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A Fantastic Summative Comment on My Data Mining Post

January 7, 2014

On January 3, 2014, I posted a piece entitled Beware of Data Sharing Cheerleaders Offering WebinarsOn January 5, Diane Ravitch featured the post  on her blog due to the post’s active commentary on both sides of the issue, including that of an inBloom representative.

It is January 7, and the comments are still live (167 comments).

Here is a comment just posted by gitapik. It provides a fine summation of the comments section (well worth the read if one has time):

This is an important thread. I just read through it, again, and started to put some ideas down. It got pretty lengthy, which makes me self conscious. But I still have more to say, lol. I don’t pretend to be an expert, so I’m putting these ideas out for consideration. If I need to be corrected, I will gladly take the heat. I’m all about getting it right for all of us:
“You can opt out of sharing your child’s data”.
“Parents have no rights to opt out in practice. I opted out, as did many parents, yet all data, including SSN’s were sent to inBloom, multiple times”.
“inBloom and Amplify doesn’t have student data”
“Both companies do have the data”
These two disparities, alone, display a need for transparent debate. They’re both very important points that require clarification.
“inBloom will never sell student information, nor will we share it with others unless directed to do so by a state or local customer”
What’s the definition of a “local customer”?
Regarding “…a state…”, please see below.
“Our customers (School Districts) have absolute control over who can access the inBloom service”.
Part of the disconnect, here, is that, even if inBloom is a disinterested party with no access to the data (a disputed claim), the school districts and the politics that influence them are not. Is it reasonable to assume that, throughout the US, every school district will maintain strictly monitored guidelines in the use of student data that’s stored in the cloud? Especially with the added pressure from the State and Fed to meet up with the stipulations of programs such as Race to the Top?
“inBloom Inc.’s own privacy policy acknowledges that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”
I understand the legal need for this clause. Any company, large or small, needs to cover it’s bases. And the more people that are served, the more severe the consequences can be without a clause of this sort. But a point was made about hackers breaching some of the most highly guarded data systems in our country. Is it really possible to say that this won’t happen with the information that’s being put out there about our kids? Is ANY margin of error acceptable?
“Focusing education programs on a narrow set of measurable hard skills at the expense of student-centered classroom activities and community building experiences that promote social/emotional learning and ethical behavior will leave our students ill equipped and unprepared for the real “tests” in life.”
“It’s discouraging reading the comments on this blog. So far, the word Gates appears 51 times. Privacy? 32 times”.
“Time to wake up & accept the fact that data is going to be collected & most likely won’t be all opt-in.”
There’s a movement underway to completely change the way in which children, adolescents, and adults are educated. A movement that does away with the teacher/student centered classroom and relies on technology as the prime delivery system. Beyond multiple choice tests, now essays can be graded through programs designed around the profiled grading systems of chosen professors. Children can be educated at home or, if in school, be supervised by inexperienced, inexpensive teachers who act as monitors and collectors of data. Programs evaluate the data and then decide on the steps to follow according to both current and past records of the student’s work and interest levels, etc.
A very large part of this movement is being pushed by Bill Gates. Is it any wonder that his name would come up 51 times on this or any thread that has to do with education reform? How about 100 times? His influence can’t possibly be understated. This man lives by data. It’s his life and his gold mine. Of course he will believe in it’s effectiveness and profit by it’s proliferation.
With this kind of capital to invest in R&D and the effective marketing of a valuable product, the question still needs to be asked: who put this man and his ideas in charge? Are his ideas of what’s best for America really in the public’s best interests? He’s investing in Biosensors to monitor U.S. students’ attentiveness ( I don’t usually get into absolutes, but beyond it’s uses in studies, how could anyone justify the use of something like this in a classroom? How could anyone NOT see the negative implications?
At what point do we draw the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not? Should those decisions be made by people who are profiting from the “solutions” and not having to deal with their repercussions (e.g. sending their kids to private schools that don’t use those methods) without the input of the millions of those with less wealth who will be the most effected in terms of footing the bill (taxes) and getting a quality education from this new system?
Yes, my alarm clock went off loud and clear and my eyes are wide open to the realities of data collection. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t question, discuss, and try to effect different ways in which it can be used, if at all. Mr. Duncan sneered at the idea of “going back to the days of pencil and paper”. Don’t get above your raising, people. The pencil is as powerful a tool as any computer. And it’s still there when the “system is down”. My personal preference would be to see a coexistence between technology and our current system of education that allows for a more natural evolution than the current “takeover” mentality is currently displaying. This model, imo, would better take into account the educational, social, and civic needs of the many different student populations that our educational system is supposed to serve.

Reformer-induced student data collection and sharing is an important issue for teachers, parents, and other rightly-shocked individuals to combat head-on. Join us in blowing the whistle on this orchestrated exploitation.

Make a cup of coffee; settle in, and read the entire thread.

Join in the conversation.

Most important, make such a noise over this well-financed attempt to profit off of children’s personal information that the reformers feel the ringing in their self-determined-entitled ears.

  1. Harlan Underhill permalink

    People become a means rather than an end. But hasn’t that already happened in public schools? That kids are seen as a means to global competitiveness, rather than as citizens?

    • Puget Sound Parent permalink

      What? Hey…huh, uh WHAT’S THIS!?!?

      Hell must have frozen over because for the first time in memory, I’m in agreement with every word of a Harlan Underhill posting.

      I’m not going to deconstruct anything and ruin this unique moment in time and space, Harlan. Let’s just enjoy the surface agreement and live in peace, brother. 🙂

  2. Alabama teacher permalink

    I know that public school students in Alabama will begin taking the ACT Aspire this Spring. but can anyone fill me in on data sharing here in Alabama? i teach in a Catholic school, though, so i don’t know everything that is going on in the state’s public schools, though I support them and try to keep up with what is going on and share information with as many other people as I can.. The Archdioceses in which I teach has adopted Common Core math and ELA Standards but a least for this year, we are still testing our 2nd-8th graders with the ITBS. I have no clue what test will be used next year though. Next Generation Tests were mentioned at grade level meetings last year.

  3. Cbee permalink

    Just a thought on exploitation. Our district has many Window XP computers which Microsoft will stop supporting in April. Some can be updated with Windows 7 or 8 but most cannot. So on top of the hundreds of NEW computers and infrastructure that must be purchased to accommodate PARCC testing, these computers must be replaced as well. How convenient for Microsoft. Instead of just millions from school districts it will be millions on millions. In just our small rural school district we are looking at pushing 1.5 million to Microsoft. Was this part of the plan? Why can they not continue to support Windows XP to relieve school districts of this extra burden? And is it just me or does the push from Microsoft to make Office a yearly subscription service instead of a one time purchase somehow fit in to the profit motive here as well? I have been an educator for 32 years. The type of exploitation and profiteering we are seeing with Common Core is beyond anything I imagined could have happened when I saw this coming several years ago.

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