By Deb Herbage
American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research companies. It’s no secret that AIR has bid on and won many of the triple digit state testing contracts including the Florida state testing contract for the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) which comes with a hefty price tag of $320 MILLION dollars….so if their “specialty” is “behavioral and social science” research then WHY are they writing “academic” tests? Well, perhaps these tests are NOT academic in nature. If we are to believe the very few who have actually seen the test and the screenshots we have of the test……then we are to know – it is not really academic in nature but more psychological. Here is what the AIR website states on the “About Us” page of their website (http://www.air.org/about-us). It’s important to read this:
“AIR is one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations. Our overriding goal is to use the best science available to bring the most effective ideas and approaches to enhancing everyday life. For us, making the world a better place is not wishful thinking. It is the goal that drives us.”
AIR was founded in 1946 by John Flanagan during WWII. Here is an excerpt on Flanagan from Dr. Karen Effrem’s research on Flanagan from the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/news/2015-01/air-founder-involved-racial-eugenics-experiments/):
“AIR founder John C. Flanagan, was the chief psychologist involved in eugenics experiments via an organization called the Pioneer Fund, which greatly supported and promoted Nazi eugenics experiments during the 1930s and 1940s, such as paying for a film called “‘Eugenics in Germany,’ the Nazi film that had been distributed for viewing by [U.S.] high-school students.” Pioneer Fund founding president Harry Laughlin said, “[w]hen education is expected to result in practical long-time race betterment, the moving picture in the school offers a profitable medium for presenting facts.” Flanagan was described by a Pioneer Fund board member as “a psychologist, trained … when the new psychological weapons were developed.”
Flanagan summarized the work of the Pioneer Fund this way in his proposal for first major research project – the eugenics experiment involving the birth rates of U.S. Army Air Corps pilots in the 1930’s when African Americans were not allowed to be pilots:
“My understanding is that the fundamental purpose for which the Pioneer Fund was created is the improvement of the human race. The general method chosen to further this end is to secure an increase in the birth rate among superior groups.“(Emphasis added).”
AIR has conducted two major “experiments” that we know of – The Social Genome Project which was created to leverage digital traces in various government data systems to collectively capture the social genome, the footprints of our society such as healthcare, economics, education, employment and welfare. The Social Genome Project collects and measures data on children through their life cycle. Project Talent in 1960 was a massive survey of over 400,000 high school students. Through Project Talent – Flanagan created the PLAN or Program for Learning in Accordance with Needs which was an entire curriculum from grades 1 through 12. AIR had permission from the participants in both of their experiments/studies. Do either of these “experiments” sound familiar to you? If not, they should because AIR is conducting another experiment – this time – right in our own backyards WITHOUT PARENTAL PERMISSION called Common Core State Standards.
We need to back up a bit though for you to fully understand this. Back in 2009, ALL 50 states were mandated to setup the SLDS or Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems in preparation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) rollout. While those SLDS’ were being setup – there was something else taking place. The creation of the federally funded and federally mandated “Testing Consortium” which was Pearson or PARCC and SBAC or AIR. At that time – we still had Arne Duncan as the Secretary of Education. SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) wanted us to believe they were a complete and separate entity on their own. That couldn’t be the furthest from the truth. AIR immediately “partnered” with SBAC and became SBAC. AIR also partnered with or control some of the other testing companies that have won the triple digit state testing contracts.
AIR has collected massive amounts of data on our kids through the illusion of a “test” without parental consent, knowledge or permission. It’s not just happening in Florida. Any state that is using AIR, ETS, SBAC, MI, DRC or Questar (I probably left a couple out) are in essence – using AIR and AIR is heavily linked to all of our government agencies including the DOE.
This is where all of this gets tricky. People say “follow the money” so I did. We did. It is a very convoluted web they wove but CCSS was heavily backed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jeb Bush and his foundations and many, many other foundations, corporations, universities and investors. It was an ingenious plan actually……sell the states the same test but just change the name of the test for whatever state was purchasing it. They sold the states the same exact test and the same exact reports and just renamed them.
I downloaded the Florida FSA state testing contract between AIR and the FDOE. I didn’t stop there. I also reached out to other states and asked them to send me their state contracts whether it be AIR, ETS, SBAC, MI, DRC, Quester, etc. and did a comparison. ALL of the contracts I looked at contained the same exact language almost verbatim and in a lot of cases verbatim. They just changed the name of the test. Here is a sampling of a side by side comparison I did with screen shots of the Florida Technical Advisory Committee report and the Delaware Technical Advisory Committee report (remember – I have the contracts for 11 states tucked away safely on 4 flash drives):
If any of these images are blurry or you would like a copy of the actual pages – please let me know.
The reason I chose the TAC reports to show you is because as I was going through the state testing contracts (which was no easy feat considering the FL contract alone is over 2,000 pages) I kept coming across the fact that if the state didn’t already have a TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) then they were mandated to set one up as per the terms of the contract like Delaware, Nevada and West Virginia. It didn’t take me long to realize what they were doing once I was able to put the documents side by side after many hours of research and cutting and pasting. They are taking triple digit millions from the states for the same test and the same reports – just renamed to whatever their state calls it. Without the contracts…..one would remain ignorant to this fact.
They lied to us.
This has NEVER been about helping our kids. This has been about data mining, collecting data and having power and control over what our kids are taught, what are kids are told to believe, how our kids are to behave and how they are expected to perform in the workplace. That’s right – the workplace – remember….there are a LOT of companies and corporations invested in this as well that want submissive workers that can’t think for themselves but can follow orders. Sounds crazy…..right? You know that old saying “the proof is in the pudding”….well I have the pudding. These tests are not academic in nature and provide no learning gains at all. These tests are psychological tests meant to understand how our kids think and feel or their “social emotional” state which is exactly WHY the state of Florida took over a year to return the “test” results to the parents. And after waiting and entire year (our kids had moved on to the next grade by then) we finally got a “report” that had my daughter’s name on it and the supposed achievement level (a 5 – the highest). That was it. That is what our $320M investment in education bought for us. Absolutely insane. So we now opt out of the test and pretty much anything and everything I don’t approve of like the survey’s, health questionnaires, etc.
AIR, the FDOE, the DOE, Jeb Bush, Bill Gates and a plethora of others have lied to us. They set this extremely well thought out, calculated and methodical plan into motion. They are reaping financial windfalls at the expense of our kids while our kids are suffering under this non-vetted and unvalidated curriculum and tests. These are years we will never get back. Ever. So think about that when you are trying to explain the ludicrous and un-pedagogical sound CCSS tactics to your child during homework time while tears are streaming down their face.
It’s not just testing…..AIR has teamed up with LOTS of government agencies, corporations, foundations, non-profits, universities, investors, ed-tech companies, etc. for the next big things in education– measuring SEL (Social Emotional Learning) which is extremely subjective in nature and CBE (Competency Based Education) that is their big plan to defund our public schools so they can put a computer or tablet in front of your child for the rest of their school lives. Can you imagine that? Even though the experts say kids do NOT learn best this way – doesn’t matter to them one bit – they are forging ahead. Again, with their unproven, unsuccessful, and unvalidated plans for our kids. Just take a look at AIR’s website if you can stomach it.
Feeling helpless? Please don’t – it’s never too late. You can join your local state or district Opt Out group as it has become a national movement. Opting out of the test helps protect our kids against the data mining and data collection….some of it.
They took something that doesn’t belong to them without our permission. They have stolen data from our kids. Data that can never be returned. We don’t even know the ramifications this will have on our kids until it’s too late. Perhaps it’s when they apply for college or their first car loan. Maybe it will be when they apply for that first job or mortgage. We won’t know until it happens and by then, it will be too late.
As a parent, I am NOT okay with this and you shouldn’t be either.