This article appears on the Seattle Education website. It is reposted here with permission from the author.
Members of Parents Across America (PAA) have spent extensive time looking into quantities of writing and research that raise red flags about the impact of the EdTech explosion on our children. This high-pressure movement has brought a mishmash of digital devices and online and other pre-packaged programs into our schools, where they are promoted as “personalized,” “competency-based,” “student-centered,” or “self-directed” learning, terms which we refer to together as EdTech.
What we have found out about the EdTech push alarms us and should alarm any parent.
First of all, there is actually very little research addressing the many news ways that EdTech is being used in our schools — our children are truly being used as guinea pigs.
What we do know about children and screen time is based in part on new studies and in part on previous research into children’s use of television, video games and computers, which can help us anticipate some of EdTech’s health effects. And EdTech’s teaching and learning track record is not positive. Yet corporate reformers and the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are investing heavily in EdTech and putting enormous pressure on districts and schools to increase its use.
Join PAA activists and national experts to learn more about the negative effects of EdTech and what parents can do to slow down the digital learning juggernaut in your children’s schools:
Stop the Ed Tech Juggernaut
Sunday, October 16, 2016
7:00 PM EDT
- Jean Rogers: Screen Time manager for Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
- Rachael Stickland: Co-Chair, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
- Cheri Kiesecker and Emily Talmage: Nationally-known bloggers on digital learning (Missouri Education Watchdog and Save Maine Schools)
- PAA leaders Heather Hicks and Laura Bowman: Heather is the parent targeted by international digital learning conglomerate iNACOL for getting in the way of their lucrative school contract; Laura has testified before her local school board about digital learning; both PAAers helped prepare PAA’s recent extensive report on the dangers of digital learning.
How to join the meeting:
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/529296692
Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +14086380968,529296692# or +16465588656,529296692#
Dial: +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) or +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 529 296 692
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=fy2WVdkruZncsYj3KuoWyXUZ8OTi9LqS
All are invited!
For more on Ed Tech, see:
EdTech Summary Brief – summary points that reflect what we have discovered about the proven and potential problematic effects of EdTech.
EdTech Overview – The latest push from corporate “school reform” undermines parental control, student privacy, and the quality of teaching and learning
EdTech: mental and emotional effects – How EdTech may be harming our children’s mental and emotional health
Buzz words images (EdTech: Let’s call it what it really is)
EdTech: Who Benefits? – Not our children!
Ed Tech: Questions to ask — What to ask at your child’s school:http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/questionstoask.pdf
This video is very well done and makes great points. It highlights problems in our public school system, especially the current one-size fits all approach. A lot of points, issues, and possible solutions are touched on in this video and not everyone is going to agree with everything presented. There is plenty of food for thought in the video. Should we continue to expect fish to climb trees?
This article was published on the Contemporary Insurgent website on September 29, 2016 and is reposted here with the permission of the author.
The Hell of Rigor and Critical Thinking in the Age of College and Career Readiness: Administrators of Abuse and Teachers of Despair: One Father’s Experiences
By Michael Bohr, Contemporary Insurgent
I have been deeply immersed in the analysis and resistance to the Common Core Agenda for many years now.
My involvement began when my children, both of significant intellect and eagerness to learn, with a love of school, began to display a fear of, and a loathing for, public schooling.
Their behavior and attitudes changed. My once endlessly positive, relaxed and happy children became negative, stressed and saddened.
I set about working with the teachers and administrators to find solutions but I also began researching the new terminology and teaching methods I was hearing from them. I also began noticing that the homework given to my children was increasingly nonsensical as each one in turn began having meltdowns while attempting to do their work.
Something was terribly wrong and the constant barrage of “something is wrong with your child”, often spoken behind a used car salesman smile that was also preaching on about how they will make my kids “critical thinkers” and “college and career ready” for “21st century jobs” set off alarms within me.
I trusted these people… And they exploited that trust. For whatever reason, be it foul intent, ignorance or a gag order from higher ups in the education hierarchy, I and every single parent of a child in a public school, along with our children, were betrayed!
I gave many of them a pass because as I researched such documents as the “Race to the Top” grant applications and the US Dept of Educations “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance Report”, along with the personal, professional and financial ties between leading politicians, bureaucrats, charitable foundations, teacher (and non-teacher) unions and corporate enterprises, I discovered many of them had also been deceived as well.
Over the last several years, those who I spoke with and began to see the truth of the Common Core Agenda, administrator and teacher alike, were forced out of their jobs and replaced or forced to cower in silent repose, abandoning their virtue in exchange for their own survival… Or hop on the bandwagon in exchange for promotions and financial advancements.
And that leads me to today…
Among the things I began to learn through my research were such subjects as “Multiple Intelligence Theory”, educational Pedagogies, brain development, child psychology and much, much more.
Being informed on these topics now leads me to ask questions of my child’s educators and administrators that I have discovered they either don’t know a damned thing about… Or are playing stupid to avoid having to answer for their malfeasance!
Just this past week, during “Parent Night” in our New Jersey Intermediate School, the Vice Principal (once an elementary level teacher, now administrator) came and sat in during a class orientation I was attending. I was also the only parent to make it there.
He began spouting the usual lingo… Critical thinking, rigor, 21st century skills, etc,… That the Principal had cheerfully proclaimed in the auditorium an hour earlier, when all of us, the parents, were told that we must join them, joyfully, to prepare our kids for “21st Century Jobs that we (the educators) don’t know what will be”. That’s a quote.
And so I asked him if he was aware that “critical thinking” takes place in the prefrontal cortex which the children in his school (grades 5-8) will not even start to develop until their mid-teens and won’t be fully developed until their mid 20’s. Additionally, I asked (and apparently informed him) that requiring children who were not old enough to have biologically developed this part of the brain, creates extreme stress, which then activates, and negatively effects, the “primitive” substructure of the brain called the “Limbic System”. That the limbic system is where the “fight or flight” response is biologically hardwired into every human, child and adult.
I was quite positive that I had just triggered his limbic system as his eyes widened and jaw dropped ever so slightly, as his body involuntarily shifted in his seat.
His response: “I’ll have to look into that.”
As a side note, the young but veteran teacher also sitting at the table involuntarily nodded in the affirmative and seemed to barely contain a smile. That teacher was educated and knew that the words I spoke were truth and that I was not just some “helicopter parent” who could be easily snowed.
It has been a week now, since that meeting and I can only assume that one of two things are happening:
The VP is still doing his research
He knew full well that he and the school were going to continue administering this psychologically abusive pedagogy and there are meetings being held to figure out a way to avoid being exposed for what they are doing.
Perhaps it’s the former and, if so, there may be some hope.
But I doubt that… Highly!
I am convinced that, even if they despise what they are doing (perhaps being forced to do), they will continue unabated with its implementation.
That they know full well the hell and abuse of this “rigor” and “critical thinking” they are demanding, under threat of failure and peer-based humiliation for my children, will harm them whether they survive it or not.
I also believe that they will continue to blame the parents, teachers and the children, me, mine and others, for any shortcomings.
And I don’t think they care.
They will continue to administer that abuse.
They will force that teacher to teach despair, even as I know she is trying to protect her students from it… I saw that within her and in that I do retain a modicum of hope, even as I must acknowledge that she will fail, if not with my child, with many others.
In the meantime, I am left with the task of trying to save my children from these horrors and finding a way to get them through it all intact and psychologically whole.
As a single father with full custody and no support, living in the very poverty that others, specifically educators, can only talk about as an abject concept taught in the very universities my children will be denied entrance to, this is no easy task.
I am terrified by the very real, and likely prospect, that I will fail at least in part or, and God save them, fully.
I, like many of you reading this, see my children suffering every damned day… Even while they don’t always realize it themselves.
Hell is no longer just an abstract concept of Dante or religious doctrine… Hell is a place called Public Education and the Devil and his Demons are running the damned place, torturing children, parents and teachers clear down to the Ninth Circle.
May God have Mercy on us all.
-Michael Bohr, Daddy
The Parents Across America (PAA) website has some good information for parents. This posting is going to focus on some of the great information, recommendations, and questions they provide parents with regard to the use of educational technology. Here are three webpages parents should make note of:
PAA also has a School Technology Opt-Out Letter available. The letter is provided below for your use.
School Technology Opt-Out Letter
Dear Teacher and/or School Administrator,
I would like to respectfully request that all of my child’s education and educational content be presented without the use of electronic devices. This includes the use of tablets, chrome books, lap tops or desk top computers.
We wish to help nurture and support our child’s educational, social, psychological and emotional development as much as possible and have become increasingly concerned with the potential detrimental aspects of screen technologies on young children.
We understand that you, as the school, have a responsibility to present our child with state approved educational content and curriculum. We are in full agreement with that. But it is within our right as parents to ensure that the medium by which our children’s education is being presented is safe and not problematic clinically nor developmentally.
There has been a plethora of research indicating the adverse effect of electronic screens on children’s attentional, cognitive and social development if they are exposed at too young of an age. Please feel free to refer to the Website www.Glowkids.com for a full list of that peer-reviewed research.
The Parent(s) of: __________________________________________
In mid-August, Peter Greene posted an article called The Ledger: Lab Rat America on his Curmudgucation blog. His article addresses issues related to a video posted at the end of the article. You can view the video below. Prior to viewing the video, I would encourage you read Peter Greene’s article and keep in mind that the video takes you ten years into the future.
Learning is Earning 2026
Gretchen Logue has written about Greene’s article and the video at the Missouri Education Watchdog in an article called Pour Yourself a Stiff Drink and Read About ‘The Ledger’.
There may be some who think the video is portraying the cat’s meow (upon seeing a lab rat). Others are alarmed by the video because rats frighten them. There may even be some who would say this could and would never happen. Searching online for badge chain technology, blockchain technology, and ledger technology produces results that indicate the technology is already available and in use.
Greene and Logue touch on some topics/issues brought out in the video. Greene mentions “competency based education, data mining, the cradle to grave pipeline” in his article. Logue mentions data gathering, global public/private surveillance plan, digital badges, and education/workforce badging programs.
Watching the video reminded me of two things. Millennials and Marc Tucker’s Dear Hillary Letter.
In the video, Alejandra got a trophy. It didn’t really give information about what she did leading to her being awarded a trophy. It reminded me of Micah Tyler’s You’ve Gotta Love Millennials song and video where “they got trophies just for participating”.
It makes me wonder if this whole ledger/blockchain/badge chain business is a good fit for millennials. Whether it is a good fit or not, I don’t think they earn an edublock for the idea.
In my eyes, Marc Tucker is one person who would earn an edublock for his idea/plan that contributes to things incorporated in the ledger/blockchain/badge chain Learning is Earning 2026. On Nov. 11, 1992, Marc Tucker wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton that has become know as the Dear Hillary Letter. I have heard people discount this letter because it was published on the Eagle Forum’s website. The first thing one learns on this webpage is that this letter was published in the Sept. 25, 1998 Congressional Record, a source that should be credible for those who discount the Eagle Forum. As time goes on, more components of this plan seem to be put in place. In this letter, parts of Tucker’s plan include human resources development, cradle to grave system, outcome based, apprenticeship system, system of labor market boards, seamless system of unending skill development, national standards, free college education, professional and technical certificates, unified training system, computerized employment service, national examination system, large scale data management systems, and early childhood education. The development of State Longitudinal Data Systems and the Common Core (including associated assessments and data collection) put in place many elements of Tucker’s plan. According to his plan, students would get certificates for meeting standards. Certificates might equate to edublocks or badges students earn as they meet standards and progress in a system of unending skill development, all of which is recorded in a massive database, which can be used to fill workforce needs.
While it might not be as Tucker envisioned it 24 years ago, it appears as if Learning is Earning will fulfill his plan. There seem to be some details that need to be worked out but I am sure that by the time this all rolls out, it will be as well thought out as the promotion and implementation of the Common Core. Seamless, top down, error and trouble free, honest, based on evidence. Not. Learning is Earning raises some questions in my mind. I will present a few questions here. You may have additional questions.
Greene brought up some numbers since Learning is Earning mentions one billion people on the ledger. Is Greene right in thinking they may have just picked this number because it sounds cool for marketing? If that is not the case, it raises serious questions and issues. Some of those questions and issues I won’t bring up here—I will leave it for you to bring up on your own. One billion people on the ledger? That is more than the US population (322+ million) and quite a bit less than the world population (7.4 billion). One billion people on the ledger? This takes in more than just the US but not the all of the world. What about the rest of the world’s population? Is this only going to selectively apply to certain people? Who gets to decide who it will apply to? Or is there a global population reduction plan that will result in the world population only being around a billion people in 2026?
Will edublocks and the ledger be used to track the learning and income of people involved with drug cartels? Gangs? Will drug lords and gang leaders serve as teachers? Oh, they already do. What activities will their apprentices get edublocks for? Will this legitimize their business? In the future, will drug lords and lieutenants command someone to search the ledger to find someone with a skill set for an upcoming project that requires a mule?
What about senior citizens? Will those who still want to work but are currently not considered for employment because of their age be included in the ledger? What about other groups? Will the ledger consider all possible candidates on an equal basis based on their skill sets and credentials? Even those in groups often discriminated against? Or will an era of digital discrimination be ushered in? Will noncognitive factors be considered a part of an individual’s skill set and used to determine selection or not for a gig or project?
Since when has it become okay to refer to our country’s children as human capital? You should know the people using this term are interested in workforce development and not in providing an education.
Will there be another Dear Hillary Letter if she wins or will it be a Dear Bill Letter? What plan would such a letter lay out? Would the ledger/blockchain/badge chain technology be an integral part of the plan? Will the blockchain/badge chain be a part of a plan for a free college education (free to students that is, most likely paid for by taxpayers)? Maybe there are other avenues for a free college education for those who are not motivated and don’t have the self-discipline to pursue educblocks and badges on their own.