Facebook’s theft of personal data may not be the worst scenario. For several years, left-leaning Silicon Valley-DC Beltway entities have been purloining the personal information and browsing habits of millions of American schoolchildren.
Facebook, along with other tech elites have been partnering with the U.S. Department of Education and schools nationwide in pursuit of student data. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Pearson, Knewton, and others have been accessing student data. State and federal educational databases provide private companies access to public schoolchildren that perform annual assessments, such as those supported by Common Core “standards,” tests, and aligned texts and curricula.
The Every Student Succeeds Act allows for government collection of personally identifiable information — including data collected on attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions — and allows the release of the data to third-party contractors–during the Obama-era access to school data increased despite the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
Another popular initiative, the “school-to-work pipeline” opens access for firms pitching data-gathering initiatives to “align” student learning with “skill sets” and “competencies” desired by corporations.
Facebook recently joined with the Department of Education’s federally sponsored Digital Promise initiative last fall to develop a system of “micro-credentialing” badges for adult students in digital marketing. Facebook is training students to learn “Social Media Marketing Basics,” “Marketing with Facebook Pages,” “Marketing with Facebook Ads” and “Marketing with Instagram.”
The Facebook/Digital Promise partnership is “a wonderful data collection and marketing tool for Facebook and the US Department of Ed, but it is incredibly alarming for students’ privacy and security.”
Facebook also accesses secondary and elementary school-age users through its Messenger Kids app and “whole-child personalized learning” programs funded through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. CZI, a “philanthropic investment company” funded with up to $1 billion in Facebook shares over the next three years, is headed by Jim Shelton, the former program officer at the Gates Foundation and a key Common Core champion in the Obama administration.
“Personalized learning” is an edutech buzz word being floated. Essentially, it is a marketing plan for accessing the classroom and hooking students and teachers on branded software and hardware — iPads, smartboards, computerized portfolios, homework apps, etc. Data on how these objects improve academic performance is not obvious.
Under the guise of customizable assessments, public and private preschools in Colorado experimented with toddlers whose student activities and social/emotional behaviors were tracked using the TS Gold (Teaching Strategies Gold) system — funded with $30 million in Race to the Top subsidies under the Obama administration. Parent Lauren Coker discovered that TS Gold assessors in her son’s Aurora, Colorado, the public preschool had recorded information about his trips to the bathroom, his hand-washing habits and his ability to pull up his pants.
Sunny Flynn, a mom with kids in Jefferson County, Colorado, asked: “What security measures are being used to protect this data? Who exactly has access to this data? How long will the data be stored? What is the proven benefit of a kindergarten teacher putting all of this data into a database?”
Beware of free things. Google has accessed schools through its “free” Google Apps for Education suite. Google is building brand loyalty through its certification program that essentially turns teachers into tax-subsidized lobbyists for the company. GAFE enrollees are “trained” on Google products, earn certification, and then open up consultancy businesses and bill their school districts (i.e., the public) to promote Google’s suite of products to other colleagues.
On Monday, 23 parent and watchdog groups filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleging that Google is violating child protection laws by collecting personal data and advertising to those aged under 13.
Over the past four years, Google has admitted “scanning and indexing” student email messages sent using GAFE and data mining student users for commercial gain when they use their accounts for noneducational purposes. Google can collect student/family data to target ads through related services outside the GAFE suite, such as YouTube for Schools, Blogger and Google Plus. These are not covered under the already watered-down federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Under the Obama years, loopholes in federal student and family privacy protections opened data mining to third-party private entities. Those have yet to be closed by the Trump administration.
Laurie Wolpert says
Regardless of the problem of stolen data, ed-tech is vastly oversold as a learning “tool”. Thousands of dollars of money that could be spent on counseling, smaller classes, or small group tutoring are instead poured into technology and its maintenance. Arts, music, a decent building to work in, counseling for students who have been traumatized, and happy, healthy adults who care for kids would go miles farther than any so- called personalized learning program.
Paul Plante says
What country is this that we live in, anymore?
Does anyone have a clue?
With all of these corporations being given license to feed off our children, on must wonder.
A friend says
The use of a spell checker (an application program that flags words in a document that may not be spelled correctly) on your next submission/comment Paul Plante, may help you to minimize future spelling errors.
Paul Plante says
Who’d a thought it?
When did that get invented?
Did Al Gore invent that along with the internet?
If so, he truly deserves a real debt of gratitude from the whole world and everyone in it.
And “friend,” thank you so much for being so interested in my spelling and concerned about it.
Your compassion in that regard is appreciated,
As I have said, when it comes to my letters and cyphering, I am largely self-taught, much like Abraham Lincoln was, so I am always grateful when somebody much better off education-wise comes in and corrects me.
So thanks again, and please, if you see something else I misspelled, feel free to let me know.
And in the meantime, maybe I can get my little granddaughter who is computer-savvy to show me where that spell-checker thing might be located, now that I know there is such a thing in existence.
Todd Holden says
Are you serious???
What is wrong with you??
People can spell and pronounce words any way they like. Take the North American Negro for instance, they certainly spell and pronounce words any way they like….so why, then, should the rest of us not do the same? I can assure you I do as I please, that white privilege, you know.
Paul Plante says
And friend, a spell checker would have skipped right over the use of the word “on” for “one” in the sentence “With all of these corporations being given license to feed off our children, on [sic] must wonder,” given that “on” is also a word.
And there is every possibility that I wrote “one” and the spell-checker itself decided I really wanted “on” there, for some strange reason inherent in its programming, and changed the word on its own.
I find that behavior on its part to be over-aggressive, actually, like these new cars with sensors on them to detect the white lines that fight you for control if you have to veer around something or someone in your lane.
So let me carefully re-post that sentence trying very hard to PROOF-READ the spellchecker to make sure it did not change my words for me in here, to wit:
With all of these corporations being given license to feed off our children, one must wonder.
I certainly do, anyway.
Mike Kuzma, Jr. says
Erudition expressed expeditiously exacerbates errors.
Paul Plante says
Being old, hard of seeing and a poor typist does as well, Mike, but what you said is true, just the same, for those that it applies to, and in this hectic world we find ourselves engulfed in, probably they are many.
More than one, anyway.
Mike Kuzma, Jr. says
I’ll give you some of my HA batteries, and you can trade me a pair of your older glasses and we’ll work it out somehow.
Be well, Paul. Enjoy your week.
Paul Plante says
Thanks, Mike, and you as well.
Paul Plante says
But you also know what, friend?
That spell-checker thing you talk about actually changes what I have written, I notice, so that when I write the word important, for example, it will capitalize the “I” and separate it from the rest of the word, or if I write “un-American,” which I just had to go back and change, the spell checker will have it “in-American,” which it just did right there.
So maybe in addition to me having to learn to spell, the spell-checker could use some extra schooling as well.
Just a thought, anyway.
A friend says
If you want to make a serious impact on your readers Paul Plante, cut your verbiage (“overabundance or *superfluity, as in writing or speech”) in half.
*”An unnecessarily or excessively large amount of something”—words in your case Paul Plant.
Additionally, your use of definitions embedded in your submissions for those whom, it seems, you believe to be less than properly educated is insulting (as I am sure you are now painfully aware-see above Paul Plante).
Also, the repetitive use of the names of your online discussion partners is boorish (“A person’s, acts, manners, or mannerisms that violate in some way the generally accepted canons of polite, considerate behavior. Boorish, originally referring to behavior characteristic of an unlettered rustic or peasant, now implies a coarse and blatant lack of sensitivity to the feelings or values of others”) Paul Plante.
Rick West says
Please explain how he is responsible for coddling you all with political correctness. He is not. You all need to tuck those raw nerves back in.
Paul Plante says
Dear friend, what you have just done there, with all of that which you have just said above here, a literal spew of venom as the more eloquent and poetic among us in here would say, and here I will leave out definitions of your writing style so as to not get you further upset, is to define yourself, your outlook on life, your value system, your gestalt, as it were where gestalt, a noun, is defined as “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts,” which is exactly what you have presented us with here, with your writing above – a vast mountain constructed out of cob webs and mole hills.
What arrogant assumptions you make about the common people in this country, of whom I am one, with your frankly inane comment “Additionally, your use of definitions embedded in your submissions for those whom, it seems, you believe to be less than properly educated is insulting.”
Dear friend, who has only my rhetorical well-being at heart, can you make sense of that drivel?
WHO exactly is it that I am insulting in here by my practice of being razor-sharp in my argumentation by precisely defining the words I use so as to not dissemble (conceal one’s true motives, feelings, or beliefs) to whomever might be my readers, and dear friend, this being a publication in Cyber-Space, those readers are literally all over the world?
Said another and more simple and straightforward way, I intentionally disambiguate in here, a verb which means “to remove the ambiguity from; make unambiguous,” and I am sorry that that troubles you so, with my writing style, which I admit is archaic, harkening back in time as it does to the style of public writing employed by those debating the United States Constitution in 1787 and 1788, such as the William Samuel Johnson Speeches in the Connecticut Convention on January 04, 1788, to wit:
Dr. Johnson rose after Mr. Ellsworth and expressed himself to the following purpose.
My Honourable Friend has represented to us the miserable State, which we are in with respect to our public affairs.
It is a melancholy picture; but not too highly drawn.
Our commerce is annihilated; our national honour, once in so high esteem, is no more.
We have got to the very brink of ruin; we must turn back, and adopt a new system.
The gentleman’s arguments have demonstrated that a principle of coercion is absolutely necessary, if we would have a union to answer any beneficial purposes.
Or “A Landholder IV” by Oliver Ellsworth on November 26, 1787, to wit:
Several of the honorable Gentleman’s objections are expressed in such vague and indecisive terms, that they rather deserve the name of insinuations, and we know not against what particular parts of the system they are pointed.
Others are explicit, and if real deserve serious attention.
If the Hon. gentleman, in saying “there is no adequate provision for a representation of the people” refers to the manner of choosing them, a reply to this is naturally blended with his second objection “that they have no security for the right of election” it is impossible to conceive what greater security can be given, by any form of Words, than we here find.
Tho out of the order in which the Hon. Gentleman proposes his doubts, I wish here to notice some opinions which he makes.
State representation and government is the very basis of the congressional power proposed.
This is the most valuable link in the chain of connexion, and affords double security for the rights of the people.
Your liberties are pledged to you by your own state, and by the power of the whole empire.
You have a voice in the government of your own state, and in the government of the whole.
Were not the gentleman on whom the remarks are made very honourable, and the eminence of office raised above a suspicion of cunning, we should think he had, in this instance, insinuated merely to alarm the fears of the people.
You see what I am saying here, friend, as to my particular writing style, which you feel is offensive to your tastes?
Read the whole speech as I have done and see for yourself how many times he uses the term “Hon. gentleman” in there to make it clear whose ideas he was addressing, which is exactly what I do in here.
I told you that I was a simple, common person from the country without a fancy degree in English or anything like that who was self-taught like Abraham Lincoln when it comes to my letters, and those speeches are my teachers.
Who were yours that you ended up with such a different value system as mine?
And I personally think disambiguation should be the rule and not the exception in public political discussion, such as takes place in here on a daily basis, this being a modern-day Forum of Rome from the time of Cicero, and you disagree.
So be it, I am not going to engage in obfuscation (the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible) to satisfy what I think is your misplaced sense of propriety, as in “the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals,” or “the details or rules of behavior conventionally considered to be correct,” as in “she’s a great one for the proprieties.”
Who made you the rule maker in here, friend?
What makes your value system “THE” value system for ALL Americans, including myself, to have to follow?
And then you project your tastes over onto all the other readers in here as if your value system was the only possible one that could be right or proper, as in when you say “Also, the repetitive use of the names of your online discussion partners is boorish,” which you then kindly define in your gestalt, your reality as you perceive it has to be, as “A person’s, acts, manners, or mannerisms that violate in some way the generally accepted canons of polite, considerate behavior,” and “Boorish, originally referring to behavior characteristic of an unlettered rustic or peasant, now implies a coarse and blatant lack of sensitivity to the feelings or values of others.”
Did you actually think about what you were going to say before you said it, friend?
My writing style was not boorish in 1787 or 1788.
How has it become boorish today?
The candid world which follows these political discussions between American citizens would truly like to know, which is why I practice disambiguation in here, so they know, despite any language barriers, exactly what I am saying, when I say it, and to whom I am speaking, when I speak.
Personally, I call that internet courtesy in my system, which obviously upsets you so much for reasons that are obscure and therefore unfathomable to me.
Such it is and so it goes – I am too old to change, and see no reason to change based on what you have written to want to.
I like being explicit too much to stop now, despite it hurting your feelings, precisely because I have so much sensitivity to the feelings or values of others that I do not want to deceive them with words in here, as some are so adept at doing, and in a short amount of words, to boot.
As to the epitome of brevity that you are advocating for above here, friend, that would be the TWEETS of Donald Trump on TWITTTER which I think are mindless.
Is that intellectual arrogance on my part as a common American in here, do you think, friend?
And again, the candid world would like to know, just because.
Paul Plante says
And friend, you seem to be missing the dynamic in here as I see it, anyway.
This is not a suck-up-to-power rag like the New York Times or Washington Post and I am not “power” in here speaking down to the “poor” folks with my big vocabulary to insult them, and by the way, your comment about insulting people implies that you really don’t know much the “poor” folks at all in this country, if you think that my taking care to define the uncommon words I use is insulting to them.
That is how we “poor” folks out here in the countryside improve our vocabularies, afterall, by looking up the meaning of the words our betters use to talk down to us, as if we were ignorant fools incapable of rational thought.
I am the “poor” folks speaking truth to power in here and telling them, as explicitly (stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt) as I can to stop insulting our intelligence with their mealy-mouth, empty gibberish.
And what do I mean by that?
Let’s take this following letter to me from American president Barack Hussein Obama, alleged to be an intellectual, educated man, a Constitutional scholar, as an example of the high-level gibberish I am referring to:
THE WHITE HOUSE 5 AUGUST 2014
Thank you for writing, and for your service and sacrifice.
I appreciate the thoughtful messages I receive from Americans with deeply‑held views that may not always align with mine.
Dialogue on a broad range of issues is critical to moving forward in areas that matter to all of us.
When we disagree, even fiercely, it doesn’t mean we don’t each love this country and want to make it better.
As it has for more than two centuries, progress comes in fits and starts.
It’s not always a straight line or a smooth path, and recognizing we have shared hopes and dreams won’t end all gridlock, solve all problems, or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus.
But we must find common ground and make difficult compromises to reach a better tomorrow.
Again, even if we don’t see every issue the same way, I want you to know I am listening and I appreciate your perspective.
Now, friend, if true friend you are, make some sense out of that childish nonsense for me if you can, because I can’t.
It is nothing but recycled sound bites and tired clichés, and that is the mindless crap that passes for political debate in America today – inane drivel.
And being old and crotchety and from an entirely different tradition of political debate in America, I am against that.
And the thing that disappointed me the most was that in all of that, he failed to tell me to “endeavor to persevere,” which is the most presidential-sounding soundbite that I am aware of.
And so that you might better understand the crucible that formed “poor” folks like me who now dare to raise our voices to the high and mighty in here, using words as our weapons to counter the lies they try to sell us, let me take you to p.285 “The Best and The Brightest” by David Halberstam, where we find as follows:
They (the JFK administration) knew that this judgment (the military assertion that the Viet Nam war was being won) was false, but they had never challenged it, because of their own previous wishful thinking, because of their inability to control their own bureaucracy, and because, above all, of a belief that telling the truth to the American people was unimportant.
They – both Kennedys, Rusk, Lodge, Harriman, Hilsman, Trueheart, Forrestal – knew the war was being lost, but they never got it down on paper or into their own statements, or into their briefings to congressional leaders.
A lie had become a truth, and the policy makers were trapped in it; their policy was a failure, and they could not admit it.
That was 1963, friend, and back then, I didn’t have words like I do today to stand up to challenge those lies, nor was there a Cape Charles Mirror in which to do so.
So I set myself to the task of learning words with which to counter those lies, which never stopped coming despite the demise of JFK, because Washington, D.C. remains a place of lies and deceits, right up to this present moment in time.
I’m sorry of that upsets your delicate sense of propriety in here, who should be allowed to speak, and who should be kept silent, but that is the way it is, friend – I, like you, am a product of the times I was raised in, and if that troubles you, or disturbs you, or upsets you, that is yours to have to deal with, or not, because I have no desire to change my outlook on life to suit your views of what my outlook should be.
It is a democracy, afterall, or isn’t it?
So why should my voicc be less than yours?