Tag Archives: Texas

Database in #CommonCore Explained. Segregation Revisited?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

We shared Mark Garrison’s written testimony yesterday supporting MO SB 210 and HB 616 which calls for the halting of Common Core implementation.

Garrison writes in An Irrational $170 Million Database We Most Certainly Don’t Need about the data to be gathered on students via databases and Common Core standards:

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While some folks have been warning the public about this for over a year, a recent Reuters article has renewed popular outrage over a privately controlled centralized database that will house an unprecedented amount of individual level data without the consent or even the knowledge of parents, and apparently, state or federal legislatures. My comments are throughout, as I can’t resist. The article reads, in part:

An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares. But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school. In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school — even homework completion.

Brushing off real concerns about this development, readers are reassured with this declaration: “Federal law allows [schools] to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.”
Further on readers are informed:

Federal officials say the database project complies with privacy laws. Schools do not need parental consent to share student records with any “school official” who has a “legitimate educational interest,” according to the Department of Education. The department defines “school official” to include private companies hired by the school, so long as they use the data only for the purposes spelled out in their contracts.

This raises a host of questions, ones that I’ll deal with in a future post. But, for now, let’s follow the “logic” outlined in the rest of the article and what it reveals about the “Career and College Ready” agenda that is driving this initiative.

“This is going to be a huge win for us,” said Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at CompassLearning, which sells education software. CompassLearning will join two dozen technology companies at this week’s SXSWedu conference in demonstrating how they might mine the database to create custom products — educational games for students, lesson plans for teachers, progress reports for principals.

Maybe I’m confused, but I thought teachers created lesson plans and principals created reports? This discourse suggests the intensification of the de-skilling and de-professionalization of educators that began decades ago with scripted protocols, etc. Once in place, any Teach for America like temp worker can print up the computer-generated lesson plan, which will certainly include some “educational games”. Results of those “games” will automatically populate the report that the virtual principal will produce for the virtual school board.

Next we are told:

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp [known for violating privacy rights and spying], built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

What isn’t shared in the article is the role this database will play in implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), which would not exist in its present form without the Gates Foundation. The inBloom website discussion board clearly indicates that this database is designed around the CCSS. The CCSSI assessment apparatuses are likely to directly tie into this database if and once they become fully functional. And, given that the plan is to have student essays graded by computer, there are likely to be “digital” assessments of student writing from the dispositional point of view. Might an angry or merely “different” essay by a student trigger a “no education list” (a la the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s no fly lists) and be used by corporate charters in screening applicants, inventing a vast and detailed hierarchy of “human capital”?

The article continues:

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states — Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts — have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.

So, individual data collected by public authorities that are responsible to protect the privacy claims of these individuals is turned over to a private company, and then the public authority has to pay the private company for access to that data? Now that’s “critical thinking”! And while “inBloom pledges to guard the data tightly, its own privacy policy states that it ‘cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.’ ” Seems like a double standard when you think about how “reformers” would scream if a public school stated that it could not protect student privacy.

The article does report that parents from

New York and Louisiana have written state officials in protest. So have the Massachusetts chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and Parent-Teacher Association. If student records leak, are hacked or abused, “What are the remedies for parents?” asked Norman Siegel, a civil liberties attorney in New York who has been working with the protestors. “It’s very troubling.”

I encourage parents to send a letter, similar to this.

What follows is the main justification for the initiative, and it is worth parsing out in detail.

“We look at personalized learning as the next big leap forward in education,” said Brandon Williams, a director at the Illinois State Board of Education.

First, I believe “personalized learning” is the new language for what used to be called tracking based on “ability”, social class, or other forms of social differentiation (“race,” ELLs, etc.). But it gets better:

Does Johnny have trouble converting decimals to fractions? The database will have recorded that — and may have recorded as well that he finds textbooks boring, adores animation and plays baseball after school. Personalized learning software can use that data to serve up a tailor-made math lesson, perhaps an animated game that uses baseball statistics to teach decimals.

What kind of non-thinking human being creates such narrative? Even the most unmotivated mediocre teacher can determine if a student has trouble converting decimals to fractions! And wouldn’t the database be more useful if it could identify those students who actually found textbooks exciting? And, seriously, might teachers, unencumbered by the demands of “accountability” that increasingly block them from establishing meaningful relationships with their students, know which student likes baseball?

No teacher, school administrator or parent needs this database; it is a solution to a non-existent problem. It’s a complete hoax. It is also frightening that someone thought the above narrative was a useful public justification and that it could stand in a news item. How far gone are we that the absurdity is not evident? “Personalized learning” = remove the teacher -> collect “data” -> replace real teaching with “virtual games” -> so as “to get to know the student.”[1]

But wait, there’s more!

Johnny’s teacher can watch his development on a “dashboard” that uses bright graphics to map each of her students’ progress on dozens, even hundreds, of discrete skills.

Forgive me, but I prefer to watch the development of young people in person. “Bright graphics” — sounds like Disney, not education. “Discrete skills” — nothing says “product specification” better than “discrete skills.”

“You can start to see what’s effective for each particular student,” said Adria Moersen, a high school teacher in Colorado who has tested some of the new products.[2]

If you need a glowing, colorful dashboard of “discrete skills” to “see” your “students develop” and discern what is “effective” there’s definitely a problem. Or, maybe that’s the vision? Let’s continue:

The sector is undeniably hot; technology startups aimed at K-12 schools attracted more than $425 million in venture capital last year, according to the NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that focuses on the sector. The investment company GSV Advisors tracked 84 deals in the sector last year, up from 15 in 2007.

NewSchools is a big supporter of charters and other privatization schemes.

In addition to its $100 million investment in the database, the Gates Foundation has pledged $70 million in grants to schools and companies to develop personalized learning tools.

Again, I offer my suggestion that “personalized” is the new language of tracking. Data will be the new marker used to segregate.

Also of note is that the official estimates of the Gates Foundation contribution to the Common Core Standards is $100 million; but if we include all those grants that are part of the Core agenda, the number becomes much, much bigger; the above $170 million constituting a start. Based on data I have collected from their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website, I estimate the total expenditure to be about $1.5 billion between 2009 and 2012. The next bit is revealing as well.

Schools tend to store different bits of student information in different databases, often with different operating systems. That makes it clunky to integrate new learning apps into classrooms. […] The new database aims to wipe away those obstacles by integrating all student information — including data that may previously have been stored in paper files or teacher gradebooks — in a single, flexible platform. […] Education technology companies can use the same platform to design their software, so their programs will hook into a rich trove of student data if a district or state authorizes access.

This reminds me of the justification for the security state built post 9/11. We would all be safe if we could just break down those barriers between databases (e.g., eliminating boundaries between local, state and federal police agencies) and remove the blocks to spying!

At the Rocketship chain of charter schools, for instance, administrators must manually update at least five databases to keep their education software running smoothly when a child transfers from one teacher to another, said Charlie Bufalino, a Rocketship executive. The extra steps add expense, which limits how many apps a school can buy. And because the data is so fragmented, the private companies don’t always get a robust picture of each student’s academic performance, much less their personal characteristics.

First point: you most likely don’t need the software; the money could be better spent. Second point: who cares if the “private companies don’t get a robust picture”? Why are we all of a sudden so concerned about private companies having a “robust picture” of our children?

Yes, it even gets better.

Larry Berger, an executive at Amplify Education, says the data could be mined to develop “early warning systems.” Perhaps it will turn out, for instance, that most high school dropouts began to struggle with math at age 8. If so, all future 8-year-olds fitting that pattern could be identified and given extra help.

Forgetting for a moment that Larry’s statement erases more than 40 years of research on the predictors of “dropping out” (linked mostly to poverty, racism and lack of funding), my question is this: will the “early warning system” be color coded, like the now infamous “terror alerts?” Is “fitting the pattern” the new language for profiling? Sounds like the noble language of helping to prevent “drop outs” might hide something a little less palatable; maybe inBloom will partner with state governments to alert them of students not “ready” to vote?

Companies with access to the database will also be able to identify struggling teachers and pinpoint which concepts their students are failing to master. One startup that could benefit: BloomBoard, which sells schools professional development plans customized to each teacher.

Well that’s good news. Private companies that are charging the public for access to the data provided to them by the public will assist in further attacking teachers as the source of the problem while social inequality reaches new heights! Hopefully BloomBoard will lobby for more computers — I just hope some of the leaking roofs won’t short out the circuits. I also hope their statisticians can develop models that can compensate for students not giving a damn as they sit, alienated, in their PARCC testing cages.

The new database “is a godsend for us,” said Jason Lange, the chief executive of BloomBoard. “It allows us to collect more data faster, quicker and cheaper.”

But I thought it was “all about the kids”?

In the end, this is an untenable plan, doomed to failure, with more harm along the way. It should be opposed.

  1. Even the introductory video on the inBloom website presents a vision of the teacher/student interaction as completely mediated by their database which is to form the basis of and completely structure the student/teacher relationship. In the video, both students and teachers are presented as passive, with very limited voice, only acting through the devices devised by the database developers.
  2. The formulation “each particular” set me off, so I went searching on the Internet for Adria, and I came up with what appears to be someone who loves signing up to all the social media, but never really uses any of it (is she real?). No posts from her twitter account. No info on Linkedin, but a member. “Summitt Post” indicates “high school teacher” in Colorado. On “Clas talk”, nothing. Uses “pinterest” — what I saw was vapid. Appears on “rate my teacher” with 3 stars out of 5, from six respondents (“fun” was used frequently by those posting). (Obviously the sites that did not identify her profession and location could be for someone else.) From what I could find, she does not come across as an authority on the subject of using large databases to enhance education. She has been a teacher for a short time, and in general strikes me as an odd choice for an interview by an international news agency.
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Filed under Data Mining/Tracking, Data Systems, National Standards (Common Core)

Support Alabama in Anti-Common Core Fight. It is NOT an “island” Withdrawing from Common Core.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

From CE White in Alabama:

As you may know, Alabama has two identical bills to repeal Common Core. House Bill 254 and Senate Bill 190. There is a public hearing on Wednesday, February 27th at 3pm at the State House. I feel we have the votes for this to pass in the Senate, but the House is dealing dirty politics. One superintendent (who is connected to Broad Foundation and has invited Pearson to his district next month) wrote an article last week in a newspaper, claiming that Alabama would be “an island” if we withdrew from Common Core. Since that article, legislators have started to question why we need to pass these bills. In fact, they are using the same terminology that we might be “an island” if we pass this bill. I will be speaking at the public hearing Wednesday. However, we really need to get the word out to our legislators that we will not be “an island.” We need them to know that we are not alone in our fight. We need them to know that other states are also fighting against Common Core. Could you please help us get the word out, by having your organization and other states contact our legislators and tell them to please pass HB 254 and SB 190, and we will not be “an island.” We need to flood them with calls and emails. They need to know they have the support of the country. Here is the link to our Alabama legislature page, with links to contact information:http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senateroster_alpha.html

 

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Contact Alabama legislators and let them know that Alabama is not an island, but is a state joining in reclaiming state academic freedom with these states who have various anti-Common Core State (sic) Standards pending legislation:
  • Missouri
  • Indiana
  • Oklahoma
  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • South Dakota

These states did not adopt Common Core State (sic) Standards:

  • Nebraska
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Arkansas

This state adopted ELA standards only:

  • Minnesota

Alabama is NOT an island and legislators are being misled if they refer to the state in this manner. This is from  the article in which superintendent Casey Wardynski refers to Alabama as an island:

The proposed bill – cosponsored by Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison, Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville and Sen. Clay Scofield of Guntersville – would repeal the state’s adoption of those standards and prevent the state school board from adopting them a second time.

“If it was to pass, immediately we would no longer be allowed to be aligned with anything that is going on in those other 47 states with regard to this common core curriculum. That would be devastating. Alabama would become an island,” Wardynski said.

Wardynski has mixed reviews as a superintendent and his association with The Broad Foundation in geekpalaver.com and Eli Broad’s Return On Investment:

So let’s recap:

  • Wardynski has recommended, and the board has approved hiring PROACT Search (with direct ties to The Broad Foundation) for $110,000 to hire approximately 10 new principals.
  • He has recommended, and the board has approved hiring SUPES Academy to provide professional development to new Principals for $300,000 for two years.
  • He has recommended, and the board will likely approve the hiring of 110 Teach for America (supported by The Broad Foundation) for $550,000 a year.

In five months, Dr. Wardynski recommended spending just shy of one million dollars on programs supported by The Broad Foundation.

That’s not bad for a five month tenure, is it? While it’s not clear how much The Broad Foundation has spent “training” Dr. Wardynski, if the “training” for Teach for America is any indication, it’s likely in the $20,000 range. In exchange for this investment, Dr. Wardynski has already returned $410,000 in five months. In all likelihood at some point in November the rubber stamp board will approve spending $550,000 for Teach for America to hire 110 teachers who haven’t been trained to teach.

If you’d like to read more about The Broad Foundation’s “commitment” to education, take a look at “How to Tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus.” You might also consider following, “The Broad Report.”

$960,000 for five months work. Not bad. Not bad at all. I wish the ROI for Huntsville’s kids were as high.

The Broad Foundation is proud of Wardynski via its twitter feed:

Congrats to #broadacademy grad Dr. Casey Wardynski, named “Outstanding Superintendent of the Year” by Alabama PTA! http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/04/alabama_pta_names_huntsville_s.html …

It’s no surprise that the Alabama PTA would name him “Outstanding Superintendent of the Year”.  The PTA has received a million dollars to support CCSS (even before they were written) via The Gates Foundation and $240,000 from the GE Foundation for CCS support.  See here.

It should matter to Alabama legislators that Wardynski is wanting to implement standards that are unproven, untested and underfunded.  It should matter to these legislators he is supporting/promoting The Broad Foundation agenda while using taxpayer money.  It should matter to Alabama legislators that the PTA has been persuaded by Bill Gates and GE to support an agenda that does not protect teachers or students or parents from a vast public/private partnership that negates any local control.

Calling Alabama an island is a technique to take legislators’ eyes off the pertinent facts of Common Core State (sic) Standards.  Once you examine who is behind them and why, there is no question they should be rescinded.  They are not for the “kids”.  They are for organizations like The Broad Foundation, Bill Gates, TFA, PTA, etc to make money.

Contact the Alabama legislators and tell them the truth and the facts about Common Core State (sic) Standards.  Tell them how private outside companies are trying to direct the educational delivery and direction for Alabama students and schools.

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TX Education Commissioner Robert Scott: Testimony Opposing Common Core 2-6-2013

h/t to Christel Swasey of COMMON CORE.

Robert Scott was the Texas Commissioner of Education when Common Core rolled into town on the Race to the Top grant application train.

In this video, he says many important things.  None are more important than his opening, where he states that his experience with the Common Core started:  ”when I was asked to sign on to them before they were written. I was told I needed to sign a letter agreeing to the Common Core and I asked if I might read them first, which is, I think, appropriate and I was told they hadn’t been written but they still wanted my signature on the letter.  And I said, ‘That’s absurd; first of all I don’t have the legal authority to do that because our law requires our elected state board of education to adopt curriculum standards to be done with the direct input of Texas teachers, parents and business.  So adopting something that was written behind closed doors in another state would not meet my state law.”

This is an extremely important testimony for anyone weighing the decision of remaining tied to Common Core rules, or breaking free.

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The Similarities Between CSCOPE and Common Core

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog.

What is CScope?  From the home page:

CSCOPE is a customizable, online curriculum management system aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). CSCOPE’s high quality curriculum, assessment  and instructional components assist schools in meeting the high standard of rigor and relevance required in the TEKS and STAAR assessments.

CSCOPE has come under intense scrutiny from Texas legislators, parents and educators because of the cost, the curriculum, the necessity for online infrastructure in the schools, the fact CSCOPE is copyrighted and the taxpayers do not have the right to access the curriculum taught to their children.  The school districts/teachers do not have the right to teach other curricula other than what is mandated in CSCOPE.

Donna Garner attended a Texas Senate Education Committee hearing on CSCOPE and the following is her transcript of the meeting.  Many of the same issues raised by the legislators seem to be many of the same issues in CCSS: the huge cost (not voted on by taxpayers) to local districts, private corporations holding copyrights to curriculum paid for by tax dollars, the need for online infrastructure in the schools, curriculum inaccessible to the taxpayers and the inability for teachers/school districts to change the curriculum/standards/assessments.

As you read Garner’s transcript, do you believe this is a glimpse of the future to come with CCSS mandates? Is there really any substantial difference between the two programs?

“Most Amazing Senate Ed. Hearing Ever — CSCOPE”
by Donna Garner
1.31.13
 
Today’s Texas Senate Education Committee hearing  on CSCOPE was amazing. I watched the proceedings online from 8:30 A. M. until it finished around 3:15 P. M., and I took notes as fast as I could type. These may not be word-for-word, but I trust that I have captured the essence of the hearing. 
 
Texas Senator Dan Patrick led the hearing, and these are the Senators who worked alongside him to question the witnesses:  Donna Campbell, Larry Taylor, Eddie Lucio, Robert Duncan, Ken Paxton, and Kel Seliger.  (As best I could tell from online viewing, Royce West and Leticia Van de Putte did not attend the hearing.) 
 
What thrilled me is that all of us private citizens who have dug out the truth about CSCOPE and who have been vilified for our efforts were vindicated today because the evidence presented proved we were right all along.
 
FACTS REVEALED IN TODAY’S HEARING
 
CSCOPE was originally produced in 2005-2006  by outside consultants, one of whom was Linda Darling-Hammond who is tied to Obama and the Common Core Standards which is a takeover of the public schools by the federal government.  
 
In 2009 CSCOPE was incorporated as a 501(3)(c) non-charitable organization under the TESCCC (Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative), and the 20 directors of the Education Service Centers (ESC’s) make up the board of directors of TESCCC.  To do this incorporation, no legal counsel was sought from the Texas Attorney General’s office nor from the Commissioner of Education/Texas Education Agency. 
 
Now 875 districts are using CSCOPE and pay for it with taxpayers’ dollars costing from $7 to $9 per student to “rent” CSCOPE each school year.  The monies collected by the ESC’s are passed along to TESCCC and then to their fiscal agent, ESC 13 in Austin.
COST OF CSCOPE AND ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES
The Senators asked the ESC 13 witness how much school districts have paid for CSCOPE over the last several years, but that information did not seem to be readily available.  Sen. Campbell mentioned that Ector County ISD alone had spent $1.7 Million for CSCOPE just this school year. 
 
Questions were also raised about whether the ESC staffers who handle CSCOPE  full-time are paid by TESCCC/ESC 13 or by their own ESC’s and whether such an arrangement represents a type of double-dipping.
 
Sen. Campbell wanted to know who owns the proprietary property of CSCOPE if it was developed using public funds — “Do the people of Texas own it?”  She also questioned whether only parents should have access to CSCOPE since all Texas taxpayers paid for it. She said there are many good educators who are active and retired who have a commitment to helping children gain a good education and that everyone in the general public should have easy access to CSCOPE — in the same way that they do to copyrighted textbooks.  Sen. Campbell wanted to know where the checks and balances are to verify the content of CSCOPE.
 
Sen. Patrick told Wade Labay, Statewide Director of CSCOPE, that when a governmental body seeks to form a 501(3)(c), TESCCC should have sought legislative authority.  None was sought by TESCCC.
 
The Senators were very troubled by the fact that the Texas Attorney General’s office has said that the TESCCC is a governmental body yet it is using public funds to develop its product; uses public dollars to pay its ESC employees;  has no TESCCC business office; does not post its agenda; does not allow the public into its meetings; and will not allow public access to its minutes. 
 
“PLAYBOOK” RESPONSE FROM EDUCATION ESTABLISHMENT
Throughout the hearing, whenever members of the “education establishment” testified (e.g., school administrators, curriculum directors, representatives from Texas Association of School Board/Texas Association of School Administrators), it was as if they spoke from one “playbook” which had obviously been put together by ESC personnel. 
 
The common line used by the education establishment was, “Our district bought CSCOPE as a cost-saving curriculum management system to help our students to raise their academic achievement and to master the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests. Our teachers could not live without CSCOPE.” 
However, when hard data and research were sought by the Senators from the “ed establishment” to prove the effectiveness of CSCOPE, none could be produced — only their subjective opinions.  Almost all of the ed establishment witnesses mentioned their close-knit relationships with the ESC’s, and most said they had first heard about CSCOPE through the ESC’s.  Nearly all said their districts were constantly trained by ESC staff on CSCOPE.
 
CONCERNS OF THOSE CLOSEST TO THE CHILD
When classroom teachers, parents, or the general public testified — the ones closest to the classroom students — they told a completely different story.  One of the most poignant moments in the hearing occurred when a veteran Algebra teacher almost broke down in tears as he told of having to quit his teaching job recently because he was required to teach CSCOPE.  He said he could not look his students in the eyes, knowing that he was “aiding and abetting ignorance…and giving them an allusion of an education.” 
 
A well-credentialed education researcher, who works with many Texas school districts and who intensely dislikes CSCOPE, said she had had doors slammed in her face when she sought to uncover the ideology behind CSCOPE.  She said teachers are afraid to speak out about the content of the CSCOPE lessons and the links that students are directed to investigate.  Several of these links take students to sites where Wiccans are said to be similar to Christians and where Islam and Christianity are harmonized as being similar. 
 
A current classroom teacher of 30 years’ experience told about being offended with the lesson in which students were required to make a Communist/Socialist  flag.  She said her father had proudly fought in World War II to keep our nation free and that our students should be taught American exceptionalism.  She also said that CSCOPE content teaches none of the great novels and does not teach the young readers a systematic approach to reading using phonics.  She complained that CSCOPE instead teaches whole language and that there is no formal instruction of grammar, usage, and correct writing.
This experienced teacher gave the Senators a copy of the TESCCC/CSCOPE legal document passed out during a CSCOPE 2012 summer training session that states, “To support implementation of this detailed curriculum, districts must have processes and people in place to insure that there is sustained monitoring of the curriculum and that individual teachers do not have the option to disregard or replace assigned content.”  This teacher said that when parents put their children on the school bus to come to school, they are not sending them to school for a controlled and compulsory learning environment.  They want their children’s teachers to be able to be creative and to meet the individual needs of each child.  She said, “I want it recorded for the record that I have never voted for a conglomerate to take over the Texas school system, and parents have not either.”
 
Another witness said there was no need for CSCOPE because the curriculum standards (TEKS) are on the Texas Education Agency website along with many other excellent helps that teachers can use to prepare their students for the new STAAR/EOC tests.  Good teachers working together can create their own timelines and lesson plans.
 
One witness asked why the TESCCC was incorporated as a non-profit.  Was it to be able to hide the content of CSCOPE from the public?  Was it to keep their meetings, minutes, and agendas secret? 
 
TESCCC/CSCOPE PERSONNEL — OOPS!
 
When confronted with this evidence, the CSCOPE personnel at the hearing repeatedly admitted they had “Oops! Dropped the ball.”  As the meeting proceeded, it became clear that a pattern of cover-up by Wade Libay/TESCCC/CSCOPE has been taking place since the public “sleuths” started digging out the facts.  The website has been changed substantially since the Senate Education Committee public hearing was announced. Now Labay says teachers are not prohibited from allowing parents to see CSCOPE materials, but Sen. Patrick could never get a confirmed “yes” that parents could go right now and see fully their children’s CSCOPE materials 24/7.   
 
OBJECTIONABLE CSCOPE LESSONS
When the CSCOPE lesson referring to the Boston Tea Party patriots as “terrorists” was discussed (which had been in CSCOPE for seven years), Labay said it had been removed. 
 
When Labay was confronted with concerns over a lesson teaching the 5 Pillars of Islam, a lesson in which students role play a trek to Mecca, a lesson that teaches Allah is the same as Almighty God, a lesson on Christopher Columbus that cherry-picks his diary to take out any of his references to his belief in God, and a lesson in which students create a Communist/Socialist flag, he gave a lame excuse about those lessons having been a part of the “old” lessons, having been left in CSCOPE at the request of teachers. 
 
One Senator said he found it perplexing that when these lessons were first revealed by the public “sleuths,” TESCCC accused these concerned citizens of circulating “fallacious claims.”  
 
Senators Taylor and Paxton were deeply troubled about the student project in which students were to design a Communist/Socialist flag.  They cautioned that teaching children to role play and sympathize with a particular cause is indoctrination of the mind, and they asked Labay to tell them who came up with that lesson plan?  Labay gave the lame excuse that there are over 1600 lessons and that ESC 12 CSCOPE staffers are the ones who are in charge of the content. 
 
One of the Senators responded, “Oh, you mean the same group that has the closed door board meetings…We have already talked about several egregious lessons today.  How many more are there that are buried up in the rest of the CSCOPE lessons that we have not located yet?”
NO OUTSIDE, INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF CSCOPE
The Senators kept hammering at the fact that 875 Texas school districts have been using CSCOPE for the last seven years; yet there has been no outside, independent review of CSCOPE to make sure that its lessons align with the SBOE-adopted curriculum standards (TEKS) upon which the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests are based. 
 
Sen. Patrick said he found it highly upsetting that it had taken the chair of the Texas State Board of Education six months to get a password to CSCOPE.  Former SBOE member Charlie Garza testified that he had asked TESCCC to have extra time to study the CSCOPE lessons, but his request was denied. 
 
It was also brought out that besides the per-student CSCOPE rental, TESCCC also makes money by charging publishers $100,000 per event to see the CSCOPE lessons so that textbooks can be produced that align with it.  Other vendors pay fees, and TESCCC also makes money from its yearly educators’ conference. 

Senator Patrick said that the public had brought most of the CSCOPE problems to their attention over the last six to eight months and that he was upset over the lack of transparency and the secrecy demonstrated by TESCCC/CSCOPE.  He said this is the reason we need transparency, open meetings, and posted meetings  — so that a governmental body cannot violate every entity of being a public entity.  “How many more mistakes are there? … What is behind the curtain? … You are in 875 school districts … This is a very serious matter.”
 
SBOE OVERSIGHT OF CSCOPE CURRICULUM CONTENT
One Senator said he was investigating the possibility of charging the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education with the task of verifying the content of CSCOPE to make sure it is aligned with the TEKS.  Barbara Cargill, the chair of the SBOE, said that the Board has a review process already in place that could be used for CSCOPE since it is being used in 70% to 80% of Texas school districts. 
 
Cargill also mentioned her concern that TESCCC in its incorporation papers states that if TESCCC is dissolved, CSCOPE goes to the federal government.  She mentioned that she is concerned CSCOPE is not aligned with publishers’ textbooks and that it is very confusing for students when they read a CSCOPE lesson (or CSCOPE test) that says one thing and a textbook that says another. 
 
Ms. Cargill complained that CSCOPE does not align itself with the new Science TEKS in which all sides of scientific theories (both strengths and weaknesses) are to be taught. Instead, the only links she could find in the CSCOPE lessons go to material that teaches evolution as fact.
 
Barbara Cargill was asked by one of the Senators whether SB 6 (passed in the 82nd Legislative Session) triggered the explosive growth of CSCOPE since school administrators can now purchase CSCOPE (i.e., instructional materials including software and hardware) with state dollars without those materials having passed through the rigorous SBOE adoption process.  She said that having “100 eyeballs” to evaluate the instructional materials at the SBOE level is far superior to having only a few CSCOPE employees do so.
 
Pat Hardy, also a member of the Texas State Board of Education, verified that CSCOPE is a curriculum [not a “curriculum management system” as claimed by TESCCC/CSCOPE] and that it is the SBOE who adopts the curriculum standards — TEKS.
 
A parent whose children are in the public schools where CSCOPE is being utilized believes that the elected SBOE should have authority over CSCOPE.  However, she has a serious reservation because one of the present SBOE members is a registered lobbyist for Microsoft; and she wonders about the possible conflict of interest and corruption that could bias the SBOE/CSOPE alignment process.   
 
COMMON CORE STANDARDS INFILTRATING CSCOPE?
One retired science teacher said that at some point, Common Core Standards tried to purchase CSCOPE; and she is concerned because the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) is having a convention in California, using public dollars to pay for Texas school personnel to attend.  At this conference,  Common Core Standards and Linda Darling-Hammond will be featured.  Gov. Perry and both Texas Education Commissioners have said Texas will not participate in Common Core Standards.  Since CSCOPE is already in 70% to 80% of Texas’ school districts, the retired science teacher is afraid the CCS ideology could be permeating CSCOPE’s lessons right now.
 
CHILDREN BELONG TO PARENTS — NOT TO THE STATE
One of the last witnesses reminded everyone that children belong to their parents and not to the state; school children should be able to take their CSCOPE materials home each evening; and the public should have open access to see everything except the tests and answer keys.

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Augmented Reality In The Classroom: Aurasma

By Charles Cooper and Jill Compher

The simplest and most fundamental of elements in any sphere of knowledge seem to be the most difficult to explain.  The fundamental may be basic, but it is also the foundation upon which more complex things rest upon.  The atomic is difficult to qualify or quantify because qualities and quantities are based on those essentials.  Most of us can’t imagine, for example, our classrooms without certain crucial tools like electricity, our computers, or that bottle of Tylenol taped to the bottom of our desks. We would like to introduce you to your next crucial tool…Enter: Aurasma (key dramatic music).

Aurasma BB

Aurasma is a game changing app for Apple and Droid products that we absolutely LOVE.  Once you see it in action, ideas will fly out of you so quickly you may want to stop reading now and get something to write with.  The complexity of its application is completely up to how much you want to integrate this app in your lessons.  It is simple to use, but adds so much to your classroom experience.

Originally, Aurasma was developed as an advertising app to add POP to boring paper media advertisements.  If you go to their “campaign” site you’ll see the various companies involved with this project.  Because it was developed first in England, Aurasma is hitting its stride in Europe.  Organizations like the Tottenham Hotspur and Mercedes are using this app to really hook customers.   It has slowly been making its way into the United States.  Recently, Marvel Comics, GQ, HP, and the Rolling Stones have incorporated this augmented reality app into their arsenal of marketing efforts.

Aurasma is a free app that allows the user to tag an image with addition layers of information.  These addition layers can consist of audio, video, or image files.   Just like the advertising efforts mentioned above, this app can really draw students into any upcoming or current lesson.  For example, a poster of Abraham Lincoln can be brought to life by layering audio of the reading of the Gettysburg Address, a scene from a Civil War documentary, or a still image related to the Lincoln Presidency.  At this point you may be thinking isn’t that what a “QR Code” does?  Nope!

QR codes are disembodied portals to a destination.  A QR code usually distracts from the image it is layered upon.  Aurasma, however, IS the image.  It allows the operator to use a picture, already useful and full of information, as the portal itself.  This picture then leads to additional information, examples, or interactive documents (via Google Docs, to name one source) that continue the lesson or open it up to higher level prompts or assignments.  A QR code is essentially limited to a single destination point.  With an Aurasma “studio” account (free) you can layer a video on top of ol’ Honest Abe.  Double tap the screen of your device while the video is playing to make it full screen.  Then, with a single tap to the screen the app can send you to a second destination like another video, a website, or an educational platform like Moodle, Angel, or Blackboard (or your very own blog).

Watch this video to see the process in action.

There is only one minor limitation to this app from our experience.  You must establish a “channel” and have other users follow you in order for outsider to have access to your “auras”.  If you tag a political party’s logo with a video of how off-base their political views are, Aurasma will pull up only the tagged video you uploaded.  This delivery system is similar to Twitter in the sense that you only get the messages from people you follow on Twitter.  If multiple people or companies layer a video on that same image, only the videos of the channels you are following will appear.  We’re not sure what happens when multiple channels tag a single image with their own videos, but up to this point, this has not been an issue.

We have incorporated the many uses of Aurasma into a bulletin board that demonstrates its power.  We used Bloom’s Taxonomy as our frame and attached multiple examples from various disciplines.  So, if you are a newcomer to technology in the classroom use Aurasma on Bloom’s Knowledge Level, but if you’re a pro looking to put some pop in your lessons you may want to use Aurasma to target Bloom’s Synthesis Level.

There are two options when creating auras via Aurasma.  You can create and store them in the “private” section or the “public” section.  You will find below instructions for making a “public” aura.  Auras must be public and connected to a channel students are subscribed to for classroom use.

  1. Once you download Aurasma (for free) and register it.  You will press the “A” icon at the bottom of the screen.
  2. You will see a “+” icon at the bottom of this screen.  Press this to create a new aura.
  3. There is a library of preloaded 3-d images and videos you can use or you can create your own.  Let’s assume you want to create your own.  So, next press “device”.
  4. In the upper left hand corner you’ll see a large purple “+”.  Press that.
  5. You can take a new video or image by choosing “Camera”, you can upload a previously taken image or video by choosing “photo album”, or you can upload images or videos from the internet by choosing “blinkx”.  Just for brevities sake, let’s choose a still image you already have on your device.  Press “photo album”.
  6. Once you pick your image or video, you will be given the option to name it.
  7. You will then be prompted with the question “Would you like to create an Aura?”  Choose “ok”.
  8. The “Aura” screen will appear.  The next image you capture will be your “trigger image”.  When Aurasma sees this image, your overlay will appear.  So find something around you that has enough detail for the spectrum indicator at the bottom to move to the “green” side.  This lets you know that Aurasma can “see” it.
  9. Take the picture and Aurasma will give you a preview of your final product.  Push the “>” button to move on.
  10. Name your project.  You have the choice to make it public or private here as well as whether you want to add it to a channel or not.  Remember, channels are how your followers will access your “Auras”, otherwise these are accessible only to you on your device.  For classroom use, choose “public” and add to your classroom channel.
  11. Finally, Aurasma will let you know when your “Aura” is ready to go!  All that is left is to try out your new Aura.
  12. Follow our pre-established channels to see some examples of this in action.  First, in Aurasma, search for and follow Northwest High School, #CoopGovt, and Compher Social Sciences channels.  Next, follow this link to our list of images that will then trigger the overlays (don’t forget; double tap the screen to make the video larger and single tap to go to the next part of the assignment).

http://thrasymakos.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/aurasma-trigger-images/

Aurasma Trigger Images

  1. Or, if you already have Aurasma loaded onto your device, focus on the above “Aurasma Trigger Images” to immediately be sent directly to the multiple other Aurasma examples.

*Charles Cooper (@Thrasymachus) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  He teaches college and regular ed. government and was awarded the 2012 Humanities Texas Teacher of the Year Award.

*Jill Compher (@JillCompher) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  She teaches AP Psychology and Sociology.  Jill is an AP Psychology reader for College Board.

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Teachers, It’s Time to Spark a Literacy Revolution in America!

This is the first of what we hope to be many articles focusing on professional development. This article is written by Annie Palmer, a 3rd Grade Elementary Teacher and Instructional Leader in the Kearney, Missouri School District.

It is time for teachers across the nation to join a literacy revolution.   Many of us have heard the alarming statistics about reading and literacy in America.  Among the numbers to worry about are the facts that two-thirds of eighth-grade students do not read on grade level (NEAP, 2009) and students with below grade level reading skills are twice as likely to drop out of school as those who read on or above grade level (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis). Are you convinced yet that we need a literacy revolution?

The components of this revolution are not in a basal program.  The answer is not more book reports, more ditto sheets, and more whole-class novels.  The answers lies in the fact that our kids are severely lacking in a motivation to read when we drown them with these traditional ways of teaching. We must first ask ourselves what will motivate our students to read.  According to Krashen (2004), 51 studies prove that students in free-reading programs perform better than or equal to students in any other type of reading program. Not only does research back this claim up, so does evidence-based research conducted by Donalyn Miller, a sixth-grade Texas teacher and author of The Book Whisperer.   Miller’s students are passing the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test with flying colors, and more importantly, they are motivated and inspired to read. I have to admit, after reading The Book Whisperer three years ago, I doubted that free voluntary reading (FVR) could make such an impact. I was proven wrong.  After implementing FVR through an 18-book challenge in fifth grade and a 40- book challenge in third grade, I am convinced this is the key to our literacy revolution.

My classroom was transformed from mundane skills-only instruction to a classroom where students took part in daily conversations about higher-level questions about their reading, excitement about what they were going to read next, and a sense of pride simply from the sheer amount and depth of reading.  And yes, that was without any extrinsic incentives!  The reward was the reading itself. (Yes, kids do read without extrinsic rewards). 

There was definitely an adjustment period for the students, parents and for me as we underwent this new approach.  Questions from the students included “You mean I have to do 18 book reports?!”  No, was the answer to that; they did not do book reports.  One does not need a book report to know whether students are comprehending text or even to know whether they can summarize.  Suggestions from parents included making the kids take an Accelerated Reader test.  Again, one does not need a test to know whether a child comprehends or even to figure whether they actually read the book.  The point of free voluntary reading is to get students excited about reading, to make them life-long readers and to facilitate intrinsic motivation to read.  I used my classroom lessons and assessments to gauge their ability to comprehend text.  Free voluntary reading was about creating the love of books, which is way more likely to encourage someone to read the rest of their life than a book report, an Accelerated Reader test or any classroom lesson.  Lessons, assessments, and comprehension checks need to be a part of a communication arts classroom, but without free voluntary reading, a classroom teacher is only helping students pass their class, not helping them be a life-long reader and thinker.

The first year I took this approach was the first year I started receiving notes from parents, saying “thank you, my child now loves to read.”  One of the most impactful responses I received from a parent and her child was as follows:

“My son and I we were discussing his day at school and if he had homework this evening. He mentioned that he needed to read, which lead me to tell him that I have noticed an increased interest in him wanting to read. His response was enlightening! He said, “Oh yes, mom, Mrs. Palmer has changed my life”. It was a very sincere statement and just wasn’t quite what I was expecting in reply. He continued to say that he likes to read and when he gets a good book, he just can’t put it down. Jake has always read books because he needed to and because we’ve encouraged him to; however, he has never enjoyed reading or picked up books at the spur of the moment until this year. Thank you!”

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Would Dr. Suess Approve of Data Determining “The Places You’ll Go”?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”  Remember the Dr. Suess book with that name?  It’s a book given to many graduates as they enter the world.  It’s a book about choices, change, risk and growth a young boy faces as he explores life.  Excerpts from a summary of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” from suite101.com:

Oh The Places You’ll Go describes up times and down times, waiting times and stressful times. Here’s a summary of this popular kids’ book by Dr Seuss.

In the beginning, Dr Seuss writes…
Oh! The Places You’ll Go starts with a boy (sorry girls, it’s one of those times you just have to lump yourselves in with the guys). Anyway, this boy is starting off on his journey to Great Places. He’s “off and away!” He’s got brains and feet, and can go in any direction he chooses. He’s fresh and excited about his latest adventure, and he knows nothing will stop him.

Decisions in Oh! The Places You’ll Go
The boy can choose whether or not to go down certain streets. Dr. Seuss stresses how smart and capable the boy is. And we all are, even us girls (but sometimes we ignore our gut feelings). Oh The Places You’ll Go is about making good decisions.

Read the summary (or the book) and you will understand the boy’s decisions are up to him on how to live his life. He learns to make good decisions.  He learns life is a series of ups and downs and how to enjoy the good times and stay strong through the hard times.   It’s a coming of age book and the character learns the direction of his life is up to him.

When I read the article Oh, the Data We’ll See and the Places We’ll Go! from Data Quality Campaign (DQC) I was speechless.  It is written by a Texas principal, Vera Wehring, about her use of data and how it must be monitored and for what purpose.  My first thought was “Dr. Suess must be turning over in his grave”.  She borrows Suess’ book title about a character determining his own life’s path and turns it into an exercise of using data to determine a student’s life.  The student’s innate abilities, desires and decisions are now funneled into data sets for school success, not the student’s personal success.  From the DQC article:

Individual Students
One of the challenges we have faced as a campus is in not meeting some of the rising accountability standards. Each time scores have been below standards, it has been by just a few students, and students from different subpopulations within our school. Thus we learned that we must look at individual student progress and individual student needs, and then individualize student interventions. To do so, we access student testing trends, projections of future success, and suggested interventions based on student profile. This particular data source helps us identify teachers’ value-added performance, identify students in target groups, and drill down to student detail. These data are used alongside traditional classroom assessments, campus and district assessments, and any other information that may be gleaned about individual students so that all students are monitored to ensure they are reaching their potential and achieving at appropriate academic levels. Progress is monitored by students themselves, classroom teachers, the campus leadership team, and the entire faculty.

Over the last several years, we have established processes and procedures to make data collection, analysis, reflection, and action an ongoing and embedded expectation. We do not claim to be perfect, nor do we claim to have found a panacea for all achievement ills. We do continue to refine and adjust our processes as data points change, teacher and leader capacity grows, and student needs alter.

The responsibility in Suess’ world depends on the individual to determine his destiny.  DQC and data driven educators believe the responsibility to determine students’ destinies rely on their services based on student data.  Read the entire article and you can understand how swamped these educators are with data driven mandates and how to manage the data requirements:

On a daily basis, principals are bombarded with a myriad of data points. It is easy to take a cursory glance at the piles of data, become overwhelmed, and move on to the next item on our to-do lists. It is also tempting to become bogged down in the data and spend hours on end sorting, analyzing, and then failing to act on them. The most effective leaders prioritize data, analyze them, and use them to make data-informed school improvement decisions.

What this data mining accomplishes is for school improvement benchmarks.  Wehring mentions student individualization, but this individualization is based on standards imposed by data sets.  How is “projection of student success” measured?  If a child doesn’t show “promise” by a certain age?  If a child is an auditory learner and material is taught visually, is that child not a projected “success”?   What this principal doesn’t seem to understand is that “the places you’ll go” isn’t about DQC or her data.  It’s about taking life by the “hoo-has” and living life to its fullest:

My cousin, Todd Parker, however, has definitely lived up to Dr. Seuss’ philosophy of life. He is a 2003 graduate of Petal High School. He was awarded the Presidential Scholarship from the University of Southern Mississippi and was dedicated to his education.

While in school he worked part time at Purple Parrot where he developed the skill and love for cooking. Against his parents’ advice and the advice of many others, he decided to forfeit his scholarship and head for New York City in pursuit of becoming a chef. That decision took a great deal of courage.
My cousin enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in 2006 in New York City, and the art of cooking became his passion. He completed an eighteen week internship in New Orleans and graduated from the Culinary Institute in 2008.
After graduation he returned to New Orleans and worked for approximately two years when he was asked to move to Germany to expand his education under some of the most world-renowned chefs. So, do you think he jumped on the opportunity? You bet your grits he did.
I propose Dr. Suess had this type of life journey in mind for people rather than a school/data company/government program of placing human capital into specific slots in a managed economy.  Students’ futures are not up to administrators, data companies or the government.  The following quote was meant for individuals, not corporations/government agencies making decisions for the individuals:
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.”
― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!  
Link here for more quotes from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
If Principal Wehring is going to use this title of a Suess book to support a data driven agenda, she might want to read the book to understand what she advocates is far from what Dr. Suess meant to convey to readers.  Perhaps she took this tongue in cheek book review as fact and data to support her data driven argument.  This actually is the argument of the managed economists, don’t you think?

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RFID Chipping: When Students are Determined to be Human Capital, then it’s Necessary to Track them as Inventory.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

One of the schools in my district is looking to implement fingerprint scans to hurry up the lunch line.  Some parents express concern on this practice while others view it as an efficient method to solve a problem of impatient waiting children and decreased times to eat lunch.

I read education articles from progressive to libertarian to conservative sites.  Regardless of political affiliation, writers from all sides are concerned about data mining of students and the future implications of

  • who has access to this information
  • where it will be shared
  • how it might be used
  • possible data breaches compromising private and sensitive information

Voices championing these programs are the ones making money off the data mining information and programs and the clueless taxpayers who believe governmental agencies have our individual interests in mind as the basis for these programs.

The article Student RFID Chipping Conditions American Youth to Accept Government Surveillance covers the gamut for student data mining. Once it’s permissible to scan your child’s fingerprints to receive government services, why isn’t it permissible (or mandated) to use other bioscan techniques in order to receive other educational programs?

A school in Maryland has installed PalmSecure, a biometric scanning system that requires elementary students to place their hand on infrared scanners in order to pay for their school lunch. The unique nuances of each child’s individual hand will be catalogued and the image encrypted with a numerical algorithm that is combined with the cost of school lunches.

PalmSource, a Japanese corporation specializing in biometric technology offers this “authentication system” which is a marketed as a necessity in healthcare, security, government, banking, retail and education.

The corporation also provides an array of RFID chipped tags with memory capacity.

The cost to taxpayers and parents for the installation of this Big Brother surveillance system in 43 schools in Maryland is estimated to be $300,000.

PalmSource is being beta-tested in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The school district of Spring Independent in Houston, Texas believes that “RFID readers situated throughout each campus are used to identify where students are located in the building, which can be used to verify the student’s attendance for ADA funding and course credit purposes.”

In Texas, children attending school in the Northside Independent School District will be required to carry RFID chipped cards while on campus. The 6,000 student’s movements will be monitored by faculty, in a pilot program that hopes to expand to tracking all students in the 12 districts.

Principal Wendy Reyes of Jones Middle School, explains: “It’s going to give us the opportunity to track our students in the building. They may have been in the nurse’s office, or the counselor’s office, or vice principal’s office, but they were markedly absent from the classroom because they weren’t sitting in the class. It will help us have a more accurate account of our attendance.”

In the San Antonio school district, the Student Locator Project (SLP) is being beta-tested at Jay High School and Jones Middle School – two schools in the Northside district. The SLP includes the use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to “make schools safer, know where our students are while at school, increase revenues, and provide a general purpose ‘smart’ ID card.”

Students rallied against the use of RFID chips in two of their middle schools in San Antonio, Texas. The school district “maintained” that controlling truancy and tardiness as well as gaining $2 million in state funding for the use of these tracking devices was the motivation behind the implementation of the technology.

The school district of Spring Independent in Houston Texas believes that “RFID readers situated throughout each campus are used to identify where students are located in the building, which can be used to verify the student’s attendance for ADA funding and course credit purposes.”

In order to check out school library books, register for classes, pay for school lunches, the “smart” ID card is being employed to trace and track students and their movements on campuses all across America. By using leverage of educators to coerce school districts to adopt this method of tracking students, the argument for the use of the RFID technology is campus safety, efficient registration, and food and library programs.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) demands that ranchers use RFID chips to monitor their livestock. It is expected that RFID chips will become a part of our daily life, with their presence embedded in clothing, packaging, and bar-code labels on retail goods.

Herding and surveying people in our society with the use of RFID chipping disrupts our innate ability to remain private and infringes on our Constitutional civil liberties. The information contained in the RIFD chip could be the individual’s social security number, home address, medical records, school records, criminal records, financial records, and any other information that can be referred to digital storage. These chips can be accessed either by a source 100 feet or more from the person wearing the RFID chip. Remote access to the information contained in the chip is able to be read by directed satellites and sent to database centers where it can be used within a digital profile.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built 70 counterterrorism fusion centers across the nation. The cost to taxpayers is $1.4 billion so that federal and local law enforcement agencies can use surveillance equipment to database the movements of American citizens. According to a US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on fusion centers, some may be allocated for pre-crime suspicions, others would be simply watched so that they the US government will be able to properly learn how to control a mass of people.

These fusion centers receive mostly unusable information that endangers citizen’s civil liberties. The Committee could not surmise from data provided by DHS how the fusion centers worked with local law enforcement, but rather came to an assumed conclusion that data being collected on Americans is being stored within DHS facilities for the expressed (and as of now unknown) use by the federal agency.

Meanwhile, mainstream media is busy selling the idea that multi-media devices like smartphones, need to be implanted in the body. In the not-so-distant future, corporations hope that humans will embed microchips into their brains in order to use technologically advanced devices. However, this endeavor has a dark side.

It is predicted that in 75 years “microchips can be installed directly in the user’s brain. Apple, along with a handful of companies, makes these chips. Thoughts connect instantly when people dial to ‘call’ each other. But there’s one downside: ‘Advertisements’ can occasionally control the user’s behavior because of an impossible-to-resolve glitch. If a user encounters this glitch — a 1 in a billion probability — every piece of data that his brain delivers is uploaded to companies’ servers so that they may “serve customers better.”

Anngie and I have returned from a trip to a one room Amish schoolhouse.  We’ll be writing in the next few days about the difference between education including electronic tracking vs education delivered in a small, intimate setting with no government surveillance needed.  The difference between how public education students are tracked in school and how the Amish teachers handled student movement on school property is astounding.

This community established the school two years ago.  It was approached by the public school district to sign the students up as public education students.  It would have been a great tax infusion for the district and financing for the Amish school, but for the community school autonomy, not so much.  The community made the decision not to align itself with the public school’s programs.  The Amish teacher understood this tradeoff and while finances are tough for the school, she was pleased she has the authority to teach the students in the manner the community believes appropriate.  She was aghast that local public school districts are now mandated by Washington DC for much of the education delivery on the local level.  I can just imagine her response on chipping children for informational data information for governmental use.

Here’s a website  alerting folks to the dangers of chipping children like cattle.

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