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Consider Yourself Warned

By Deb Herbage

If you were walking down the street and a stranger stopped you and asked you to hand over your driver’s license and social security card….would you?  Of course, you wouldn’t!  Those two items contain extremely personal information – YOUR personal information.  Your driver’s license has your full name, your picture, your birthdate, a unique number (in some state’s it could be your social security number), your address, your height and weight, any restrictions for driving a vehicle and even your eye color.  How about if you put your wallet down for a few seconds and a stranger snatched it, essentially stealing your information.  Wouldn’t that make you feel violated?  You would have to start the whole process of canceling your credit cards, getting a new driver’s license and possibly putting a hold on your credit.  How about if that same stranger who asked you to hand over your driver’s license and social security card in the street told you they wanted your information so they could sell it to the highest bidder.  Wouldn’t you be outraged?  Then WHY are you allowing it to happen to your child(ren)?

Schools across the country have been and continue to set up accounts for our children with a multitude of Edtech vendors.  Schools are allowed to do this under COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – set up in 1998), however, they are not informing parents and they are not seeking parental permission to do so – especially for minor children under the age of 13.  Parents are completely unaware this is happening.  In most cases, schools are instructing kids to click “I Agree” when they set these accounts up, bypassing parental permission and essentially allowing these Edtech companies to collect and mine massive amounts of data from our kids.  Data they do not have permission to take from parents but do from schools.   Please know, this data is not restricted to when your child is using the application/software/program at school……when kids come home from school and log in to complete homework assignments or study…..the data is flowing from your home computer/iPad/device to the Edtech company.  Your IP address is considered personal information because it is specific to you – that is just one of the over 50,000 data points being collected by the Edtech companies.  Under the new GDPR – that would be a fineable offense.  The data being collected is not being protected.  Here is an article from 2012 detailing the worst offenders of privacy violations – Privacy Hall of Shame – Microsoft, Google, and Facebook – who all own Edtech companies and push for data collection:  https://www.networkworld.com/article/2185187/security/15-worst-internet-privacy-scandals-of-all-time.html

I looked into just one of the Edtech companies my daughter’s school chose to use and set up accounts with on her behalf, without my permission or even acknowledgment, and I was horrified at what I read.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH).  There are many more she is being forced to use where accounts were set up for her.  I read the privacy policy for HMH and this is what I learned about the school setting up my daughter’s account without my permission from HMH’s privacy policy. They state that I consented to:

  • I consent to having private information collected and stored which will be shared with third party vendors and “others”.
  • I consent to HMH using and sharing our information and data and “other activities”.
  • I consent to them using our and my daughter’s personal information, demographic information and usage information for a “variety of purposes”.
  • I consent to tracking technologies that collect and store information for a “variety of purposes” whether my daughter is at home or at school.
  • I consent to their tracking technologies which include, without limitation, these methods: cookies, web beacons, embedded scripts and entity tags which they will, from time to time, supplement with information they collect directly from my daughter with outside records from third parties.
  • I consent to them collecting personal, demographic, and usage information from my daughter for internal business purposes such as troubleshooting, data analysis, testing and service improvement.
  • I consent to them using, sharing and disclosing my and my daughter’s name, voice, likeness and other personal information that is part of the “user content” for advertising, marketing, publicity and promotional items.
  • Finally, giving my consent, they can and will give my information and my daughter’s information to third parties such as network advertisers and ad exchanges such as “Behavioral Ads” and “Contextual Ads”.

I did not consent to any of that.  I was not made aware that the school or school district set that account up for my daughter.  I found out by watching her log in on her personal laptop at home to complete homework.

When I confronted my school district via an email….I was told by the IT manager that it is MY responsibility to reach out to HMH with my concerns.  It is MY responsibility to contact HMH if there are any data breaches.  The data being collected is not limited to demographic information.  The data (education records) being collected has continuously expanded since 2014 to include SEL (Social Emotional Learning) skills which include the student’s values, beliefs, “grit” and attitudes.  How is this data collected?  Through algorithms.  Algorithms that lack transparency that are created to obtain specific information.  Algorithms that a lot of times are inaccurate.  You can read about this in this extremely well-documented article by Cheri Kiesecker.  http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/are-schools-allowing-edtech-software-to-map-every-online-click/

This information and data, which are considered “education records” are being collected and sold to the highest bidder.  https://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2017/08/sold-highest-bidder

Some responsible school districts are offering Opt-In forms to parents.  These school districts are seeking parental permission for their child to participate in and use Edtech software/applications/programs. Here is an example of a responsible school district Opt-In form: http://www.swasd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Coppa-Combined-Forns-2017-18.pdf

Parents, I cannot urge you strongly enough to look into what Edtech companies your child is using and read their privacy policies.  Look into what your school district has consented YOU to and what accounts have been set up for your child.  Many of these companies’ programs/software/applications are experimental.  Pearson, one of the education titans, was found to be embedding “social-psychological” experimental software in student’s educational and learning software.  https://gizmodo.com/pearson-embedded-a-social-psychological-experiment-in-s-1825367784   Many of the applications our children are using fail to protect their data. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/07/27/we-tested-apps-for-children-half-failed-to-protect-their-data/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c64b9167b1a6

Thousands of Edtech applications/programs/software are improperly and illegally tracking children.  Another well researched and well-documented article by Cheri.  http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/bombshell-study-thousands-of-educational-apps-are-improperly-tracking-children/

Tech “titans” are unrestricted, unregulated and profit off the backs of many unsuspecting parents and children.   It is a datapalooza free-for-all at the expense of our children.  You may not see any repercussions now…..but I can assure you – you will at some point in your child’s life.

If you feel violated after knowing someone stole your wallet containing your personal information or you experienced a data breach with your medical records, why are you allowing Edtech companies to violate your children?  Why are you allowing schools and school districts to set up accounts for your children without your permission or consent?  Why are you allowing your minor child(ren) to be continuously data mined?

How do we stop the data mining?  By not collecting it in the first place.  By being vigilant and protecting our children.

Consider yourself warned.

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Gates Is Gearing Up to Conduct Yet Another Experiment on Our Kids – This Time with Zuckerberg

By Deb Herbage

Bill Gates has taken on the role of reforming our public schools across the U.S.  He is a self-proclaimed education reformer using his foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and his wealth to fund what he believes our children should be learning, how they should be learning, how they should behave, and what their career paths should be.  Parents do not get any say in what is happening in their local public schools.  Their local schools that their tax dollars support.  Nor do they have any say in what experimental research, experimental curriculum, experimental tests or experimental software and programs their children are a part of.

Gates has spent close to 20 years attempting to reform our public schools.  The most recent and most despised and talked about attempt was the illegal implementation of the Common Core State Standards which was forced into our public schools in the 2014-2015 school year.  Illegal because it was mandated by the federal government under the Obama Administration by then Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  The federal government does not have the legal authority to dictate education policy or standards in the individual states, yet it happened.  The federal government dangled the Race to the Top funding carrot in front of the cash starved states for compliance.  The result was the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) followed by the complete rewrite of the curriculum and standards in each and every state.  Which then, of course, was followed by the complete rewrite of the state standardized tests for each state.  Another windfall for the testing companies with the double and triple digit million dollar state testing contracts.  Very lucrative business considering the CCSS is copyrighted.

On June 2, 2016, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued a press release – their annual letter – stating their Common Core “idea” didn’t go off as planned. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/06/02/gates-foundation-chief-admits-common-core-mistakes/?utm_term=.9f2349d16955  This is just one of many failed Gates experiments.  Considering Gates completely funded Common Core and is a partner  – he will continue to benefit financially. https://web.archive.org/web/20100115190046/www.corestandards.org/

 “Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards. We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators – particularly teachers – but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.

This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.”

“This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb….”  A challenging lesson for THEM to absorb?  What about the millions of school children – OUR CHILDREN – across the country who had to deal with the developmentally inappropriate curriculum?  What about the massive disruption to their learning?  The extreme stress and anxiety they put our kids through?  What about the kids who were incorrectly labeled failures and either held back or denied diplomas?  We can’t get those lost days back. “Oh Well.”  Our kids suffering meant absolutely nothing to them.   Yet, that doesn’t stop them from the continuous interfering in our public schools. With  the interfering of the education of our kids.  There is no remorse for the detrimental outcomes and profound destruction his failed experiments cause other than an “oops”.  When Gates backed Common Core, he stated  “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”  A decade.  10 years.  Our kids don’t have 10 years to see if “the education stuff worked”.  Our kids go through their educational years once.  They don’t get a do over because Gates ideas are a failure.  Gates’ own children did not attend schools that taught Common Core.  Why is it okay for our children to be subjected to Common Core but not his own?  That fact alone speaks volumes.  Our public schools, teachers and kids have to pick up the pieces and move on from the destruction and chaos Common Core wreaked on our schools.  Gates never had the consent or buy-in of parents and teachers across the country.   His wealth is how and why Common Core was put in place.  There are far too many philanthropists waving their money around buying their way with our elected politicians at the federal and state level.   That is shameful and disgraceful.  Zuckerberg is another education philanthropist whose “education stuff” hasn’t worked either.

And yet here we go again.

This time Gates is teaming up with Zuckerberg to experiment on our kids.  http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/researchanddevelopment/

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One of the elements of this new experiment request for information (RFI) is for “Measuring & Improving Executive Function”.  http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/index.php?pdf-file=1&filename=wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Program-Description_-Executive-Function.pdf  Executive function?  Our kids thoughts, actions and behaviors?

Here is what Gates/Zuckerberg wrote in the RFI:  “Problem:  Student success in academics and in future careers is associated with their ability to wrestle with multiple ideas at once, think flexibly, and regulate their actions and thoughts. These skills describe the basic executive functions (EFs) of working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. Strong childhood EFs predict higher socio-economic status, better physical health, and fewer drug-related problems and criminal convictions in adulthood.”

Gates and Zuckerberg are now setting up to experiment on our kids’ “executive function” (EF).  Our kids’ “executive function” is seen as a “problem” by Gates/Zuckerberg.   They want to collect and gather data on our kids (children and young adults) executive functioning in academic and non-academic settings in and outside of school.

We are requesting information about the current state-of-the-art approaches for the topic areas below and bold ideas for advancing these capabilities in 10 years by creating effective methods for evaluating and improving executive functioning.”

10 years.  Another decade……just like Common Core.   What private and personal information are Gates and Zuckerberg looking for from our kids?  What exactly are they looking to “improve upon”?  Who is giving the authority to them to gather this sensitive data from our children?  Who gives them the authority to experiment on our kids’ thoughts, actions and behaviors?  What is their end goal? Their combined wealth is what gives them the authority.  No one can or will turn down that kind of money.  It makes no difference to the elected officials, legislature, superintendents, governors, school boards, etc.  how this could damage or impact our kids……all they see are the dollar signs.

Gates and Zuckerberg have taken on the roles of oligarch, self-serving, autocratic, total authoritarians when it comes to our kids and their education.  With their quest to stay ahead of their competition, they have absolutely no remorse for the trail of devastation and destruction their failed experiments leave behind.  Sweep it aside and move on to the next one.  Their goal is not to provide a free, appropriate, high quality education to our kids.  It is to increase their profit margins and be one step ahead of their competition.  What better way to find lab rats for their experiments than to perform their experiments on the school children in public schools across the country without parental consent or knowledge.

You can help your kids not become another pawn for Gates and Zuckerberg’s failed experiments by asking questions.  Becoming more involved in your child’s education can and will help them.  Ask questions!  Tell your child’s school they do NOT have your consent to use experimental software /applications/programs on your child and they do NOT have your consent for your child to take part in any surveys or answer any personal questions whatsoever.  Teach your child to advocate for themselves.  That is the best gift you can give to your child.

Parents need to put a stop to their kids being used as guinea pigs and lab rats to these plutocrats.

Are you willing to sacrifice your child’s education for another failed experiment?  Are you willing to wait 10 years to see if Gates/Zuckerberg’s “education stuff” works?  We can’t lose another generation of children to these failed education experiments!

Time to step up to the plate and say NO MORE.

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FACEBOOK/CAMBRIDGE ANALYTIC NOTHING COMPARED TO STUDENT PROFILING HAPPENING IN OUR SCHOOLS

by John Eppolito & Deb Herbage

I have had the great fortune to meet and work side by side with many excellent and dedicated education activists and advocates over the past 5 years.  One of them, John Eppolito, from Nevada had this to say after the shocking Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story:

“More parents are beginning to understand the dangers of schools, states, and third parties; collecting, storing, sharing, and analyzing student data.  What just happened between Facebook (FB) and Cambridge Analytica is nothing compared to what’s happening to our children, by design, in Nevada, public schools and across the country.

Starting in kindergarten anything your child does in school may be documented in INFINITE CAMPUS (IC) without your consent.  To view the most sensitive, subjective, medical (including psychiatric), and discipline data in student’s IC accounts parents have to make appointments with two school officials.  Nightly, IC uploads the most sensitive data on all Nevada public school children to the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) via their System of Accountability Information in Nevada (SAIN).  The most sensitive, subjective, medical, and discipline data stored on our children by IC and SAIN is never deleted!  At this point we don’t have answers from the NDE, IC, or local Nevada school districts to: a) Why isn’t the data ever deleted? b) How will the data be used in the future?

If your child starts using free third party “EDUCATION” SOFTWARE typically 2nd – 4th grade the software vendors will likely be creating profiles on your child without your consent.  These profiles will likely be much more detailed than the ones Cambridge Analytica have created on Facebook users.  Many of these third-party vendors will also share your child’s data with unknown 4th parties.

If your child is issued a 1:1 DEVICE it is likely that everything your child does on that device will be tracked by Google or Microsoft, and possibly others.

If your child takes the 10 hour, computer adaptive, secret, AIR (American Institutes for Research) SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) TEST in 3rd – 8th grade consider: a) Computer adaptive means the test “adapts” as students take it, in other words student A and student B take different tests; making the SBAC an invalid assessment. b) At least during the testing window SBAC will be “monitoring” student’s social media accounts, in the name of test security. c) SBAC must share raw test data on the 10 hour test with numerous third parties including the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office and in Nevada the SAIN. d) Parents get the least amount of test data after approximately 10 hours of testing. e) Since the only ones allowed to view the test are children, we cannot be sure about this but many experts believe – the SBAC test is more of a student data mining tool for third parties than a true criterion referenced test.  Some experts believe the SBAC will create psychological profiles on students who take the test.”

Parents, the amount of information and data that has been mined and collected and continues to be mined and collected on our kids is alarming and disturbing.  What John states above in his article can be said here in Florida as well as other states.  We have raised the alarm MANY times over the past 5 years about the student data-mining taking place in classrooms across the country.  See here:  https://wp.me/p7xNkD-bj This data is being stolen from our kids without our consent or knowledge. When the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) came on the scene in 2009/2010 and the state assessments that accompanied them were given for the very first time in the 2014/2015 school year – that opened the door for a whole host of data-mining and data collection the likes of which parents have never seen.  Every key stroke and click of the mouse your child makes is tracked with algorithms.  Bio feedback data is collected via facial recognition software.  EVERYTHING is being tracked with algorithms and stored.  Ed-tech companies, corporations, think tanks, universities, colleges, non-profits, and foundations couldn’t get out of each other’s way to get their products into our schools and into the hands of our kids.  Data privacy laws?  FERPA was gutted in 2009 and then again in 2012 to allow for the sharing of our kids data.  COPPA allows schools to open and setup accounts for our children without our parental consent or knowledge.  Data is liquid gold.  Data is an extremely valuable commodity…after all…Common Core promised to collect data from “Cradle to Grave” and they are certainly accomplishing that with the SLDS’s (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) that were setup in every state.  The SLDS’s are now connected  in each state to the USDOE, the DoD, the Chamber of Commerce (to name a few – there are many more who have access) as well as the SLDS’ in other states.  Parents have not signed away their children’s privacy rights…these companies stepped in and just took the data.  And continue to do so.  Algorithms are created by people.  People that may have certain biases.  These ed-tech companies, think tanks, non-profits, foundations, et al are not only collecting our children’s private student data but also grades, test scores, disciplinary information, physical addresses, phone numbers, and also computer IP addresses and devices they log in from whether they are logging in at school or at home.  They are also collecting student mental health data as well as predictive social emotional learning data.  As Knewton declared in this video “Education Datapalooza”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr7Z7ysDluQ

they are collecting 5 to 10 million data points per day per student and that education is one of the most “data-minable” industries.  Think about this for a minute.  5 to 10 MILLION data points per student per day.

Aside from all this data collection – they have also unleashed hundreds of new programs, software, applications and websites for our kids to test and use for them.  They are using our kids as their guinea pigs and our teachers as their product development specialists.  These programs, software, applications and websites have never been used before and are experimental.  Just like the state test that was given in each state in the 2014/2015 school year when Common Core was forced into our schools.  That test was also experimental as it had never been given before and was never validated or deemed reliable.  Parents, it is time to shut down the gravy train of data collection, data-mining and data harvesting that has been going on for years without your consent or knowledge.  It’s time to stop these companies from taking what does NOT belong to them.  It’s time to stop the data-profiling of our kids using their own data against them.  Can you begin to imagine what a data profile would look like for a child entering VPK 5 years ago to today?  Remember – “cradle to grave”.  It’s time to stop these companies, ed-tech companies, foundations, universities, colleges, corporations, think tanks, non-profits, et al from profiting millions, if not billions, of dollars from our children’s data.  It’s time to put a stop to the “Facebook/Cambridge Analytica” scenario of using our children’s data for their manipulation and it is most certainly time to put a stop to the data collection and data-mining.  There is so much information out there about all the data-mining and data collection for you to research and educate yourself. You can also start by sending an email to your principal/IT director/school district asking these 5 simple questions:

  1. What specific information is being obtained by the vendor?
  2. What specific information is being shared by the vendor to other vendors and
    third parties?
  3. Who exactly has access to this data?
  4. How are parents made aware of any data breaches/hacks?
  5. Where is the data being stored? On school servers or vendor servers?

The answers may shock you like they did me.  It is extremely unnerving and alarming not knowing who has access to my child’s data and not all third party companies are held to FERPA.  Start the conversation today!  Stay tuned for more to come.

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Florida Virtual Was “Unsecure” for Over 2 Years…..FLVS Lied to the Parents, Students and Teachers Affected By the Breach

By Deb Herbage

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It’s horrendous our kids data (368,000 records) have been compromised by using Florida Virtual School (FLVS) for on-line classes, full-time classes and elective classes that our kids signed up for and used through FLVS (my own daughter included). The FL legislators mandated that ALL Florida students take an “on-line class” as part of their diploma for graduation from high school. Now we are being told that these records have been UNSECURED FOR OVER TWO YEARS.

FLVS announced the breach to the public last week. They downplayed the damage. Stating:

A statement from FLVS says the breach likely occurred between May 6, 2016, and Feb. 12, 2018, but it wasn’t reported until last Friday. The breach may have impacted more than 368,000 current and former students and up to 2,000 teachers at the school.”

FLVS says school records including students names, dates of birth, school account numbers, their usernames and passwords as well as parent’s names and emails were compromised by the breach.”

FLVS is now offering free identity protection services to students, former students and others who were impacted by the incident.”

This morning, there was further reporting about this incident. We (parents and students) are now being told that FLVS servers were UNSECURED for over two years.

Through the efforts of forensic experts, a FLVS misconfigured server was identified as the source of some of this compromised information. The data on this server was from a 2013 partnership between Leon County Schools and UCompass, subsequently purchased by FLVS. From this 2013 partnership, it was identified that some current and former teachers’ social security numbers were compromised. LCS has notified those affected current and former employees through traditional mail. While the FBI and FDLE investigations are ongoing, LCS has initiated personal identity protection, inclusive of credit monitoring, immediately for these affected parties.”

Forensic experts also identified additional student and teacher information that may have been compromised at FLVS. As required by law, Florida Virtual School has posted information about this data security incident on their website. Leon County Schools is in the process of directly notifying these teachers and students.

Although the investigations are on-going, we do believe that the scope of the breach may be substantial. We are taking this matter very seriously. We want to assure you that the privacy and security of the information in our care is one of our highest priorities”

THAT is some extremely sloppy data protection. THAT is infuriating. It’s bad enough the breach was allowed to happen in the first place but it’s completely and utterly unacceptable that FLVS was not forthcoming with the information to parents, students and teachers. FLVS lied. They lied by withholding the information of the unsecured data.  Unsecured for over 2 years.  If Leon County Schools (LCS) did not take initiative to investigate the breach and share the information with the public, we may have never known that due to FLVS’ complete incompetence and complete lack of professionalism, our data and our children and teachers data was compromised. Cyber security expert Dwayne Denny with Data Specialist Group states parents should take immediate steps to protect their children. He had this to say, “So the first thing you want to do is, if you are a parent, contact all three of the credit reporting bureaus and tell them you want to lock down your child’s account. So they can put a lock on your child’s account so that no credit can be applied to using that social security number,” said Denny”.

FLVS can release all the statements they want about the incident. The bottom line is they lied or deliberately withheld information from the public, parents, students and teachers by downplaying the breach and not being truthful with HOW and WHY the incident occurred.

Here is a reminder of who started FLVS by “Education Cyber Playground”. In his words https://www.edu-cyberpg.com/K12-Education-Business.html

2010 K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN), Ron Packard, founder and CEO of K12 Inc. is the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online school programs for students in kindergarten through high school. Neil Bush, Jeb Bush, George Bush Senior, Mrs. Bush, and President George Bush have created the education monopoly. that started in In 1999, with Ignite and included Bill Bennett for an educational venture called K12, Inc. that started with $4M of taxpayer NCLB funding !!! now going to be worth a Billion dollars!!!”

“This is how you take money from the public / the commons and into the pocket of privateers!!! This doesn’t have anything to do with education but everything to do with stealing our money.”

“Jeb Bush explains how to get all your tax money away from you and given to his friends in K12.com – Monopoly doesn’t want to have Direct Competition!”

Jeb Bush governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, vouchers, school choice man will create the education monopoly. With the help of his family. Two other Bush-supported programs – one that offers tax credits to business that help send low-income kids to private schools and another that gives vouchers to disabled students – survived the high-court ruling. Bush also expanded the Florida Virtual School, a national model for online public education. Since leaving office, Bush has promoted his reform agenda in other states. He founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education and serves as co-chair of the Digital Learning Council to support information technology and will create the education monopoly.”

This has never been about educating our kids. This is about increasing their bottom line for their investment in the education companies they setup. Jeb Bush has made a bloody fortune off the backs of our children. Jeb Bush is a millionaire because of his ‘ventures’ into education and his cunningness to divert taxpayer dollars to his bank accounts, the bank accounts of his education investment firms, his education companies and the bank accounts of his two foundations here in Florida.

Parents need to start asking questions surrounding the security of their children’s data. These data breaches from the implosion of the ed-tech market are happening more often than you know.

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Billionaire’s Are Funding Pilot Programs in Your Schools Using Our Kids as Their Guinea Pigs Without Your Consent or Knowledge – No Permission Asked or Granted

By Deb Herbage

Billionaires, Bill & Melinda Gates, Broad, Chan-Zuckerberg, Hastings, Bezos, Walton, Murdoch, Koch, et al, “non-profit” foundations, ed-tech companies, corporations and Government agencies (USDOE, DoD, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) are continuing to use our schools as their product development labs, our kids as their lab rats and our teachers as their product development specialists. This has been going on for many years but especially since the very first year Common Core was forced into our schools in the 2014-2015 school year. With the proliferation of ed-tech companies, these corporations are all lobbying to get their software, programs, websites, and applications into the hands of our kids and schools. How do they accomplish this? By way of “pilot” programs which they completely fund. Here is a sampling of some pilot programs that were approved by the FL legislators:

HB 1365 – Competency-Based Education Pilot (5 year pilot) – Approved and effective 7/1/16. 5 districts in Florida were chosen to participate in this pilot. Lake County dropped out of the pilot after claiming it was not helpful and was not “worth it”.

SB 824 – Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program (3 year pilot) – Approved and effective 7/1/17. This is for children K-2.

SB 654 – Extends the Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program which is managed by the University of Florida College of Education. The University of Florida shall evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot by measuring student academic performance (remember these are K-2). The evaluation is based on quantitive analysis of student achievement and qualitive evaluation of students enrolled (again these are K-2).

SB 732 – Renamed from the Competency-Based Education Pilot to the “Mastery-Based Education Pilot” (5 year pilot). If approved will become effective on 7/1/18. The P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School is heading up this pilot in Florida schools. The stakeholders for this pilot are local businesses and community members.

There are hundreds of pilots going on in all 67 school districts across Florida. Some of these pilots are conducted without parental knowledge let alone consent. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has poured millions of dollars into the state of Florida. $67 million to be exact from 2012 to present. Not surprisingly, Jeb Bush’s two foundations have received most of that $67 million. Here in my district, Pasco County, we have received $154,655,299.00 in grants, incentives and payments from the FLDOE, the USDOE and various foundations and universities since 2014. If Gates just gave each district $1 million dollars – they would be far better off. We received a $15 million grant from the “Mourning Family Foundation, Inc. School & Instructional Enhancements” in the 2014-2015 school year as well as $471,427.88 for “RTTT Digital Learning Support”. In the 2015-2016 school year, we received $1.2 million for “21st Century Community Learning Center” and $258,000 in the 2016-2017 school year for “2017-2020 Public Charter School Program Planning, Program, Design and Implementation”. And this year, 2017-2018, we received $408,230.53 for “Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants”. I’m not sure where that money went or exactly what it is being spent on because our district and schools are no better off than we were before the infusion of money. Here are the sponsors and backers of on-line curriculum here in Pasco County:

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Digital Promise is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and one of the biggest backers and supporters of ed-tech pilots in schools across the U.S. http://edtech.digitalpromise.org/ The data produced by your child taking part in these pilot programs to test their software, applications, websites and programs for the various ed-tech companies, non-profit foundations, corporations and agencies are being used to validate and perfect their programs, software and applications which they then sell to other schools and districts. An example of a pilot that took place and is still taking place in schools across the country is i-Ready. According to Curriculum Associates, the company that owns and sells i-Ready, they claim “Research PROVES that i-Ready can deliver transformational results for all students.” (my emphasis added). Not only is there NO research to back up this claim (I looked….and looked) they also claim that i-Ready can “accurately predict student success on Common Core assessments”. I could not find ANY research to back up that claim either other than the research they paid for in favor of their product. Considering Common Core was brand new in 2014-2015 and publishers were still frantically changing all materials over to “Common Core” branded…..that claim seems to be stretching the truth. Curriculum Associates has this to say about their product, i-Ready:

“Curriculum Associates is a rapidly growing education company committed to making classrooms better places for teachers and students. We believe that all children have the chance to succeed, and our research-based, award-winning products, including i-Ready®, Ready®, BRIGANCE®, and other programs, provide teachers and administrators with flexible resources that deliver meaningful assessments and data-driven, differentiated instruction for children.
Because we are independently owned and operated, we are able to provide the best prices so that every district, school, and educator can afford to bring top quality resources to their students. By maintaining our independence, we are able to channel our investments toward the things that really matter—like product development, research, and unmatched customer service.”

These companies are paying for the research that states their claims are true and accurate. We have heard from many parents about the horrendous experiences their children have with i-Ready. Here in Pasco County, we paid Curriculum Associates $13 million dollars for i-Ready. Here are a couple of comments from a teacher and a parent in regards to i-Ready:

“It’s a new program so there is little to no data collected yet on reliability. Our kids are guinea pigs.”

“All I know is that my daughter, in the 4th grade, read on a 4th grade level in 2nd grade never got past the 3rd grade work on i-Ready. Every time she made one mistake it threw her back to kindergarten. All it did was make her hate reading, hate the computer worse than she did and slowly destroyed all of the hard work we’d done building her confidence.”

Has your school sent a letter or email home stating your child must use i-Ready for 30 to 45 minutes a day? Your kids are taking part in a pilot that was approved for their school or district without your knowledge or consent. Our kids are being used as their lab rats to test their software, applications, programs and websites and our schools are being used as their product development labs and our teachers as their product development specialists. This is just one company. There are hundreds of pilots taking place in our schools. These ed-tech companies, corporations, non-profit foundations, universities and agencies can by-pass years of costly research, numerous iterations and trials by cutting corners and having our schools conduct these “pilots” for them. That is their “research-based” claim. In a lot of cases – the reward for participating in their pilots is a cash payout or “free” or greatly reduced pricing for their software/applications or programs. A cash payout that our kids and/or teachers certainly never see.

Here is a tweet on Twitter from March 6th by a teacher in regards to pilot programs:

“When you ask teachers to sign up for your #edtech app w/o district approval, you are likely asking them to violate board policy, state law, & FERPA -@MTebbenkamp #sxswedu” and here is another tweet in response to that tweet: “Any advice when you bring a security concern to a vendor who is unresponsive even after you direct them to all of the @usnistgov guidance on best practices for password policies? Been well over a month now trying to get XXXXXXX fix this with no luck.”

Our kids and teachers are helping these ed-tech companies and tech giants perfect their software, programs, applications and websites whether they want to or not. Parents are not being told their kids are participating in pilot programs. There is little time left for real authentic learning and teaching. Participating in these pilots is a win for the ed-tech companies…..not only do they get real-time data on their product – they also data mine our kids. Who is responsible for keeping our kids data safe? Who grants them permission to take our kids data? Our kids are not given the option to opt out. Our schools are not notifying parents of the numerous pilots going on in their schools. What cost is this to our kids? To their education? Not to mention the amount of time and effort these pilots consume. What if the software, application or program does not meet the criteria? What if after using it for a year or two the district or school decides not to purchase it? Then what? Oh well? Just bring in the next program and/or application for them to start all over with?
Parents need to start asking questions.

Parents need to know if their kids are participating in any pilot programs in their schools and if they are (chances are pretty high they are) how much time is dedicated to the pilot in place of actual learning? There are many important questions that need to be asked and answered.

Here are some Digital Promise backed pilots that you may recognize for NWEA-MAP and Achieve3000. Both also being used in our schools. http://edtech.digitalpromise.org/pilot-study-briefs/

Check with your school or district to see what pilots are being conducted and what pilot your child is being forced to participate in. What are the goals of the pilot? Who is getting the data and for what purpose? Are the pilots in compliance with FERPA? COPPA? PPRA?

They will continue to take advantage of our kids……if we let them.

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Our Kids Data and Privacy are Being Stolen……Along With Yours

By Deb Herbage
12/4/2017

Have you ever been unfortunate enough to have something stolen from you? Has someone ever broken into your car or your home? Stealing something from you and violating your privacy? I have unfortunately had my vehicle broken into. They smashed the window and stole things from my car. I remember the shock of seeing it when I first came out of work that day and once I realized what happened – I was angry. Angry that someone violated my privacy like that. I was angry and sickened. As far as the things they stole – those were all replaced…..but the violation of my privacy could never be replaced. And now, it’s happening to my daughter. And all the millions of school children across my state and across the country. There are many, ed-tech companies, corporations, government agencies, venture capitalists, foundations, think tanks, and non-profits stealing my daughter’s data. DATA THAT DOESN’T BELONG TO THEM. Data they have no right to. Data they had no permission to take. They just took it. They stole it. They have truly violated my daughter’s privacy. And that makes me angry because she is too young to understand the repercussions of what is happening to her. Here is what the dictionary states privacy is…”Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.”

Our privacy is the only thing in this world that truly belongs to us. Our privacy is our personal freedom. Not anymore.

Every time my daughter goes to school or logs on to her school website from her laptop at home, her private information, social emotional data, and extremely private and sensitive data as well as behavioral information are being collected. She is under surveillance along with all the other children in her school and across the country. Testing companies, corporations, non-profits, education app companies like Google, government agencies, venture capitalists, think tanks, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation, and other ed-tech company apps are collecting every keystroke my daughter makes, every click of the mouse she makes and the biased and manipulative algorithms are tracking what she is clicking on, what she is working on, what websites she is visiting, and in some instances my child’s facial expressions (biodata) are being captured through facial recognition software. The data being generated by my daughter should belong to my daughter……but it doesn’t. It is being collected and stored and access is freely given to the many entities I mentioned above. Not only did they take it without my permission and/or my consent they are taking it without my knowledge or my daughter’s knowledge.

Her school requires her to use many online education resources (OER), curriculum and applications as well as taking assessments, tests and/or survey’s and her data is being collected shared and sold. In some instances the school and district do not even know what data is being collected, analyzed, shared and sold. The schools put these OER’s in place as well as hand out iPad’s, laptops and Google Chromebooks to the students. Data is the new gold and a trillion dollar industry. In other words, they are making billions off the backs of our children without our knowledge and/or consent. Since the gutting of FERPA…..all of those entities now have full blown access to my child’s data and all of her classmates data …..violating my daughter’s privacy and in some cases, my privacy as well. As the CEO of Knewton so brazenly proclaimed in this video, they are collecting up to 10 million data points per day per student – http://coreconcerns.weebly.com/data-brokers/ceo-of-knewton-shares-his-vision-for-use-of-student-data.

They are violating my daughter’s privacy to make a profit. I urge you to contact your child’s school to find out what applications, software and programs they are requiring your child to use and check the privacy policies of said companies….if they even have one. Here are a couple of Google’s (Google’s Education Service Under Fire for Privacy Violations) https://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/12/01/googles-education-service-under-fire-for-privacy-violations/ or this one (…Complaint Exposes Google Privacy Concerns) https://www.recode.net/2015/12/9/11621282/when-personalized-learning-gets-too-personal-google-complaint-exposes This is just one company and their applications and devices our kids are being forced to use in school.
“A shocking new report from Gemalto found that the number of lost, stolen or compromised data records went up 164 percent in the first six months of 2017.” (emphasis theirs). This is just the education sector. https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2017/12/education-sector-data-breaches-skyrocket-2017

164%. In just the first 6 months of 2017.

“Gemalto has been tracking the data breach phenomenon for years. According to the latest Breach Level Index (BLI) report, there were 918 reported data breaches and almost 1.9 billion compromised data records worldwide in the first half of 2017. The United States has been continuously the world leader in data breach incidents. Of the 918 breaches, 801 of them occurred in the US.” Keep in mind, the below chart shows only the first half of 2017. According to Gemalto “Education made up 13% of all breaches, with an increase of 103%.” https://blog.gemalto.com/security/2017/09/21/new-breach-level-index-findings-for-first-half-of-2017/

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I invite you to take a look at the full infograph from Gemalto: http://storage.pardot.com/51442/176077/breach_level_index_infographic_h1_2017_gemalto_inforgraphic.jpg

Here is a screenshot of the bottom of Gemaltos infograph. The highest majority of the data breaches occurred in the United States. Europe and Asia/Pacific (Australia) have very strict data privacy and security laws. The United States should emulate those laws but instead, they want to further expand access to our data and our kids data.

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Are you wondering WHY they want all this data? That is another blog I welcome you to read: “Evidence-Based, Research Based, Data Sharing, Big Data, Data, Data, Data” https://wp.me/p7xNkD-2c and “Disclosure Without Parental Consent” https://wp.me/p7xNkD-26

Here is an excellent explanation of why they are stealing all this data by fellow blogger, Alison McDowell https://wrenchinthegears.com/2017/11/26/gambling-with-our-futures-big-data-global-finance-and-digital-life/

My child’s data doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to my daughter. I send my daughter to school to learn and enrich her academic studies, socialize with her classmates and interact with her teachers. I do not send my daughter to school to be under constant surveillance and tracked and certainly not to have her future pre-determined by the algorithm laden applications she uses and have her data stolen from her.

They steal her data and they continue to steal it. They have never asked my permission and have never received my consent to look at her data let alone share it or sell it.

They are violating her privacy and the sad reality is….she doesn’t even know it’s happening to her. We will not know the full repercussions of this until it’s too late. With all this surveillance and tracking…..we are heading (full speed ahead) towards living in a communist county. Our own.

Privacy is freedom. They are taking our freedom away.

It’s shameful.

Florida Legislators Think Our Kids Are Worthless

by Deb Herbage

Year after year the Florida Legislators continue to violate their oath of office by choosing to defund public education and fund for-profit, non-accountable to the tax payers charter schools thereby  not providing our kids with a FAPE as mandated by the Florida Constitution.  This year especially is the hardest to stomach.  With their bill – HB 7069 we are on the verge of having the most harmful, destructive bill ever in the past 3 years (that passed in the senate and house) get signed into law by Governor Scott.  This bill will essentially defund our public schools by giving tax payer dollars to charter schools to open the “Schools of Hope”.  Here’s the thing – the Florida legislators are NOT funding our public schools appropriately and never have  therefore not providing a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) and by doing so – they are failing the children, parents, and teachers in the state of Florida.  The Florida legislators would rather give our hard earned tax dollars to these for-profit schools whose only goal is to continue to reap profits off the backs of our kids.  The Florida legislators do not want to give the funding to our public schools to help them improve.  Instead, they want to take all our “D” and “F” schools and turn them into charter schools.  Our “failing” schools need that money to put themselves on the path to success.  It’s actually quite simple.  Give the money to the failing schools to help them improve.  Instead, the Florida Legislators have decided to give the money to the charter schools AND REPLACE our public schools.  It’s pretty pathetic that our legislators are owned by Jeb Bush and his foundations and continue to vote these harmful policies and laws into place to satisfy Bush and his foundations with their destructive loyalty to him.

The Florida legislators are using our kids as pawns in this political game they play every year.  They use our kids for political maneuvering, financial gain as well as political gain. They have no allegiance to the oath of office they took but they do have allegiance to Bush which is why we are where we are today.  Bush has worked hard since 1992 to get the charter school,  tax credits and school voucher programs up and running – not just here in Florida but across the country.  Let’s get one thing clear – charter schools are not required to take disabled students, students of color or Title 1 kids. They leave those students to the public schools with no money.   Charter schools want the elite, white kids.  Charter schools are not bound by law to accept all students like our public schools are required to do and mandated by federal laws (IDEA) to educate our disabled children.  Charter schools are not subject to the same taxation or rules our public schools are nor do they have locally elected school boards accountable to the taxpayers,  parents and students.  Here is an excerpt from an excellent blog about school vouchers from Steven Singer.  This is so worth the read -https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/school-vouchers-transubstantiate-your-cash-for-fun-and-profit/ :

School vouchers are not paid for 100% by the parent. They are paid for with an aggregation of local tax dollars above and beyond what individual parents pay in school taxes. 

In short, this is not just your money even if it’s spent on your kid. You shouldn’t be the only one who gets a say in how this money is spent. The community provided this money. The community should decide how it’s spent. At very least, the community should get a say.

 If the community doesn’t want children to be raised with a distinctly Biblical view of history and science, the community shouldn’t have to contribute to that. If individual parents want to spend their own money on that, fine. That’s your prerogative. But school vouchers are made up of public tax dollars, yet we’re removing the majority of the public from having a voice in how that money is spent.

 Moreover, traditional public schools are required not to discriminate against students. They can’t select against students based on learning disabilities, ethnicity, skin color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. And that’s a really good thing. Everyone’s money is used to pay for these schools. These schools should serve everyone.

 But private and parochial schools (and charter schools, too, by the way) aren’t held to this same standard. It’s telling, for example, that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has refused to commit to holding private and parochial schools that accept school vouchers accountable if they discriminate against children. She seems to be implying that the U.S. government will stand aside and let public tax dollars be spent to support schools that discriminate. And the reason they think they can get away with this is the cynical monetary alchemy outlined above: school vouchers are private money and can be spent any way parents want. It isn’t and they can’t.

 This is government sanctioned money laundering, pure and simple.”

Government and state sanctioned money laundering.  The ethics violations run deep in this state.  Florida legislators who are on the Senate Education  Committee and K-12 Appropriations Committee help craft, write and pass legislation that will benefit them personally and financially through their charter schools.   Rep. Manny Diaz sits on the K-12 Appropriations Committee and earns a six figure salary as Chief Operating Officer of the charter school Doral College.  House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s wife owns a charter school in Pasco County and Rep. Michael Bileca is the executive director of the foundation that funds True North Classical Academy charter.  All 3 were instrumental and key architects of HB 7069 which will essentially give millions to charter schools while taking away the desperately needed funding from our public schools to expand charter schools.  That is a massive conflict of interest and violation of ethics to vote for charter school expansion at the expense of the tax payers for their personal gain.  Their abuse of power at the expense of our kids, teachers and schools is staggering.  How can they possibly justify taking millions of dollars away from our already struggling public schools to increase their profit margins at their charter schools?  How do they think that our public schools, who have already started making cuts to teachers, media assistants and programs ahead of HB 7069 will be able to provide a quality education to our kids while handing over $140 MILLION dollars to charter schools for expansion using tax payer dollars will benefit our public school kids?  What they are doing is providing corporate welfare to the corporations and foundations that own the charter schools.  What they are doing is giving up on our kids who attend public schools.  The Florida legislators do not think investing in our kids is worth it.  Why would they not want to provide that $140 MILLION in funding to the struggling schools to help them improve?  Why would they take the greatly needing funding AWAY from our public schools?  They haven’t funded the failing schools in years…….of course they are going to remain failing schools with no funding.

Charter schools have a bad track record in Florida and across the country.  Here is a screenshot of what came up when I googled “failed charter schools in Florida”:

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The charter school industry track record in Florida is all about scams, failures and closings.  How many more charter schools are going to receive MILLIONS of dollars only to close their doors weeks or months later with no repercussions whatsoever and are not required to pay back any funding they received – especially from taxpayers. It’s horrendous the amount of money that has been wasted due to fiscal irresponsibility when we have public schools in dire need.   Here is chart that speaks volumes:

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“The federal government has spent $3.3 BILLION dollars in the past two-plus decades fueling the charter school industry that has taken money away from traditional public schools. And, as the Center for Popular Democracy has demonstrated, more than $200 million of that money resulted in fraud and waste over the past decade.”  From CMD -http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/09/12936/cmd-publishes-full-list-2500-closed-charter-schools

Remediation costs from charter high school “graduates” getting into college, but not having basic proficiency are astronomical both in terms of  economics and demoralization of students.  Education legal scholars like Robert D. Skeels have called for wealthy charter school executives and their unrelenting boards of directors to be held financially liable for the damages to both individual students, and to society at large.  The costs of putting charter greed before student need are grave.  It’s time to end the racist and classist “school choice” and “voucher” projects as well as charter school expansion pushed nationwide by Jeb Bush and his foundations.  They are deliberately crippling our public schools by under-funding them.

The Florida legislators do not think our kids are worth the investment in our public schools.  They have given up on our kids.  Why?  Perhaps because they will get a better ROI from charter schools since it benefits them personally and financially.  What better way to line their pockets under the guise of caring about our kids and wanting to provide a “quality education”.  If that were true – the Florida legislators would want to invest the money into our public schools and not give it all away to for-profit, unaccountable, non-transparent charter schools.  As if the “cradle-to-grave” data-mining under Common Core weren’t enough……charter schools are “cradle-to-cubicle” as depicted in the below picture.  Students are stationed in their cubicles for 3/4 of the school day leaving no time for interacting and socialization with their peers or teachers.

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HB 7069 is an extremely sad turn of events for this year’s senate session.  When you can’t have faith in the people you have elected to serve you – it’s time to find someone that would want that honor.

There is no honor in reaping profits off the backs of children by shutting down their public schools and turning them over to for-profit charter schools – none.

It’s disgraceful.

AIR, the FDOE and the DOE and the Lies They Told Us

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 cycleProject 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):

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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.

CharterSchoolPalooza Has Begun in Florida

By Deb Herbage

I am angry.  Angry because we are losing so much.  The Florida legislators will be voting on HB 7069 in a couple of hours and considering this train bill was put together in secrecy and negotiated out of public sight – the Florida legislators are already patting themselves on the back for their “great work” without blinking an eye as to what this trainwreck bill will do to our public schools and our kids.

Here is how we got here.

Here are The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donations to the state of Florida.  As you can see by the screen shots…..the money to Lake County Schools is for a massive CBE (Competency Based Education) pilot.  The pilot included 4 other districts but Lake County announced recently they were pulling out of the pilot due to it “not being successful” and they don’t want to waste any more time or energy on it.  Yet there is a massive campaign to put CBE in ALL our schools.  Another failed Gates experiment.  The money to Hillsborough County is the infamous “Teacher” project that was setup that turned into a disaster as well, especially when Gates himself decided it “wasn’t working” and left Hillsborough County to foot the bill (over $20M).  As a result of them NOT able to foot the bill – a lot of teachers lost their jobs.  Another failed Gates experiment.  I typed in “FL” as my search criteria and this is what came back.  Here are page 1 and 2 of that search below.  Here is the link to the Gates Foundation if you want to review these yourself or see what he gave to your state and who took the money:  http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database

Page 1:

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Page 1 (cont’d.):

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Page 2:

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Page 2 (cont’d.):

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Interestingly enough, what did not come up in my “FL” search was this:

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FADSS is the Florida Association of District State Superintendent’s.  Senator Bill Montford (ex superintendent) is the President.  So remember this when the legislators are in Tallahassee are supposedly doing battle for our kids……we are looking at a horrendous and calculated funding nightmare here in Florida today.  HB 7069 is being voted on today by the legislation.  This blog will probably be out after the vote but it’s pretty evident what the outcome will be.  They released the 278 page bill on Friday night, 5/5/17 with no time (as usual) for the public to have any say or the other senators voting on it to read it.  If/when this bill passes – Florida is looking at funding that hasn’t been this low since the Great Recession.  In 2007 our kids were getting $4,163.47 per student – in 2017 our kids will get $4,133.64 per student.  That is $29.83 less than in 2007.  HB 7069 will allot $50 million to 4,269 PUBLIC schools and $50 million to 632 CHARTER schools.  THAT is a huge discrepancy in itself and it’s sinful.  A huge thank you to Kathleen Oropeza  from Fund Education Now for those numbers!!   Here is the link to her blog:  http://fundeducationnow.org/tell-senate-vote-no-hb-7069-worst-list-education-policies-ever/

The Florida legislators will do exactly what Jeb Bushes Foundations (FEE and FFF) wanted to be done.  More funding to for-profit charter schools that have zero transparency and cut off the funding to our public schools.  They are slowly privatizing education in the state of Florida and across the country.  It’s no secret that Bushes Foundations wrote the bills that Senator Flores and Senator Stargel submitted.  Shame on them.  Shame on all of them for what they are doing to our kids.   CharterSchoolPalooza has begun.  Here is something I copied from the Florida Statute page (www.flsenate.gov) in regards to charter schools in Florida:

196.1983 Charter school exemption from ad valorem taxes.—Any facility, or portion thereof, used to house a charter school whose charter has been approved by the sponsor and the governing board pursuant to s. 1002.33(7) shall be exempt from ad valorem taxes. For leasehold properties, the landlord must certify by affidavit to the charter school that the lease payments shall be reduced to the extent of the exemption received. The owner of the property shall disclose to a charter school the full amount of the benefit derived from the exemption and the method for ensuring that the charter school receives such benefit. The charter school shall receive the full benefit derived from the exemption through either an annual or monthly credit to the charter school’s lease payments.

History.—s. 1, ch. 2000-306; s. 27, ch. 2002-1; s. 909, ch. 2002-387; s. 16, ch. 2003-1.

 

If you are not familiar with ad valorem taxes – they are real estate property taxes.  That is just one of many, many incentives for senators and politicians to own their own charter schools or to become the landlord or lease holder of their own charter schools to pay themselves the rent while escaping the scrutiny and transparency our public schools have.

We know what FADSS is but I had never heard of the “Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, Inc.” so I looked them up.  Here is the main screen:

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Here is what came up when I clicked on “Connect With Your Local Education Foundation”:

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I have seen the license plates but where is that money going?  It certainly is not making an “impact” on our classrooms or helping our kids like it states above.  When teachers are told they cannot even buy pencils……that’s a problem.  Where is this money going?  I have a pretty good idea where the money is going.  New magnet schools have opened this year in almost every district/county.  We got 2 in my county.

They did NOT get our parental permission to conduct these massive experiments on our kids (CCSS – Common  Core State Standards and CBE – Competency Based Education).  Bill Gates himself stated they would not know if this “works” for 10 years.  Here is an extremely fitting meme from a friend and fellow activist Denis Ian:

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Florida took Gates’ money which also helps fund Jeb Bushes foundations.   Gates has funded Common Core, CBE, VAM and the teacher experiment in Hillsborough to the detriment of our kids and our teachers and schools in Florida.  When does it end?  It will end when CBE is fully installed in our schools (even though it’s a failure with no proof of concept that it works) and our schools are no more.  Even FADSS took the Gates money.  It is inescapable.  The people who have taken the Gates money that are supposed to be looking out for our kids interests are suddenly being silenced by the money.  Silenced and manipulated.  We cannot even trust our own senators and legislators to watch out for our kids’ best interests.  This money is doing extreme harm and no good.  Not only are they deliberately under funding our schools – they intend to implement some policies that have never been discussed publicly.

The privatization of our public schools has begun.  CharterSchoolPalooza has begun in the state of Florida.

Bill Gates’ kids are not subjected to Common Core, CBE pilots, VAM or teacher experiments.

Why should ours be?

Parents, Teachers and “Stakeholders” …..We Have Been Duped and Lied To – Part 2

Deb Herbage

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In Part 1 I wrote about AIR and mentioned the article written by Matthew Gringo’s from the Brown Institute at the Brookings Institute.  Here is another excerpt from his article:  “It is still too early to tell whether these kinds of collaborations will be successful on a broad scale, but an ambitious experiment with student assessments has been under way since shortly after most states adopted the new standards. In September 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a total of $330 million in grants to two groups of states: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).” (emphasis added).  And this:  “Florida’s governor announced his desire for Florida to end its role as PARCC’s fiscal agent and to consider all available assessment options. 22 I estimate that losing Florida would add another 63 cents to the per-student test cost, bringing it to $30.72.” (emphasis added).   In the AIR/SBAC contract they specifically state the test will be less expensive thus saving the states and taxpayers money.

The SBAC “partnered with AIR” and AIR wrote the test for the SBAC as well as delivered the test.  SBAC is AIR.  Remember this article was written in October 2013.  Here is another excerpt to consider:  “beginning with the 2014-15 school year, when the new tests will be administered to all students for the first time.” (emphasis added).   First time?  That would make this an experiment again without parental consent or acknowledgement.   They are using our kids as their lab rats to test the standards, tweak them and validate the tests themselves which are developmentally inappropriate which in turn is failing our kids in every state using them.  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Standardized-Testing-and-the-Common-Core-Standards_FINAL_PRINT.pdf

Here are some comments of the SBAC/AIR test from teachers in New Hampshire:

1. Shockingly negative experience.
2. Totally grade level inappropriate; difficult even for some teachers with advance degrees.
3. Seems the test was designed more as a psychological or sociological experiment, not as a measure of academic learning. Who created this test, anyway? It couldn’t have been by professional educators.
4.This would be a crushing emotional experience for my students.
5. It is nothing less than child abuse for my special ed students in my classroom.
6. I refuse to administer thus test to my students.
7. We’re going to collect up our comments and make sure it gets to the State.

Here is an excerpt from the West Virginia AIR/SBAC contract:

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Also from the West Virginia AIR/SBAC contract.  Here is the proof that SBAC is AIR:

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I would like to share with you now my findings after reviewing MANY state contracts whether it be SBAC, PARCC, AIR, MI (Measurement Inc. – tied to AIR), Questar (tied to AIR), DRC (Data Recognition Corp. – tied to AIR), ETS (Educational Testing Services –  also tied to AIR) or one of the many other “testing” companies your state may be using.  One thing is for certain – they (PARCC and AIR/SBAC) have made millions if not billions with the three and two digit million dollar state testing contracts they signed with approximately 45 states which brings in our investors, venture capitalists, think tanks, ed-tech companies, corporations and politicians.  The states that did sign on with the newly created “testing consortium” also had to sign MOU’s (Memorandum of Understandings) and pay a membership fee based on how many students they were testing in addition to the per-student cost of the test which ranged anywhere from $22.50 to $30.72 per student.   The membership fees were charged to sustain the consortia.  In the state contracts – they claim the cost of testing would be greatly reduced.

After all as Matthew Gingos states in his article “It is still too early to tell whether these kinds of collaborations will be successful on a broad scale, but an ambitious experiment with student assessments has been under way since shortly after most states adopted the new standards.” https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Standardized-Testing-and-the-Common-Core-Standards_FINAL_PRINT.pdf   Experiment???? Did they get parental permission to use our kids for their experiment?

Here is an excerpt from the AIR/SBAC contract 14-652, page 891 of the executed contract with the Florida DOE Technical Report.  This contract was executed by Pam Stewart who was appointed to the position of Commission of Education by Governor Scott and is one of the “chiefs” for CCSSO.  Scott pulled Florida out of the PARCC consortium after the angry parents, teachers and constituents complained about “Common Core” so Florida switched to AIR/SBAC.  AIR/SBAC admits they construct technical reports for other states.  Also, all the AIR/SBAC contracts I have reviewed have the same language and verbiage in them.  Some are word for word.

This is from the AIR/SBAC Florida contract:

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As part of the AIR/SBAC state testing contracts – the states that did not have “TAC” or Technical Advisory Committees were mandated in the contracts to set them up like West Virginia.

Here is Delaware’s AIR/SBAC Technical Report or TAC Report – Volume 4 Evidence of Reliability and Validity for their EOC’s:

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And Florida’s – Volume 4 Evidence of Reliability and Valdity,  AIR specifically states over and over in the contract the grades will be used to “infer” mastery of the content.  Our kids are their Guinea Pigs to unleash their test on our kids to help “assess, tweak and validate” their test without parents knowing.  The TAC reports are full of highly scientific statements and sentences with scientific formula’s deliberately putting off the parents that read the reports.  As usual – they think that by filling the pages with “fluff” that will make parents think the test must be accurate. because it’s so “scientific”.  Far from it.  The test was not “valid” when they gave it to our kids and still is not valid today (3 years later).  They (AIR/SBAC/PARCC, etc.) will not release the test to be “peer-reviewed” by outside psychologists.  Our kids are/were their Guinea Pigs to unleash their test so our kids could/can help “assess and validate” (THAT is in the contract) their test without parents knowing.

This is Florida’s Volume 4 Evidence of Relability and Validity – Table of Contents:

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Here is Delaware’s AIR/SBAC TAC Report – Table of Contents for Level 4 Evidence of Reliability & Validity:

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And here is Florida’s AIR/SBAC Report – Table of Contents for Level 4 Evidence of Reliability & Validity:

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And here is Delawares Level 1  AIR/SBAC Annual Technical Report:

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And here is Florida’s:

 

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Here is Delawares’s Volume 1 Annual Technical Report Table of Contents:

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And here is Florida’s  Level 1 AIR/SBAC  Annual Technical Report Table of Contents:

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Are you seeing the duplication?  AIR/SBAC is producing the same exact reports for the respective states they have the testing contracts for.  It’s the same for North Dakota, West Virginia, Oregon, Delaware, Washington, New Hampshire, Alaska, Connecticut and Florida as well as the PARCC contract I have.  Florida was one of the first states to adopt the Common Core thanks to Jeb Bush and his foundations.  Florida’s total 3 year contract with AIR is $322 MILLION dollars.   North Dakota is paying the consortium $166M plus:  “In addition to the more than $28 million announced today, the Recovery Act has provided $166,824,509 in funding North Dakota.”  AIR/SBAC is just changing the name of the state and test like I did in this blog.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the West Virginia contract pertaining to test security.  Test security has its own section in every contract I reviewed.  Test security is of the utmost concern to AIR/SBAC and even mention keeping “the project on its critical path”.  What “project”?  Is this not a test?  Why would it be referred to as a “project” in all the contracts I read, ESPECIALLY when you have a psychological, socio-behavioral company writing this test that NO ONE can see.  What is on those tests that they do not want parents, teachers or school administrators to see?  What is the “critical path” mentioned repeatedly in the Florida contract.  The most shocking thing is they actually admit in the West Virginia contract that the same test will be used across the US and given to ALL students in ALL states.  This is also in the Florida, North Dakota and Delaware contracts as well.

AIR/SBAC are just changing the name of the state and test like I did in this blog.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the West Virginia contract pertaining to test security.  Test security has its own section in every contract I reviewed.  Test security is of the utmost concern to AIR/SBAC and even mention keeping “the project on its critical path”.  What is on those tests that they do not want parents, teachers or school administrators to see?  In all the contracts I have reviewed – EVERY contract has skey contact person handing the phones calls and/or emails sent for/from  “angry parents”.  What is the “critical path” mentioned repeatedly in the Florida contract.  The most shocking thing is they actually admit in the West Virginia contract that the same test will be used across the US and given to ALL students in ALL states.  This is also in the Florida, North Dakota and Delaware contracts as well.

From the West Virginia AIR/SBAC contract:

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From the Florida AIR/SBAC contract 14-652:

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Here in this statement from the West Virginia contract – AIR actually admit they are SBAC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

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AIR/SBAC is doing the same thing I just did.  I copied and pasted excerpts from the AIR/SBAC Delaware contract, the AIR/SBAC Florida contract, the West Virginia AIR/SBAC contract and the North Dakota contract.  I just changed the name of the state – just like AIR/SBAC is doing.  From what I can gather from all the state contracts I have – including PARCC – they are giving all the states the same “TAC” report as well as the same test but just changing the name of the state.  This is the biggest deception I have ever witnessed not to mention the malfeasance and abuse of taxpayer dollars for the 2 and 3 digit million dollar contracts to the “testing consortium” that it is using the same test for children across the country.

Parents, teachers, students, school officials – we have been duped and we have been lied to.  I have posted the proof of this.  Our kids are being used in this massive experiment.  I have 11 state contracts in my possession and will be happy to share if anyone wants to reach out and contact me.

Common Core State Standards and the respective state test that goes along with it are all the same in every state.  It doesn’t matter what state you are in.  Their deception is being exposed.  This is shameful and harming our kids not to mention – they are “experimenting” on our kids. No wonder the test is not sound or pedagogically acceptable.  Parents  – its time for action because our kids need us know more than ever.  We have been duped and lied to.