to go out to third-party companies, sometimes without any parental consent for the data collecting procedures to begin with.  Once again, Gesty and Reigle nailed it and said they would support those changes.  Blunt-Rochester (if she even knows what FERPA is), talked about HIPAA and cell phone tracking apps.  Her response to changing FERPA?

“I would want to know more about why that exchange happens.”

Uhm, it happens so private student information can go out to companies and massive troves of data are collected on our kids.  That was the whole point of the question.  Gesty and Reigle got it.  Not sure why you can’t.  Blunt-Rochester talked about her time as the Delaware Secretary of Labor and constituents complained about filling out multiple forms to different state agencies.  She did say privacy is a concern, but she missed the point of the question.  There is a BIG difference.

She is well aware I blasted her in August for calling opt out a “leisure for some parents” at a Congressional debate in Wilmington.  Afterwards, I asked her point blank on her Facebook page if she supports a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment.  She said nothing.  Didn’t respond.  And I’ve seen her a few times since (along with John Carney), and they treat me as if I were a ghost.  You can think it is okay to be completely rude and not respond if I smile at you or say hi, but don’t think for one minute that I’m not hip to the Rodel influence on both of you.  I have no doubt I will be writing more about both of them the next four years, and it won’t be pleasant at this rate.  My take when this happens: you are drinking someone else’s Kool-Aid and really don’t know enough about the issue.  You are told what to say and what not to say.  And I’m sure one of the cardinal rules is don’t engage with the blogger.  Which just makes me jump all over you.  Funny how that works out.  Some may say I attack first and ask questions later.  I will own that.  But as most who bother to take the time to actually talk to me know, I am willing to listen.  I may not agree, but if you treat me like a leper, you reap what you sow.  I’m not in it this for politicians or administrators or for whatever state association you have.  I’m in this for the kids.  For my own son.  And for this entire generation of students who have been subjected to pure and utter crap from adults who should REALLY know better than to think it is okay to profit off kids.

I will say I endorsed Scott Gesty for Congress last month.  Ideologically, we agree on many issues.  With that being said, if he wasn’t in the race, I would support Hans Reigle.  Blunt-Rochester is just spend, spend, spend, and economy this and economy that with the same script we’ve read for the past eight years under Governor Rodel, er, uhm, Markell.  And Carney is the same thing.  Enough.  I can say Blunt-Rochester will not be getting a vote from my household as my wife supports Hans.  We are a divided household, what can I say.  I am a firm believer you get what you vote for.  And the way this state votes “blue or die”, we will get the same.  And all those who preach doom and gloom every single political season, those of the same party who can’t stand each other but will support their peer because of a political label, they will be the first ones complaining over the next four years and public education will continue to go down a dark path as we try to spend our way to prosperity.  Many see me as a Democrat, while others see me as a Republican or Libertarian.  I’m just a dad.  Concerned about my son’s future as a citizen of Delaware and America.  I see between the lines of all the crap being slung at us.  The lies, the manipulation, the fraud.  It is not red or blue or any other party.  It’s greed, pure and simple.  People who are so used to hanging out with people who are, at heart, glorified salespeople, who promise great things as they spin their shit into gold.

I can’t support Hillary or Donald either for those same reasons.  Hillary is the godmother of corporate education reform.  Trump is just Trump, all bark and no bite.  But when he gets impeached (which I can easily see happening), we will be left with Mike Pence who is a big corporate education reform kind of guy.  So either way we are screwed.  I think Hillary’s plans are exactly what we see happening in education.  Don’t be fooled by her.  She will stab all students, teachers, and parents in the back.  And her minions in each state, including Delaware, will make damn sure it happens at the state level.  The wheels are already in motion.  We call this the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Don’t think for one minute she isn’t banking on winning and has been planning accordingly.  And just in case, we have Mike Pence waiting in the wings.  And Delaware will automatically cave if we keep the current power structure and say “Yes, we have to do this.”  And the cycle goes on and on and on…

As for Lisa Blunt-Rochester and her need to have us find “common ground” as she put it tonight, we will never find that common ground until some candidates and existing legislators don’t return to the ground.  I don’t vote on smiles.  I vote on words.  And the words I was looking for tonight did come out.  Just not from you.

 

 

School-Based Health Centers Proposal May Collide With Parental Authority… This Is A Game Changer In Schools!

I’ve heard constant echoes of one thing over the past year: we need more supports in our schools for our high-needs students.  But what happens when that call is heard but we may get far more than we ever bargained for?  What if the services provided become very invasive in scope?

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) put out a request for proposal (RFP) for all nineteen school districts in Delaware and the thirty-two high schools within them.  The goal of the vendor contracts would be to increase the role of wellness centers in schools.  The funding was already put in place in the FY2017 budget.  A few high schools wouldn’t begin these kind of contracts until FY2018 because they didn’t already have existing wellness centers in the schools.

I have grave concerns with how much DHSS wants to happen in our high schools.  I understand why the bid for this is coming out of DHSS, but this is an education matter.  I fully understand that some students may not have access to medical treatment so I am not explicitly against these types of centers in high-needs schools.  But the amount of private student data involved is astounding.  Under HIPAA, that is merely a consent for information to go out from a health provider to another entity.  Parents need to understand exactly what they are signing consent for.  Where this gets confusing is the differentiation between HIPAA and FERPA.  FERPA only applies to educational records.  The data from these health centers in our high schools would not fall under FERPA.  Or at least they shouldn’t.

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There are several terms in the above picture that worry me.  “Prevention-oriented multidisciplinary health care”… I’m all for prevention, but prevention against what?  Where is the line drawn?  What if one of these multidisciplinary measures goes against a student’s religion?  What if the student is not aware of that but a parent becomes upset when they find out?  “Integration with primary care”… what does that even mean?  Integration would mean a data system cross-referencing the health information between a primary physician and the school-based health provider.  Does that information flow both ways?  Serious data privacy concerns here folks!

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“The delivery of medical and mental health services”… If a student needs immediate treatment, is a school even equipped to act as a triage type unit?  Is that the eventual goal here?  In terms of mental health services, I have long thought it was a good idea for school districts to have psychiatrists or neurologists on hand for IEP meetings.  All too often, psychologists are used to determine “behavior” issues but a psychiatrist or neurologist would be able to give more explanation of what is going on neurologically when a student manifests disabilities.  A psychologist can’t prescribe medicine and as a result, they may not have up to date knowledge of what different medicines do and how they metabolize with the human body.

Students come into our schools with trauma.  Of that, no one seems to be in disagreement.  If families aren’t able to provide students with safe and supportive environments at home, then the school setting would be ideal for students to get the help they need to deal with those issues.  But my concern is this becoming available for ALL students eventually.  All too often parents are denied health information about their child on certain things when it comes to the existing wellness centers.  With this program increasing in scope like this, I can picture that becoming a much bigger issue.

In private practices, these types of services are not cheap.  But that is where the best in their fields tend to go.  With this plan, how many would leave existing private practices to come work in schools?  Not too many I am afraid.  As a result, we would most likely get younger, fresh out of college mental health providers without the experience.  They would get paid less and as a result an inequity would develop between students who come from stable and wealthier home environments and those who come from low-income or poverty families.  Those who come from the stable homes would most likely continue to go to private practices.

DPH is the Division of Public Health.  They would provide partial funding for this project.  But what happens when the project becomes mainstream?  All too often, our school districts become the financial bearer of state mandated programs.  Yes, the funding exists now, but what happens when it isn’t available?  Do they cut these programs out of schools entirely or do local school districts bear the financial burden for paying for these programs?

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My first question: what is the School-Community Health of Michigan entity that appears to house school-based health information?  How secure is this data?  If one of the vendors chooses to implement the two years to develop their plan for data reporting, how safe is that data in the meantime?  Should all student risk assessments be standardized?  I would think students with disabilities, those coming from broken homes, or those dealing with poverty would tend to fall lower on a standardized scale as opposed to their peers.

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I don’t mind a culture of health.  Lord knows we can be healthier in this country.  But when I see “How youth and parents would be involved in the “planning, operation, and promotion of the SBHC,” that seems like a lot of emphasis put on parents.  If these services are for high-needs students whose parents aren’t big on family engagement, this would result in parents of regular students doing the pushing for these programs.  Will they want to do that if it isn’t for their own child?  “Potential partners and key stakeholders”… as defined by who?  And as we all know, data flows to “partners” quite a bit with education records.  Would parents be given consent forms to send their child’s medical data to entities who really don’t need that information at all?  It mentions HIPAA here, but this is a very slippery slope.  I need a lot more information here.  What is a “diversified funding base”?  Since, invariably, all of this would be paid for by the taxpayers of Delaware, will they really want to pay for other students health services?  We already do, to some extent, but this would increase those costs.

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I’m sorry, but did that really say “if the SBHC intends to be a Title X/family planning provider”?  For those who may not be familiar with Title X, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes this program on their website:

Family planning centers offer a broad range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods and related counseling; as well as breast and cervical cancer screening; pregnancy testing and counseling; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs); HIV testing; and other patient education and referrals.

I hate to even bring this up, but if this could in any way lead to abortions being provided in schools that would cause a nuclear war between parents and schools.  No matter what your views on abortion might be, I would tend to think the school would be the last place anything like that should happen.  For that matter, the various “screenings” allowed under Title X could lead to serious contention as well.  For the “5 performance measures for the basis of evaluation”, based on federal guidance I imagine, does that mean every single school-based health center would be required to perform these five measures?  Chlamydia testing can be done by urine samples for both males and females, but sometimes they are performed for females as vaginal swabs.  I would hope that isn’t the method being proposed in this contract.  With all seriousness, I do know chlamydia is a very serious sexually transmitted disease and among the most common.  I don’t know if school-based health centers currently screen or test for chlamydia.  If anyone has information on this, please let me know.  I reached out to a few people who were shocked this would be included in this.

Once again, my biggest concerns with all this surround student data.  This goes way beyond my concerns with existing student data.  Parents should seek answers for this.  I know I will be!  Please read the entire RFP, seen below.  I need to know your thoughts on this.  This is very big and I don’t feel Delaware citizens are even aware of this going on without our knowledge.  The transparency on something of this scope has obviously not been present.  Please share this with everyone you know in Delaware.  Get feedback from your friends or those in the medial profession.  Is this too much?  I have seen a lot of “futurist” lingo talking about how our schools will become “community schools” in the truest sense of the word based on things like this coming to fruition.  Does the term “the whole child” include aspects that will eventually take authority away from parents when it comes to their children’s health?  How much will parents be able to opt out of these programs?

Letter Sent To Legislators About Day Treatment Centers Raises Concern About Student Data Privacy

The News Journal article on what would have amounted to closure of Delaware day treatment centers until the State of Delaware reversed course mentions an email sent to legislators about the situation.  But the article by News Journal reporter James Fisher only touched on part of the email.  I want to give credit to Fisher for what was undoubtedly a confusing day with so much changing on this story.  Several legislators forwarded this email to me and I feel it is something the public deserves to see.  What concerns me are some of the new treatments that will be provided in schools.  These may not be covered under the HIPAA law for medical privacy if they take place in an educational setting.  I haven’t done enough research (yet) to determine how effective these treatments are for patients, but what are they taking the place of?  Is this a question of Medicaid funding and federal mandate or what is best for the outcomes of the children and teenagers in getting the best care possible?

Before I get to the email sent to the legislators, the News Journal corrected the article since the original one from noon today.  In the original, it cited a representative from Indian River School District who stated all Delaware Superintendents received an email on August 26th notifying them of the upcoming Medicaid changes with day treatment centers.  They took out that part, verified they (James Fisher) saw the email, but added this in:

“I’m not aware of any other place for them to go at this point,” said Bruce Kelsey, executive director of Delaware Guidance Services, which serves 24 children at a time in Kent and Sussex counties, in an interview hours before DSCYF sent the legislator letter.

His organization, he said, was preparing to have to re-assign or lay off employees who worked in day treatment.

“It’s heartbreaking, of course. It’s very tough. It’s been a good program,” Kelsey said.

Then on Thursday, Kelsey said he’d been notified that DGS’s funding for the program — making up about one-twelfth of the DGS budget — would not end in November after all.

Dawn Thompson, a spokeswoman for the department, said early Thursday afternoon the department had not made any decision to cut off program funding for day treatment. When Medicaid’s support of the programs ended in July, she said, the department made up the difference with state funds.

“We’re not reversing. No decision had been made to stop anything,” Thompson said.

Asked why Delaware Guidance Services believed the funding for its day treatment program was due to expire, Thompson said: “That must have been a misinterpretation.”

Later on Thursday, Thompson provided an Aug. 26 email from the department to school districts saying, in part: “Day treatment as previously structured will not be provided after December 2016.”

Clarifying her earlier comments, she said: “I do not believe I had been made aware of a communication to service providers detailing an end date.”

Confusion abounds!

This is the entire email sent to the legislators last night which matches verbatim for the part that was cited in the News Journal article today.

Dear Legislators,

There has been concern expressed about the future of day treatment for children in Delaware, and I’d like to give you some information that may be helpful to you and your constituents.  Over the next few months, we will be offering opportunities for people to come together to discuss how we can best serve the children and families in our state. We want feedback and ideas from all our various stakeholders including families, educators, providers, and community partners.

In the meantime, PBH will continue to offer mental health services, including day treatment if appropriate, to children and youth who receive Medicaid benefits or are uninsured.  Also, PBH will continue to offer services ranging in level of intensity from traditional outpatient services through in-patient hospitalization.  Every treatment option currently available to children and families will remain an option going forward until the stakeholders have been engaged and the system is ready for a transition.  As before, treatment will be individualized, flexible, and adapted to meet the needs of the child and family.

By way of background, I’d like to tell you about what we’ve done to enhance community and family based services for our children and families.  These types of services are provided to our clients without causing a disruption to their already established community connections such as school or sports teams.   The new services are supported by research and have been effective with children, youth and families across the country and in contiguous states. As we speak to stakeholders in the coming months, we will be focusing and seeking feedback on the benefits of these new services.  In particular, we would like to discuss whether the treatment available through these programs is more likely to result in better outcomes for children and their families than some existing options, including day treatment programs.

The community based treatment options are things like Multisystemic Therapy (MST), which is a home-based intensive family and community-based treatment that addresses multiple aspects of serious conduct related behavior in adolescents. MST typically targets chronic, aggressive youth who are at high risk of out-of-home placement.

Another new option is Functional Family Therapy (FFT).  FFT is a short-term, family-focused, community-based treatment for youth who are either “at risk” for, or who manifest, antisocial behavioral problems such as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, violent acting-out and substance abuse disorders.

A third type of service added to our continuum is one called Family Based Mental Health Services.  These are designed to serve children between 3 and 17 years of age and their families (parents, guardians, caretakers and siblings). These children have a serious mental illness or emotional disturbance, are at risk for out-of-home placement into residential treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals or other settings. The focus of treatment is on the child and family system. Family Based Mental Health Services treat these children and adolescents in their homes, communities and schools thus allowing the youth to remain in the home.  Services are available 24 hours per day and 7 days a week via on call therapist and include crisis intervention as a part of the service.

These are just three of the services that will soon be available to clients in all three counties.  Additionally, the families will also be able to benefit from various therapeutic supports which can be available in the home and school in conjunction with other medically necessary treatment services.

We would be happy to speak with you or your constituents regarding our enhanced range of services, and our approach to care management.   Our commitment continues to be to the children, youth and families of our state.

Please feel free to contact PBH Director Susan Cycyk at susan.cycyk@state.de.us or contact her office at 302-633-2600.  She will be happy to share updated information as it becomes available as well as information regarding our other school-based programs including the elementary school Family Crisis Therapists and the middle school Behavioral Health Consultants.

Sincerely,

Steve 

Steven E. Yeatman

Chief Policy Advisor

Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families

1825 Faulkland Road

Wilmington, DE 19805

SLC N300

steven.yeatman@state.de.us

Office – (302) 633-2505

Editor’s note: The email did contain the cell phone of the PBH Director but I took that out for her privacy as that was given to legislators.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services clearly states what is covered under HIPAA and what is under FERPA in the following information from their website:

The school is not a HIPAA covered entity.  The HIPAA Privacy Rule only applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that transmit health information electronically in connection with certain administrative and financial transactions (“covered transactions”). See 45 CFR § 160.102.  Covered transactions are those for which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has adopted a standard, such as health care claims submitted to a health plan.  See the definition of “transaction” at 45 CFR § 160.103 and 45 CFR Part 162, Subparts K–R.  Thus, even though a school employs school nurses, physicians, psychologists, or other health care providers, the school is not generally a HIPAA covered entity because the providers do not engage in any of the covered transactions, such as billing a health plan electronically for their services.  It is expected that most elementary and secondary schools fall into this category.

The school is a HIPAA covered entity but does not have “protected health information.”  Where a school does employ a health care provider that conducts one or more covered transactions electronically, such as electronically transmitting health care claims to a health plan for payment, the school is a HIPAA covered entity and must comply with the HIPAA Transactions and Code Sets and Identifier Rules with respect to such transactions.  However, even in this case, many schools would not be required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule because the school maintains health information only in student health records that are “education records” under FERPA and, thus, not “protected health information” under HIPAA.  Because student health information in education records is protected by FERPA, the HIPAA Privacy Rule excludes such information from its coverage.  See the exception at paragraph (2)(i) to the definition of “protected health information” in the HIPAA Privacy Rule at 45 CFR § 160.103.  For example, if a public high school employs a health care provider that bills Medicaid electronically for services provided to a student under the IDEA, the school is a HIPAA covered entity and would be subject to the HIPAA requirements concerning transactions.  However, if the school’s provider maintains health information only in what are education records under FERPA, the school is not required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.  Rather, the school would have to comply with FERPA’s privacy requirements with respect to its education records, including the requirement to obtain parental consent (34 CFR § 99.30) in order to disclose to Medicaid billing information about a service provided to a student.

In 2011, FERPA was changed to allow student information to go out to the following according to the final regulations from the U.S. DOE:

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

Shortly after the 2011 changes to FERPA, the blog Utahns Against Common Core asked the following:

Why would the federal government want to track genetic and medical information coupled with educational information in a cradle to grave longitudinal database (which Utah has implemented)? Why is the Gates Foundation funding biometric tracking? Why is the Gates Foundation co-hosting the London International Eugenics Conference with Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) next month? Why would the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius (responsible for the FERPA changes listed above) be offering $75 million in grants for schools to open health clinics inside their schools away from parental oversight? Why did the Gates Foundation sign a 2004 agreement with UNESCO (U.N. Education arm) to create a global education system and then pay nearly $20 million to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization to prompt them to create Common Core?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the federal government is in the business of control and not education. Why aren’t Utah leaders moving to protect Utahn’s from these overreaches of the federal government? Schools will become the ultimate laboratories in fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s dream for creating central planning for the American workforce.

Why indeed… Do I trust these therapies for students coming into schools?  I don’t know.  They could very well be very good therapies.  What I don’t trust is how the data from these school-based services could filter out.  This would be very personal medical information.  I don’t trust anything involved with the complete redesign of education by folks like the Gates Foundation.  Control is slipping away at a very fast pace without the ability of the public to have advanced knowledge of all these steps taking place over the past five to six years.  They will gather “public input” on all these changes when they should have done that in the first place.

Whether Delaware intended this in the first place is not known, but given all the information and research I have seen, I can only guess that this was the intention.  At the very least, there are far too many state agencies involved in this situation with the day treatment centers: DOE, DHSS, DSCYF, and lord knows who else.  But it almost seems as if they create a scenario, like this one, where they know parents will openly revolt about changes to the mental health system in the state, react by creating a “public comment” period, and wind up implementing new policies and legislation based on what they want.  I’ve seen this in the Department of Education too many times to count, and it looks like our Department of Health and Social Services is doing this.  Or maybe they always have and I just wasn’t paying attention.

I’ve written about private information getting out into the hands of outside companies before.  I wrote at length, ironically enough, about the Medicaid Reimbursement program and a company called Public Consulting Group (PCG).  This was in regards to the reimbursements the state gets for providers like Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, or Psychologists to name a few when they provide special education services in schools.  I wrote the article on PCG and the Delaware DOE over two years ago.  PCG is still the vendor for the state Medicaid reimbursement program as well as other contracts with the Delaware DOE, including the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities Strategic Plan.

With today’s plethora of education think-tanks, non-profits and for-profit education companies, this opens a goldmine of student information that is allowed to go out.  While this information does not contain personally identifiable information and is based on a students state-assigned identification number, that research can go back to the State DOE who could easily create a birth to 21 tracking system for students.  Parents need to wake up and demand FERPA is restored to its pre-2011 levels before any chance of protecting their kids personal information is gone forever.

Another education blogger, Gadfly On The Wall, wrote an excellent article earlier today aptly titled “The Child Predator We Invite Into Our Schools” with great detail about the upcoming changes in education and the student data mining portion of what is going on.  I don’t see what he talks about and what I’m talking about as two different things.  They are pieces of a huge violation of privacy rights going on in our schools.  Wake up parents, wake up…

ESSA: Parents & Educators MUST Attend The Upcoming Meetings & Educate Themselves On The Law!

The Delaware Dept. of Education will have three more Every Student Succeeds Act Community Engagement meetings in the next week.  They held a meeting in Georgetown on Tuesday.  The next three meetings will take place in Wilmington, Middletown, and Dover.  The DOE is “requiring” participants to register through a company called Event Brite.  Links to register can be found here.

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I will stress with all the urgency I can muster that ALL public education parents attend these meetings.  Before you go, I would familiarize yourself with the federal law.  You can read the full text of the law here.  It is a very long law with a lot of repeated jargon and “legalese” in it.  The Delaware State Board of Education and Delaware DOE has put up many links to it on their websites, but a lot of that is open to interpretation.  As well, U.S. Secretary of Education John King has issued “proposed rulemaking” which are potential regulations.  These regulations are VERY controversial.  You can read those regulations here and here.

These are my major concerns with ESSA:

By allowing states to have more flexibility, many states have already created long-term plans based on the prior federal mandates.  Far too many in our state DOEs follow what the corporate education reformers want and give a false illusion of “stakeholder input”.

The Delaware DOE has given NO indication whatsoever that they will even consider changing the state standards away from Common Core even though they can certainly do this according to ESSA.  The US Secretary of Education isn’t required to approve these standards.  The states merely have to give an assurance that their standards will follow the law.

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Student data still isn’t protected to parents satisfaction.  To stop this data from going out, they need to restore the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) to pre-2011 levels

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Bouncing off the previous statement, by allowing more social service and health-based practitioners into our schools, there is a serious question regarding what applies to FERPA and what applies to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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John King’s regulations would keep the 95% participation rates for state assessments with consequences for schools and districts.

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John King’s Title I regulations would enact a “supplement not supplant” these funds.  This is in sharp contrast with federal law and he was called out on this the other day by the US House Education and Workforce Committee.

There is far too much talk of competency-based education through computer adaptive assessments.  That is just lingo for personalized learning.  This law would allow for classrooms to become online all the time.  There are severe dangers with this in regards to the downgrading of the teacher profession, far too much screen time for students, and the quality of the educational material.  As well as severe data privacy concerns.  In fact, there are incentives for schools to adopt personalized learning.

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While the law forbids the US DOE from forcing or coercing states to implement any state standards, like Common Core, many states already have these in place and spent years embedding them into every facet of public education.

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The law calls for state accountability “report cards”, based on performance of the state assessment, but the tests are not required to be exactly the same for all students.  So the state assessments are not a true measurement since they will be different for each test-taker.  Delaware set up their report card last year under the name of the “Delaware School Success Framework” but they inserted a very punitive participation rate penalty if a school dips below the 95% participation rate which can’t use parent opt-out in those calculations according to the law.

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State assessments will not be required to have questions at the appropriate grade level for students.

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ESSA requires any plan to be submitted to the State DOE, State Board of Education, the Governor and the state legislature.  To date, the Delaware DOE has not had “meaningful” consultation with the Delaware General Assembly about ESSA.

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The law specifically states that all choice schools should have priority given to the lowest-achieving students, but Delaware allows for charter schools to have enrollment preferences that allow for higher-achieving students to have distinct advantages, especially in our magnet schools and charter schools like Charter School of Wilmington.

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I have many other concerns with ESSA, but these ones stand out for me.  I am coming at this from the perspective of a parent.  I know educators have concerns over some of this as well.

A Conversation With Diane Ravitch & Clarification On Opt Out

Since myself and several other education bloggers came out with articles yesterday pushing for parents to opt out of more than just standardized assessments, we are being questioned by several in the fight against corporate education reform and the privatization of public schools.  Many of us found that social media groups where we regularly post articles were censoring us by not posting our articles.  This led to some anger and hostility.  Some felt we were undermining their own group goals with opt out.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Those of us who posted yesterday have been sounding the alarm about the ed tech invasion taking place in our schools even before the Every Student Succeeds Act bill was fully seen by everyone.  We believe the once a year assessments will be replaced by constant “stealth” assessments in a competency-based education set up by a constant digital learning environment.  We also believe that the ability to opt out will not be so easy when this happens.  Which is why we want to stop this from happening in the first place.  Sometimes you have to draw people into a conversation.  This was our attempt and it appears it is working.

As part of my article yesterday, I wrote about Diane Ravitch’s role in all this and how some felt she wasn’t speaking loud enough about these issues.  Last night into this morning, I had a very long exchange with Diane on her blog about this.  I want to share this conversation so that some who were misled about the intentions of my article understand where it was coming from.  It began with a comment from someone called “Digital Skeptic” (which is not me nor do I know who it is).  There is one part of the conversation that is bolded for emphasis as I feel it was the most important part of it.  The full story behind where all this came from and where the actual exchange took place can be seen here: BIG NEWS! DISCOVERY! One (1) Funder That Supports Public Schools!

Digital Skeptic, 9/14/16, 10:43am:

Well, you need to get up to speed on digital badging and learning eco-systems ASAP then. Maybe set up a google alert for “personalized learning?” That would give you a lot of material to start with. Also Knowledgeworks is one of the main promoters of this new way of looking at “education.”

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/15/16, 6:43pm:

Why is Diane refusing to answer questions about digital badging? She addresses everyone else but won’t answer this question. I don’t get it.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 9:50pm:

Kevin, I don’t understand your hayloft. I have written many posts opposing data mining, data tracking, Gates-funded galvanic skin monitors. I oppose any digital monitoring, tracking, badging or spying on children.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 9:56pm:

Kevin, I was driving from Brooklyn to Southold. Traffic was heavy. It took four hours. That’s why my response to you was delayed. Other than not commenting on digital badges, which I never heard of, what else have I not written about?

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/15/16, 10:13pm:

Many of us are finding out about big things going on with Competency-Based Education tied to digital learning and personalized learning. Some of us have been writing about this since last year. A lot of us got involved when ESSA came out. We have tracked companies and documents and found more than sufficient evidence that leads to the death of brick and mortar schools and teachers being eliminated. I think it concerns many that you aren’t aware of this. People look to you as the go-to person on this kind of thing. When there is silence on the issue, it is concerning. The fact you haven’t heard about digital badges is even more concerning. To some, and I will throw my name out there, it feels like you pick and choose what to write about. That is certainly your right. I don’t know how much you read other blogs or engage on social media. There isn’t enough time in the day to read everything. Our fear is that Hillary will be a HUGE supporter of all this when it goes down. It is already taking place in pilot districts across the country. This is the next battle. ESSA is complex but embedded in it are easter eggs for the corporations that are going to continue to data-mine students. The career pathway programs being set up by the Feds is also not a safe thing. When you combine all this, it is a frightening future. I think it caught many by surprise with your post about that foundation you wrote about yesterday. The fact you didn’t name them, but when people looked into them a relation of yours appeared. It was a culmination of events that have been building up. I am begging you… you have a very wide audience… please start to write about this stuff.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 10:25pm:

Kevin, send me articles and I will post them. I am 78 years old. I spend 6-8 hours daily reading and blogging. Most of what I post comes from things that people call to my attention, either on my email, the comments on the blog, or Twitter. There have been nearly 400,000 comments on the blog. I have read all of them.  If you want me to write about digital badges, write a piece and send it to me.

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/15/16, 10:26pm:

Thank you, I appreciate that.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 10:34pm:

Kevin, If you disagree with something I post or think I should post something different, write me. You don’t have to attack me to get my attention.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 10:34pm:

My son invests in many businesses, his specialty is sports and media. If you want to buy or sell a sports team, he’s the go-to guy. He is not a hedge fund manager. He doesn’t play the stock market. He invests in new companies that he believes in them. I don’t know what he invests in but I have his promise that he will not invest in anything that promotes or supports or builds charter schools. He doesn’t tell me what his companies he invests in, and frankly I don’t give a damn. A mention in my blog does not help or hurt a company. If it did, Pearson would be bankrupt.

One more thing: Ari Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, has a partner of my son. This has zero influence on me. I have never said a good word about Rahm. When I met him in 2010, he was rude, condescending, and offensive. I have never forgotten or forgiven. Karen Lewis is one of my heroes, and I have condemned Rahm’s destruction of public schools in Chicago.

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/15/16: 11:01pm:

Diane, I totally agree with you on the investments in charters being a very bad thing. But there are inherent dangers when firms like Raine invest in companies that will immensely benefit Pearsson and other ed tech companies. The charters are just one part of the whole equation. When I talk about digital badges, these are badges students will “earn” in the future based on curriculum provided by ed tech companies. It won’t be about what happens in the classroom because they will be digital classrooms where the teachers I fight for every day will become nothing more than a glorified moderator to ed tech developed and created by companies.

In 2011, the Family Educational Privacy Rights Act changed. It allowed student data to go out to education “research” companies. I firmly believe, as do many others, this was intentional. It allows student identifiable information to go from schools to state DOEs to outside companies. It is a complete invasion of private information that should stay in public schools. Students shouldn’t be judged like this. They are creative and wonderful children, not guinea pigs for companies to make a profit off of. 

We need to get FERPA restored to what it was before 2011. That will stop this and we need you to help us get people to understand what is going on out there. Our next President (God help us all if it is Trump) needs to do this. The plans are in place and time is running out for today’s kids as well as future generations of students.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 11:11pm:

Kevin, I strongly support the revision of FERPA to protect student privacy. Google my name and FERPA, and you will see that I wrote several posts condemning Duncan for weakening FERPA in 2011.

I am on the board of Leonie Haimson’s Class Size Matters, which sponsors Student Privacy Matters. Leonie and Rachel Strickland led the fight to kill Gates’ inBloom. It brought the issue of data mining to public attention. I supported their campaign to protect students. You criticize for not doing things that I did.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 11:19pm:

My son has read my books. He stays far away from the education sector. He invested in VICE, a youth-oriented media company that produces cutting-edge documentaries and has its own cable station, in connection with HBO. One of the companies he backs created South Park and The Book of Mormon. He introduced the NBA to China. He invested in the Yankees cable station. He financed a guy who was creating a free and independent news outlet in Afghanistan. I am very proud of him. He is a good man.

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/15/16, 11:21pm:

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t get involved in all of this “destruction of public education” until about 2 1/2 years ago when a charter denied my son an IEP and I started digging to find out what was going on in education. A lot of what you are talking about is “before my time” so to speak. I can’t change anything that happened before. And those things you did, they are huge! I apologize for not knowing your role in those events. I have a lot of respect for Leonie and Rachel and I engage with them regarding these matters quite a bit through an email group I belong to.

I’m not criticizing you for President Obama weakening FERPA, but with your legitimacy, saying how important it would be to undo that 2011 change to FERPA would add great weight to the fight for student data privacy. Our next president could repeal the 2011 change. Do you think Hillary would do that? I don’t know if you are in a position to ask her, but if so, is that something you could do?

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/15/16, 11:23pm:

Well if he got the Yankees cable station into being, he is an awesome person!

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 11:47pm:

I promise you I will fight to restore FERPA, to protect your children, my grandchildren, and every child.

Diane Ravitch, 9/15/16, 11:52pm:

Kevin, I hope you will reconsider your dismissal of the power of opt out. 20% of kids opted out in 2015, 21% in 2016. Lots of new kids added because the 8th grade moved on. Because of the opt out, Cuomo shut up about his plans to break public schools. The State Board of Regents has new progressive leadership. Opt out is powerful. The legislature is back pedaling. Suppose they gave a test and no one took it. No data. No data mining.

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/16/16, 12:23am:

I don’t dismiss the power of opt out at all. But opt out as we know it has to evolve. I spent a considerable amount of time in the first half of 2015 fighting for a bill in Delaware that passed overwhelmingly in our House and Senate. It codified a parent’s right to opt out. And also would have made sure our DOE and schools didn’t punish students. Our Governor vetoed the bill.

In the competency-based education arena, tests like SBAC and PARCC will change. The once a year test will be gone but will instead morph into mini-tests. Delivered online, but they will happen weekly, or bi-weekly, or at the end of each unit. Delaware put out an RFP for our new Social Studies state assessment that our Secretary of Education said will be delivered throughout the year. Make no mistake, these will be the same type of standardized tests parents are opting out of. But if they replace teacher created tests and student’s grades depend on them, it will make opt out very difficult.
Tom Vander Ark, who used to be an executive for Gates, and is now with Global Futures, told everyone about this here: http://gettingsmart.com/2015/05/the-end-of-the-big-test-moving-to-competency-based-policy/

This is happening now, in real-time, and it is only a matter of time before the “pilots” go national. I don’t want that for my son or any other child in this country. If it stayed the same as it is now, I would still be fighting the same fight. But ESSA will deliver this into our schools. Once that happens, what can a parent do? This is why I am so passionate about this stuff. Time is running out. ESSA calls for more pilot states for many things. My philosophy has always been the same, if it isn’t good for kids, I can’t support it. But when I see teachers fully embracing ed tech like it is the best thing since sliced bread, it is very worrisome.

Diane Ravitch: 9/16/16, 8:25am:

Kevin, I totally agree with you about the dangers of online assessment. I have written many posts criticizing online assessment. Among other things, they will be data mining students nonstop. The same parents who fought for opt out will fight against continuous online assessment. Saying opt out is dead demoralizes them and takes away the most powerful tool that parents have: the right to say no. The opt movement in New York has achieved incredible results. They will keep fighting against online assessment but they need support not negativity.

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/16/16, 9:04am: 

Diane, You keep talking about New York. I live in Delaware. While I think New York tends to set the pace for the rest of the country, followed closely by NJ, opt out is not as big in my state. The title of my article was “Opt Out As We Know It Is Dead”. Meaning it has become so much more than just opting out of assessments. Opt out is very powerful, but somewhere along the way the reformers learned how to take advantage of it. As opt out grew, so did the need for “reduced assessments”. What I found hysterical was that the state assessment, at least in my state, was not allowed to be on the table for change or elimination. It was talked about in meetings, but nothing came of it in the final report. I don’t underestimate the power of the parent voice at all. But I see so many parents who don’t seem to have a problem with the technology in classrooms. The biggest complaint from the opt out crowd in the beginning was too much assessment. And then certain civil rights groups (who get tons of funding from Gates et al) started speaking out against opt out. All I’m saying is parents need to use the tool they have and make it louder, much louder. To be very clear, I am NOT against opt out. We haven’t come this far to throw it all away now.

It was my idea to have multiple bloggers write about this topic yesterday. It was meant to draw attention to other issues going on besides just the state assessment. It is creating dialogue and conversation in the past 24 hours that many didn’t even know about. While I don’t think a “shock and awe” approach is always appropriate, in this situation I felt it was needed. Every single state will be submitting their ESSA plans in the next six months. A crucial part of that process will be what they hear from parents. By alerting parents to the dangers embedded in ESSA, it is my hope they will really look into what the entire law means, and not just the parts that the State DOEs and the reformers are choosing to show the public. The law was meant to give states more education power than the feds. But far too many states are aligned with what the feds have been doing. It will only solidify the power the reformers have. Sometimes you need to wake the sleeping giant.

Kevin Ohlandt, 9/16/16, 9:12am:

To illustrate what is going on with ed tech, I just got this email from Ed Week about ed tech in early education and a webinar next week. The assumption is already made that ed tech is a part of these environments. It is already there. They are trying to mitigate that by showing “hands on” approaches as well. I see more and more of this happening every day. Early education should be about many things, but I don’t think having ed tech for toddlers and pre-K students is the right way to go. These are developing brains getting flooded with screen time and things they may not neurologically be ready for. Event Registration

Digital Skeptic, 9/16/16, 10:09am:

“My son invests in many businesses, his specialty is sports and media.” Raine Group is also invested in Parchment, an online credentialing company. From your comments, it sounds like you talk about his business investments as they relate to education. I think it’s important that you follow up with him about that particular investment as it relates to digital badges and the changes that are coming under the new ESSA roll out. http://venturebeat.com/2014/03/19/credential-verification-startup-parchment-raises-10m/

Diane Ravitch, 9/16/16, 10:21am:

Skeptic, I don’t discuss my son’s investments with him. He told me he does not invest in companies related to charter schools. The company you mention stores graduation diplomas and makes them available. From what I read in the article you sent, if a person tells a hospital he has an MD, they can check if it is true. There are frauds, and I assume this service is a verification to prevent fraud. I saw nothing that suggests this company awards credentials. In any event, he doesn’t ask me what he should invest in, and I don’t tell him what to do.

Digital Skeptic, 9/16/16, 10:32am:

Actually, it is much more complicated than that. Arthur Levine, formerly President of Teachers College at Columbia University-now working with MIT and the Woodrow Wilson Institute on a Competency-Based Education Teacher Training Program, gave the keynote at the annual Parchment conference on “innovating academic credentials.” It’s a pretty fascinating talk, and in it Levine poses a pretty radical idea of calling for a “DSM for Achievement.” https://medium.com/learning-machine-blog/a-dsm-for-achievement-9e52fd881428#.1byckgdps

The push for standards-aligned workforce development by reformers goes from “cradle to gray” as they say. Through blockchain and other means (Kevin can talk about recent developments in Blockchain/Bitcoin legislation in DE), they are looking to break education down into these bits and pieces. People will accumulate them through “lifelong learning” as they call it. Which is a pretty unpleasant take on the concept. The goal is that there will be a seamless experience, no preschool, elementary school, middle, school, college, post-secondary, workforce certification—just badges and micro credentials that define you as a digital citizen.

“My son has read my books. He stays far away from the education sector.” I think once you look into what Parchment is really about, you will see how it is tied into the education sector. These are really new markets, once that the average person is not necessarily family with unless they enjoy delving into topics like block chain and learning eco-systems.

Diane Ravitch, 9/16/16, 10:48am:

Skeptic, I have no control over investment decisions by my son’s company. I don’t think he is a Pearson stockholder. Actually, I bought 10 shares so that my vote could be cast against present management. But you are wasting your time haranguing about Raine investments. I don’t know about them. My son doesn’t support me. His investments don’t affect my views.

This was where the conversation ended, but I certainly hope it continues.  It is far to important not to.  To point out one important thing: I am not Digital Skeptic nor do I know who it is.

This morning, the United Opt Out National group came out with the following position statement, in large part, I believe, as a reaction to the blog posts from yesterday:

“As the opt out movement grows, we grow – sometimes in different directions and sometimes together – as we adjust to policy changes that impact our schools.” United Opt Out National. Growth is necessary to ensure we continue to refuse to accept the privatization of our schools and communities.  As a form of resistance, opt out threatens those who seek to push their toxic brand of reform on public education.  And as the tactics change and evolve, opt out is needed more than ever.  

            Opt out is a type of civil disobedience. It is a form of protest where parents, students, and teachers refuse to submit to the perverted use of high stakes standardized testing. We never wanted permission to opt out.  We never asked for an opt out clause. We promoted opt out as a tool for stopping the corporate assault on public education. Opt out was to be the first domino that sends the rest falling down. If a whole class opts out then there is no need for test prep and if a whole school opts out then there is no need to use valued added measures (VAM) to evaluate teachers.  And one by one the dominoes fall as we get closer to tearing down the school reform house of cards.

            Since ESSA was passed, we at United Opt Out National have encouraged parents, students, and teachers to refuse indoctrination through digital learning. As we became aware of how the reformers would use ESSA to push through their new scheme we restructured our goals to include:

Push for protections for quality pedagogy, the teaching profession, and public school funding that the newly legislated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) attempts to tear down via the push toward isolationist computer based digital instruction that facilitates indoctrination, free for all data mining, and compromised cognitive, physical, and social development; the alternative teacher certification programs that place unqualified people in classrooms, and the unregulated charter industry that strips public schools of resources, increases segregation, and allows for theft of public money.

 Instead of only opting out of high stakes standardized tests, we have promoted opting out of all digital learning and assessments. In fact, given the documented negative effects of excessive screen time on children’s healthy development, our revised opt out letters must call for no screen time or a very limited amount each day (see sample letter below).  We must make it clear that no matter what legislation is passed or what new gimmicks they create; we will not be tricked into thinking that corporations have our best interest at heart.

            You see, those who seek to privatize education are always promoting choice. They promote charters because it gives parents choice. They support competency based education and personalized learning because it is tailored to the needs of children and gives them choices.  Well we support choice too. And opt out is a choice. A choice to just say no. No to the privatization schemes. No to turning education into a business. No to replacing teachers with computers. No to non-educators controlling education. As parents, students, and teachers we get to choose what type of education system we want. And when we opt out our choice becomes crystal clear.

In fact, we at United Opt Out National are working to broaden the opt out movement by hosting a Civil Rights Summit in Houston, Texas October 14-16. Our goal is to work with Houston AFT and civil rights groups who have historically misunderstood the opt out movement, to determine if we can build common ground around the harmful effects high stakes standardized testing is having on black and brown communities. Broadening opt out to be more inclusive of the needs of communities of color is another way we keep opt out alive and well and counter the myth that opt out is for white soccer moms. Opt out is about reclaiming our people power to fight back against what we know is wrong.  Opt out is only as strong as the people who use it. And the more we continue to resist the stronger we become.

I think we are all looking at the same book, but some of us appear to be on different chapters or pages within those chapters.  I agree with every single thing in United Opt Out’s statement.  Things have been very heated in the past few weeks.  It is more important that we talk with each other and reach out to each other.  We aren’t always going to agree, but our end goals are all the same: to get this horrible corporate invasion of public schools to come to an end once and for all.  Some feel that the discussion is the solution.  I don’t always agree with that.  I feel finding common ground or compromising only gives more power to the “other side”.  It is my contention they (the ed reformers and their legion of supporters in positions of power and commerce) put stuff out there knowing it will be sacrificed to make themselves look good.  But there are some who straddle between us (the rebellion) and the reformers (the empire).  There is value in swaying those groups, parents, and power figures to our side.  Some of us (like myself) take a very direct approach and the result isn’t seen as a soft touch.  Trust is a fragile thing in this environment.  I’m sure many groups and people who have been fighting this fight can attest to this.  This is what prompted the Diane Ravitch conversation.  I am taking Diane at her word that her son stays away from the education sector with the business he co-founded.  Even though others in the very same company are investing in ed tech, it is not my place to get involved with a son’s word to his mother.  I very much appreciate Diane engaging in this conversation.

 

Opt Out As We Know It Is Dead… Long Live The Badge

For years, I’ve been telling Delaware parents they should choose to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I was wrong.  Here is why…

We are entering a new era in education.  The promised era of digital personalized learning is here.  It is on the cusp of coming into every single public school in the country.  New national broadband laws are coming out of the woodwork to allow this.  We won’t need to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It will be gone soon.  They listened to us.  They heard us.  They will get rid of this test.  We gave them exactly what they wanted.  It was a trap. Continue reading

What’s So Bad About Educational Technology? Beware The Poverty Pimps!

Ed Tech.  It is everywhere.  Like the Vikings of yesteryear, it is invading every classroom in America.  It is pillaging the public education village.  For the Vikings, this was their way.  It was all they knew.  But for the Poverty Pimps, the companies who profit from students with the justification of fixing education for poor kids, it is disturbing on many levels.  If this technology is used in moderation and for the sole benefit of increasing the ability for students to learn, that would be one thing.  But companies are making billions of dollars off of our kids.  Even worse, the privacy of our children’s information is suspect at best.  One mom from Pennsylvania, Alison McDowell, has looked into all of this and she has found out a lot about what is going on with this aspect of the Ed Tech Boom.

A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Evaluating Digital Learning Programs

With the school year beginning, questions about digital learning programs and computerized behavior management programs have started to pop up in my feed. Is X program ok? How about Y? Concerned parents are scanning privacy policies and trying to figure it all out. What does this mean for MY child?

As someone who took a symbolic stand and opted her child out of Google Apps for Education last year (and she didn’t seem to come out any the worse for wear for it BTW), I’d like to share my current thinking on this topic. I am not a Luddite, but I am concerned that rather than being taught to use and control technology, many children (especially children in turn-around or transformation schools) are increasingly being put into the position of being used BY technology to further the interests of for-profit cyber instruction and workforce development. I’m sharing my thoughts in the hope of opening up a discussion and to see where other folks are in this brave new world.

For me the bottom line is this: Does the technology under consideration empower students to be the creators of the content? Is the power with THEM?

If the answer is “yes,” then it shouldn’t depend on tracking personalized data to function properly. Sure kids should be able to work on a project, save it, and go back to it, but online monitors shouldn’t be tracking all their data. Students own the work they do. It is their intellectual property. It should remain accessible and editable by them for the purposes of what the child and the teacher are doing in the CLASSROOM-that’s it. Storing student learning with PII (personally identifiable information) in the cloud for some unspecified future purpose concerns me.

Fortunately for our family, the above scenario is the norm at my daughter’s school. Mostly they use GAFE for open-ended word processing and there is a geometry program that allows students to render shapes. But THEY are doing the creating. The work is being done in THEIR brains. They are not consuming pre-determined content and having their micro-data tracked and aggregated.

If the sole purpose of the technology under consideration is to distribute content from an online learning management system based on prior data that a program has gleaned from a student interacting with the program, that is NOT an empowering educational experience.

Others may feel differently, but right now that is my framework for looking at this issue. That, and the fact that technology should not supplant funds for human teachers and there should be age-appropriate screen time limits during the school day.

What we need is more educational sovereignty and less educational surveillance.

In Delaware, personalized learning is pushed heavily by the Rodel Foundation with support from the Delaware business community.  Rodel, a non-profit company, has been pimping personalized learning and competency-based education for years.  I have extreme issues with the CEO of a non-profit being the highest paid education person in the state, with a reported earning of $343,000 as of 2014.  That is a lot more money than the highest paid state employee in education, Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick, who earned $217,000 as of last year.  Every state has similar “foundations” doing the same thing.

Delaware teachers are at a crossroads.  Do they embrace this technology knowing it could eventually lead to the end of their career as they know it, or do they resist it and fade into obscurity as districts and charter schools feel they aren’t supporting education?  The problem is the power  structure.  The teachers who are embracing this technology are regarded as education heroes in the press.  They are considered the “trailblazers” who will lead our children to “college and career readiness”.  They get the rewards and the accolades while teachers in high-poverty schools, who work just as hard without proper funding and resources in bloated classrooms, get labeled and shamed over the state assessment scores.

For parents, their rights to protect their child’s personal information have slowly been dismantled through federal regulations involving FERPA.  Outside contractors with state and local education agencies have certain allowances which allow them to see personal information.  The laws surrounding this are very vague and unclear.  On the surface, they look great.  But the loopholes embedded in these laws are the true tale.  For parents, opt out is no longer about the state assessment.  It is also about education technology.  But how does a parent opt their child out of entire curriculums that use computers and hand-held devices?  It’s not like schools can say “that’s fine, we will give your child a textbook.”

As the world slowly begins to embrace Blockchain technology, modeled after Bitcoin, serious questions are being asked about how this could transform the education landscape.  And what it means for our children.  Make no mistake, the initiatives and “ideas” are already in play and have been for years.  Blockchain is the end of the agendas.  It is the Rubicon of the plans that began in the early 1990s.  While these “futurists” didn’t foresee the exact mechanism of what is now Blockchain, they knew education would become a master and apprentice society, with earn to learn programs replacing the traditional classroom.  Common Core and the high-stakes testing were a means to this end.  We are hearing more and more talk about career pathways and early education.  The role of corporations in these areas is too large to ignore.  We are knee-deep in Education Incorporated, but we are about to be swallowed whole.

Last March, I created a Parent Bill of Rights for Education.  It began as a response to the Center for American Progress’ Testing Bill of Rights.  I found their platform to be insulting to the students, parents, and teachers of America.  Since then, things have changed.  I landed in Facebook jail when I posted this to the same groups I show my articles to.  With no explanation whatsoever from Facebook.  The idea took on a life of its own.  But I need your help.  Please look at it.  Come up with ideas on how to improve it.  Let’s make this a real thing and present it to Congress next year.  We must be able to exert parental control over what is best for our children before that control is stripped from us forever.  To this end, I have created a Parent Bill of Rights for Public Education group.  It will be a private group.  It will be by invitation only, which some may see as hypocritical on my end given my  rants about transparency.  But we don’t want the corporations getting their hooks into this.  This will be created by parents, for their children.  Not for profit or power and gain.  This is for our kids.  Because we love them better than any company ever will.

 

Student Data Privacy Presentation To Delaware P-20 Council

The Delaware P-20 Council received a presentation on student data privacy at their July 11th meeting.  You may be asking, what in the world is the P-20 Council?  Just another education council that helps to determine education policy and further cloud the issues.

The Delaware P-20 Council was established in 2003 by Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s Executive Order 47 and placed in statute in 2005. The Council is an inclusive organization designed to align Delaware’s education efforts across all grade levels. Its main goal is to establish a logical progression of learning from early childhood to post-secondary education while reducing the need for remediation. With cooperation from state leaders, higher education, school administrators, the business community, and parents, the P-20 Council will be able to open more doors for Delaware’s children and prepare them to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society who will continue to learn throughout their lives.

At this meeting, the council viewed a presentation on Student Data Privacy.  One was from Christian Wright with the Delaware Attorney General’s office and the other was from Amelia Vance with the National Association of State Boards of Education.  There are some very interesting tidbits in Vance’s presentation…

National Association of State Boards of Education Student Data Privacy Presentation

Delaware Student Data Privacy Laws

FOIA Bill Meant To Protect Delaware Passes Senate With Crucial Amendment

The Delaware Senate passed a bill dealing with the Freedom of Information Act on Wednesday but placed an amendment on the bill.  The amendment on Senate Bill 258 removes the terms “data dictionaries” and “file layouts”.  By including those terms in the potential law, it would essentially prevent parents from finding out what type of student information is going to outside companies from the Delaware Department of Education.  I wrote about this bill on May 19th in a very long article about student data privacy and technology in our schools.  I emailed the entire Senate at the same time.  As a result of my efforts, an amendment was attached to the bill removing the term “data dictionaries” and “file layouts”.

Sources informed me the state was receiving an abnormal amount of requests about the state IT infrastructure which caused much concern.  While it is not unusual to receive these requests, one source who requested anonymity stated, “It was an excessive amount of requests within a short period of time.  Red flags went up!”

By preventing parents from being able to find out this kind of information regarding student data, the bill could have violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  As part of FERPA, parents do have certain rights in asking for information about what records are released about their child.  I am glad the Delaware Senate Executive Committee took this step and listened to my concern.  I’m not sure if others expressed the same concern, but if they did, thank you!  A special thank you to the sponsor of this legislation, State Senator Brian Bushweller, who immediately responded to my thoughts on the matter and took action.

Google describes data dictionaries as the following:

a set of information describing the contents, format, and structure of a database and the relationship between its elements, used to control access to and manipulation of the database.

 

Delaware Public Schools: You Have Until Thursday To Get Rid Of Your Data Walls Or I Start Filing FERPA Complaints

I will be emailing all Delaware Superintendents, Heads of School, and the DOE on this tomorrow, but I wanted to put it out there now.  If any of you have ANY data walls with kid’s names on them or anything that could make a student easily identifiable by the peers in their class, you have until the end of the day on Thursday to get rid of them.  If you don’t, I will start filing FERPA complaints against each and every one of the schools that ignore this.  I don’t mean to play hard ball here, but you are violating the most sacrosanct part of education, the rights of the child.

I highly recommend ALL Delaware parents contact their schools and ask if they have these data walls in their child’s school.  I also suggest they ask the principal or assistant principal to make sure their child IS NOT ON IT.  I don’t care if you think your kid is the next Einstein.  It is wrong to do this.  I don’t care if it is the best charter school, magnet school, or regular school out there.  It is a violation.

DataWalls2

If you want to kill a child’s self-esteem, there is no easier way to do it than data walls.  This latest disgusting and sick craze of schools is an actual posting in school hallways or a classroom of a child’s progress.  Whoever thought this was a good idea is one sick individual.  I’m sure it is great for the smart kids who are always on top.  But for those who struggle it is a demeaning and humiliating experience.  For priority schools in Delaware, this is a requirement.  From the minds of those with no soul in the education reform world who don’t give a crap about children and their needs.  For students with disabilities, this is just the latest smack on their beaten faces.

DataWalls

This morning on Facebook, the current president of the Red Clay Education Association brought this up, as well as the growing in popularity E.R. Educators to the Rescue page.

ER wrote:

I call these “Data-shaming Walls”. I hate them (yes, hate) and here’s why you should too. In an age of anti-bullying, this is an in-your-face way of shaming low-performers and their parents. The only folks that like these are parents whose children are the green or advanced levels; everyone else feels like crap. If you see one in your child’s school, please ask the teacher/administrator to take them down.

The Washington Post thinks these are an abomination whereas the mighty Scholastic thinks they are the greatest thing since white bread.

Mike Matthews said:

My unfiltered definition of what a data wall is? It’s a tool used to shame and bully students into making them do better. Under the guise of competition, someone who’s in the “red” will just magically, one day, decide to change his or her performance to get into the “yellow” or “green.”

For some students this will work. Fine. But for others, like the many children with special needs I’ve taught over the years, this will not work and will continue to be a demotivator and could cause unnecessary emotional harm.

Last year at (x school) I had a young lady who came from the (y school). She was profoundly low. Many of the other students knew it, but we’re always very welcoming and supportive with her.

But what if I had one of these data walls? As the lowest-performing child in my class, what would this have done to her to see her name and picture “on the bottom?”

No. No data walls for me. In my classroom, I prefer regular conferencing with students to give them an update of where they are and where they need to be. This public shaming business has to end.

Don’t know what a data wall is? Thanks to E.R. Educators to the Rescue for posting this.

Other people (mostly teachers) had this to say about these pathetic data walls:

I’m shocked that student performance is publicly posted. That’s a clear violation of privacy. The only time I effectively used public posting of data is when I compared percentage passing the test to time studied by each student and found a strong correlation. Blew their minds that it actually mattered.
This is an epically bad idea on par with New Coke
I’m still floored that they posted PHOTOS! Now, the other students can properly identify and chide the lowest performers
Doesn’t this violate FERPA?
You’ve hit a nerve in every proper educator with this topic.
I would certainly think so. I don’t even put student’s names on the board. In the beginning of the year I give them each a number. We use the number instead of a name so that parents and other educators can’t see what going on and the students maintain their dignity. A data wall is exactly the opposite! We are taking a huge step backwards with this!
Yes, they are a violation!!! Would teachers want a similar wall based on their DPAS in the faculty room. Would admin want one based on theirs?
Definitely. If I’m not allowed to have a list viewable which tells of life threatening allergies, then I surely shouldn’t have a chart visible for students own data tracking. Does anyone remember the year that we had to discuss personal growth goals and then reward students who achieved their goals? And I teach kindergarten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My whole class got rewarded because I value them more than their data.
I wouldn’t do it. Suspend me for insubordination if you must, but I would not do it.
Basically posting students scores on a chart for all to see.
Bahahaha! This one comment: “How about posting each one of your paychecks or your weight? Seems only fitting the teacher share in this glorious display of data.”
So, we’re taking away creative play and limiting recess, adding more testing and less instruction, and then thinking this will lead to better test scores and kids caring about the boring, stressful testing moments of their days? Ugh. Education reform needs a reality check on the positive growth and development of children.
Horrible, terrible, miserable, anti-empathetic, anti-teacher-like behavior.
So there you have it folks.  Teachers hate these things.  They should fire whoever came up with this crap.  Seriously.  I’m guessing they don’t have kids or they had some horrible accident where all the feeling and emotion got sucked out of them.
Remember Delaware public schools…Thursday…the clock starts ticking NOW!

New Legislation Uses “Cyber Attack Threat” To Shield Delaware’s Student Data Mining Tactics

Delaware Governor Jack Markell sure is going out with a bang.  New legislation introduced a week ago in the Delaware Senate all but ensures any citizen requesting information on student data mining in Delaware will be met with a resounding no.  While the legislation mentions nothing about student data, it talks about the Delaware information technology system.  This bill would prevent a citizen from filing a FOIA request for the following:

Information technology (IT) infrastructure details, including but not limited to file layouts, data dictionaries, source code, logical and physical design of IT systems and interfaces, detailed hardware and software inventories, network architecture and schematics, vulnerability reports, and any other information that, if disclosed, could jeopardize the security or integrity of an information and technology system owned, operated or maintained by the State or any public body subject to the requirements of this Chapter.

SB258

On the surface, it looks like a great bill.  But the key words in this legislation are in the data dictionaries.  This defines how a system operates and what is included in it.  You can see one from the Delaware DOE below, from 2012:

The below are recommendations made to the Delaware DOE from Education Insight.  Some of the key words in this document pertain to exactly what is happening now, in current talk and pending legislation.  But the parties who come up with these ideas are trying to make it seem like this is brand new.  The jig is up.  This was planned a long time ago.

The four-year plan for DOE data systems as outlined in Race to the Top will result in a significant expansion in the amount of data available for use within the Department and for sharing with outside organizations. This expansion has implications for how data quality and data access will be managed in the future, and how DOE needs to be organized to meet this demand:

And the below document gives it all away:

Expansion of the warehouse to subject areas such as early childhood, higher education, workforce and social services will increase the need for more formal management of the data interchange process and increasing the demand for sharing of this data with owner organizations.

I have talked to quite a few tech people and none of them understand why “data dictionaries” would be included in this.  Especially when it comes to student data.  But this bill would exempt them from FOIA requests.  So what’s the big deal?  Who cares if your child’s data is tracked and catalogued?  If they aren’t doing anything wrong it should be no big deal, right?  Wrong.

DefiesMeasurement

Over a year ago, the documentary “Defies Measurement” showed parents the flaws of standardized testing. Back in February of this year, members of the Pennsylvania Parents Across America in Lower Merion Township began showing the documentary to other parents.  As a result, opt-outs in Pennsylvania grew bigger by the day. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered what was going on one weekend in February.  One teacher from New Jersey spoke about the threats and intimidation going on:

“They’re trying to use the fear and lack of information to coerce parents,” she said.

The documentary, clocking in at over an hour, is very informative. I encourage all Delaware parents, along with any parent in America who cares about education, to watch the entire thing.

In Delaware, parents opted their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment which began it’s second year of testing a week on March 9th.  Because Delaware agreed to replace Smarter Balanced with the SAT for high school juniors, it is expected opt-out numbers may be less than last year, but it is unknown how many parents opted their children out of the SAT this year.  There is one documented opt out from, of all schools, the Charter School of Wilmington according to a draft of their April 26th board meeting.  Meanwhile, many Delaware legislators played a high-stakes game of chicken in the Delaware House of Representatives.  They had an opportunity to override Governor Markell’s veto of Delaware’s opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, back in January.  Instead, they hung onto stagnant and outdated excuses by refusing to suspend rules to allow for a full House vote on the override. Even though the legislation does sit on the Ready List for a full house vote, Delaware Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf has given no indication he will put it on the agenda for a full House vote.

Last June, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 2655 which allowed parents to opt their child out of the state assessment.  The feds pitched a fit, but Brown heard what the people of Oregon were saying.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, their Senate passed their own opt-out legislation with a 39-9 vote.  Georgia Senate Bill 355 is also called the “Student/Teacher Protection Act”.  This is very similar to how the votes went down in Delaware last spring in our own Senate and House of Representatives.  Did Georgia Governor Nathan Deal sign the bill?  Not a chance.  He vetoed the bill on May 3rd.  Like Markell, he defied the will of the people and his own legislature to cater to corporate interests.  But of course he covers it up under the guise of, get this, making sure there is “local control”:

Veto Number 15

Senate Bill 355 allows federal, state and locally-mandated assessments to be optional for certain students. At present, local school districts have the flexibility to determine opt-out procedures for its students who cannot take the assessments in addition to those who choose not to take such assessments. As there is no need for state-level intervention in addition to the regulations already set in place on a local level, I VETO SB 355.

As organizations like the National PTA, the United Negro College Fund, and other Gates Foundation supported organizations come out with “position statements” against opt-out, parents are figuring things out on their own.  They are putting the pieces together and realizing how bad these tests really are.  What many don’t realize is the data mining that is happening right under our very noses. With these computer-adaptive tests, as well as all the personalized or blended learning modules students log into, there are embedded data mining algorithms involved.  These algorithms are sent to a joint system owned by the United States Department of Education and the Department of Defense.

Back in 2011, the US DOE and US DOD partnered together to create the Federal Learning Registry.  This joint system purported to be a massive sharing mechanism so anyone involved in education could contribute and access.  In an article from Local Journal in November, 2011, it describes the Federal Learning Registry  as being designed specifically “so that both commercial and public sector partners could freely take part.”

Even Education Week got in on the upcoming data mining explosion that was about to take place in education:

Predictive analytics include an array of statistical methods, such as data mining and modeling, used to identify the factors that predict the likelihood of a specific result.

It is hard for any federal agency to work with another.  So why this unprecedented partnership between US DOE and US DOD?  Technology has certainly advanced to this point where collaboration can save taxpayers a lot of money.  But in looking at the University of Southern California’s report on potential funding opportunities with the Department of Defense, there are some very distrubing ideas presented.  One of these is something called the Minerva Initiative:

Human Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling (HSCB)
http://minerva.dtic.mil/
In addition to Service core HSCB programs, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) funds S&T programs to address understanding and modeling of human behavior in social and cultural contexts. The basic research component is entitled the Minerva Initiative (see MAPS DOD Chart 128); it is presently administered by ONR.

Another one of these budget items shows where algorithms are changing technology at a rate faster than any of us can imagine or even keep up with:

FY2016DODBudget

What is a data-mining algorithm in this case? Microsoft defines it as:

A data mining algorithm is a set of heuristics and calculations that creates a data mining model from data. To create a model, the algorithm first analyzes the data you provide, looking for specific types of patterns or trends. The algorithm uses the results of this analysis to define the optimal parameters for creating the mining model. These parameters are then applied across the entire data set to extract actionable patterns and detailed statistics.

Microsoft, along with Google and Amazon, lobbied heavily against legislation introduced in many states last year.  In most of the states, the legislation was amended which allows for these data mining algorithms to go out to different sources.  Your child’s data, despite what legislation passed, is not safe. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not recognize the algorithms generated by these types of tests and personalized learning modules.  It does forbid any personal identifying information to go out.  This is otherwise known as PII. This type of information includes name, social security number, address, birth date, and other easily recognized information. This is the information that schools aren’t allowed to get released to everyone.  But the information does go out, in a “de-identified” format.  So how would a state DOE keep track of what information is going out?  They assign each student a student identification number.  So while the PII information doesn’t go out, it is attached to a number.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) covered student data privacy and legislation in several states meant to protect student data in their online April magazine.  But like the legislation it glorifies, the article didn’t even touch what happens when outside companies get the de-identified data, make assumptions on it to form policy or assessments, and then send it back to the state.  The Every Student Succeeds Act is meant to limit federal control in education.  The states and local districts will have more control.  But because of the horrible federal mandates of the past eight years, the states are now just satellites of the same corporate education reform madness that infected the US DOE.  Instead of one central agency, we now have fifty calling the shots.

When you look closer at NCSL’s “concerns” about student data privacy, it is very alarming to see a study done by the Aspen Institute about the need for outside education companies to obtain student data.  This is an organization stacked with more corporate education reform leaders under one membership roof than any other organization I’ve seen.  There are many organizations like Aspen, and they all spit out the same bad methodology and education double-talk: high-stakes testing, Common Core, personalized learning, student data “privacy”, school choice, charter schools, turning schools into community centers, and so much more.  The problem is more and more of the education organizations that are supposed to be the last wall of defense against these corporate intrusions are joining them.  We saw this with the National Educators Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National PTA with the rushed passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Parents have never been more alone in their education battles.  In Delaware, our state PTA can’t even talk about opt out due to the immense bullying of the National PTA.

As long as we have high-stakes testing, we will have opt out.  But now, happening everywhere across the country, there are many other reasons to opt your child out.  Out of anything that could allow your child’s data to be released to any outside organization.  Until legislation is passed in every single state stopping this charade, assume your child’s digital footprint is making some company a lot of money.  Because the states pay these companies to do the research on YOUR child.  And if Delaware has their way, you won’t even be able to track it.

It was for all of these reasons and more that I wrote a Parents Bill of Rights for Education and the accompanying petition.  Please sign the petition today and let our political leaders know our children are not data, to be bought and sold.  They are human beings.  They need to be children, not a part of this absolute destruction of their spirit in the name of corporate wealth.  And if you are a parent of a special needs child, a minority student, an English Language learner, or a low-income or poverty student, the time is now to stop listening to civil rights and advocacy groups that spread this disease in public education and start asking yourself- what is this really about?

 

WEIC Meeting Tonight, The DOE’s Divide And Conquer Strategy Next Monday, & The Capital Debate

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is having a full commission meeting tonight at the Community Education Building in Wilmington.  The meeting on the 2nd floor in the teacher’s lounge begins at 5:30pm.  Many big education meetings are going down Monday afternoon with overlapping times, thereby ensuring no one can possibly make all three meetings.  As well, the very odd-sounding EFIC group has another meeting and the candidates for the Capital School Board are having a question and answer night!  But first, the WEIC agenda:

WEICAgenda42616I would imagine the group is a bit nervous since no legislation has been introduced to move forward on their redistricting plan.  If I were a betting man, it is coming but not until late June.  Tomorrow, one of the WEIC sub-committees is having a meeting: The Charter & District mud fight Collaboration Committee.

WEICCharterDistrictAgenda

But next Monday is where a lot of the action is as groups meet about the assessment inventory, student data privacy and the Every Student Succeeds Act.  It is possible to make all three if you drive REALLY fast and miss portions of two of the meetings.  But if you want free soda and pizza on the taxpayer’s dime, go to the last meeting!

The first one, which I’m most interested in given that I write a lot about student data privacy all the time these days, is the Data-Mining Club Student Data Privacy Protection Task Force.  They canceled the last meeting because they knew they wouldn’t have a quorum.  I would have put the agenda in, but of course the link doesn’t work.  I guess they want to make it private! 😉

StudDataPrivTF5216

In the next episode of “We Hate Parents so we are going to trick them out of opting out by making it look like we are getting rid of the bad tests”, the committee meets to discuss testing in Delaware.  Someone on the DOE side will talk about how essential the Smarter Balanced Assessment is and someone from the “good guys” side of the table will question what the hell we are even doing.  Audience members will give public comment overwhelmingly on the side of “Smarter Balanced sucks”.

SJR25216

To see the wonderful world of the Every Student Succeeds Act through the eyes of Corporate Education Reform Cheerleader State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson, come to Grotto’s Pizza at 5:30pm.  Keep in mind, everyone is still trying to figure out what the hell this mammoth law even means so anything Donna talks about will be subject to change.  Expect many “I don’t know”s and “We don’t know yet”s coming from the microphone for this one.  We can expect a lot of the same people to show up to this one.  Last time I went to one of these I got to take part in a table discussion with Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Melissa Hopkins from the Rodel Foundation.  Talk about awkward!  But it was all good…

StateBoardWorkshopESSA

And then on Tuesday, the Education Funding Task Force is meeting again to finalize their pre-determined potential education funding plan for the General Assembly to squeeze in during the last days of their legislative session.

SJR4Mtg5316

But THE most exciting education event next week will actually take place at Central Middle School on Wednesday May 4th at 7pm.  Candidates running for the Capital School Board are having a debate!!!  Shameless plug: I am one of the candidates.  Come and find out what our priorities, ideas, and concerns are and what our plans are to improve the district.  And don’t forget, no matter what district you live in, the school board elections are only two weeks away, on May 10th.

Capital Candidate Night

Delaware Educational Technology Report Wants Statewide Personalized Learning By 2020

The corporate education reform juggernaut wants personalized learning in every school in America, and Delaware’s latest educational technology report will help to make sure that happens in The First State.  Unless you home school, standardized testing will be impossible to stop in the future.  The plans from this report could also bring data mining into your very own home.

Last year, the Delaware 148th General Assembly created a State Educational Technology Task Force through Senate Concurrent Resolution #22.  The task force released their final report to the General Assembly yesterday.  There are far-reaching and gigantic goals coming out of this report, with huge technological and financial implications for every single student, teacher, school, and citizen in the state.

To be clear from the get-go: I am not against technology in the classroom.  What I am against is technology taking the place of a human teacher.  Technology, in my opinion, should be used as a support for the teacher, and not the other way around.  In today’s society, the majority of us are glued to the internet.  This article would not exist were it not for the internet.  My other chief concern with the digital invasion into every classroom is the data that comes out of it.  I’ve written about this hundreds of times in the past couple years, more so in the past few months.  There is nothing in any law that will prevent aggregate data, formed through algorithms embedded into the various learning modules and standardized tests, from falling into outside companies hands.  In fact, most states seem to want them to have access to this information.  The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) had its guidelines relaxed to such an extent that companies have easy access to student data.  The data is not connected to any personal identifiable information for each student, but it is all sent to these companies with each student identification number assigned to it based on the information they request.

Imagine, if you will, what happens when you go to Amazon.  You’ve been shopping there for years.  Amazon knows what you want to look for.  If you bought the second season of Downton Abbey through their cloud service, bought a paperback of The DaVinci Code a couple months later, and then a Bananarama mp3 a few months later, Amazon will tailor your shopping experience based on everything you have purchased and browsed.  As most of us who have gone through these “suggestive” ideas, there are many times where we don’t want what they are recommending.  But it still shows up.  The same happens with Google.  It remembers what you search for.  How many times have you gone to type something in Google, and they automatically know exactly what you are looking for?  Or Google thinks it knows and goes right to it but it was wrong?  It is all based on algorithms and predictive analysis.

Educational data on your child is crafted the exact same way.  It doesn’t know his name or his social security number, but it knows how old they are, what school they go to, what grade they are in, how long it takes to finish a test, all the behavior issues, any discipline problems, and much, much more.  It is all assigned to that number.  Outside companies get this information for “research” and send it back to the state.  The state is then able to come up with a model for that student based on their own data and what these companies are doing with it.  In time, states will emulate the Amazon and Google predictive analysis methods and will come up with “suggestive” career paths for students (if they aren’t already).  The personalized learning will be tailored towards that career path.  And of course all of this will be based on the Common Core, as students move on based on Competency-Based Education.  They can’t move on until they have gained proficiency in a subject.  Instead of you searching on Google or Amazon, this is the state (already bought by Corporate America) searching on your child and taking those predictive analysis algorithmic conclusions and making decisions on your child.  Whatever happened to the uniqueness and individuality of each child?  There are human factors and emotions that no computer-based model can ever measure.  Corporate Education Inc. wants to take that away from your child.  Permanently.

I also have grave concerns with the goal of every single student in Delaware having a state-owned digital device in home AND school by 2020.  The report shies away from districts and charters having individual contracts with providers of the devices due to cost.  So the technology each student would have would be based on what the state decides to purchase.  We are seeing this already in twenty-four Delaware local education agencies with the Schoology Learning Management System.

For teachers, they will be subject to countless hours of professional learning development geared towards the technology and how to implement the technology towards instruction.  In time, they will be required to show “confidence” in this ability.  Teaching will shift away from teacher to student  interaction to a technology-student-moderator environment.

The report also touches on what is known as the K-12 Open Educational Resources Collaborative.  This group is comprised of eleven states, including Delaware and the following: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.  But they aren’t the only members.  There are companies and “associations” that signed on as well: the Council of Chief State School Officers, Achieve Inc., The Learning Accelerator, Lumen Learning (most likely an offshoot of The Lumina Foundation.  Their CEO was a speaker at Delaware’s Pathways To Prosperity conference in February), Creative Commons, State Education Technology Directors Association, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, State Instructional Materials Reviews Association, Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics, and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.  And just to put the frosting on this corporate education reform entity, guess what they support? A member of their advisory team named Joe Wolf, who is also the Chair of The Learning Accelerator, is into “Social Action Bonds”.  But who are we kidding?  You can call them whatever you want, they are all Social Impact Bonds.  Every day there is some new education company coming out of the woodwork that I never knew existed before!

What concerns me about Delaware’s Educational Technology report is the questions that were not asked.  If the goal is to have every single student’s home wi-fi compatible, who pays for the actual internet service provider (i.e. Comcast or Verizon)?  How would it connect to the education personalized management systems?  If the home becomes a new “learning environment”, would anything on the internet in each person’s home then become “data” available for “education agencies” to request from the state (fully allowable under FERPA)?  Since most homes tend to get bundle packages, including cable and phone, does that mean that data could now be fodder for the state?  Imagine every single phone call you make on your landline or every television show you watch being a part of data collection.  By not answering these types of questions, or even asking them, it is very bold of this task force to suggest these kinds of recommendations.  There is a Student Data Privacy Task Force now in session (they meet again on Monday, April 4th from 3:00 to 4:30 pm on the 7th level of the Carvel State Office Building at 820 N. French St. in Wilmington and it is open to the public).  But this task force was created from Senate Bill 79 in Delaware which had so much lobbying from Microsoft and Google that the original intent of the legislation was shredded due to their interference and still allows this open flow of student data at an aggregate level (based on each student’s identification number).

This potential future is happening right before our very eyes.  There is so much more to this, and a few of us in the education blogging landscape suspect a future where the majority of the population become little drones and worker bees as a result of all of this.  We will exist only to serve the hive, aka, the corporate government.  Your job will be created for you based on your digital education.  Meanwhile, those in power will control it all.

It is time for a revolution.