June 22, 2016
We continue to marvel at the imperial sense of entitlement and cluelessness of Big Data in thinking both that they deserve sensitive personal student and psychological data without consent and that parents are "afraid" of student research. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Effrem's latest privacy article posted on The Pulse 2016 in rebuttal to this Brookings Institute attorney titled Memo to Big Data: Parents Are Furious -- Not Fearful -- About Data-Mining:
Perhaps we can clarify reality for Ms. Leong. First, parents are not fearful, they are furious. That's why parent groups joined together to sue the Gates/Murdoch/Carnegie cloud database system called inBloom, successfully bringing down the multi-million-dollar venture. Yes, parents "distrust" the state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) -- because they can't get straight answers about what data is collected and with whom it is shared; because data-mining proponents speak of collecting data on their children's "affective states"; because under current federal law and regulations, access to personally identifiable information (PII) is available to researchers, tech companies, multiple federal agencies, and even "volunteers"; and because recent congressional hearings have exposed the horrifying lack of data security within the U.S. Department of Education [HERE
Parents also object that in too many cases, government collects and discloses their children's data without parental consent. They don't appreciate hearing that it's just too much trouble to get their consent or that their right to protect their children's privacy by opting out of data-collection is secondary to having full data sets for "research" (as was discussed in the March House hearing
that Leong touts).
Nor is "trust" engendered when data-collection involves psychologically profiling innocent children to provide the "individual and micro data" advocated by Leong, using creepy, Orwellian devices such as those described in a recent op-ed in U.S. News and World Report
and rebutted here:
They also measure and monitor things like students' saccadic eye patterns as students learn from visual and textual information sources, data from sensors tracking facial expressions and posture, and more. These data are all fine-grained, reflecting students' learning processes, knowledge, affective states . . . .
Unfortunately for the sake of privacy, Brookings has been doing this kind of social-emotional research for years via the Social Genome Project
with its partner the American Institutes of Research (AIR), author of the Smarter Balanced national assessment and Florida's Common Core tests, and which conveniently provided one of the pro-data-mining witnesses for the March House hearing:
Parents are also noticing that even researchers who focus on this type of data-collection admit
how subjective the assessment instruments are and disagree on what, if any, would be appropriate uses of the data.
In arguing for more, more, and more data, Ms. Leong also ignores what would seem to be a fundamental problem: The emphasis on technology and "research-based" education that both requires and provides so much data isn't producing results that even remotely justify the loss of privacy, parental rights, and local control. NAEP test
scores, including college-readiness scores, have declined
or are stagnant. State test scores are lower when the assessments are given online
. Bill Gates himself has admitted that he and technology "really haven't changed [students' academic] outcomes."
If what they're doing with the data isn't working, do they seriously believe doing more of it will produce results?
And in any event, government is notorious -- especially in the education arena -- for simply ignoring research that doesn't support its desired outcomes (for example, the many studies showing the ineffectiveness and or harm of current government education and child social programs such as preschool
and home visiting [also here]
, as well as the effectiveness of a two-parent family structure
and academic basics like phonics)
. So why do we need so much research in the first place?
Ms. Leong, the "responsible" thing would be for the federal government to pull out of education altogether, as it has no constitutional authority to be involved. Short of that, it might consider honoring the petition by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to enforce FERPA as written, and following these recommendations from our review
of that March House Hearing on SETRA that include removing the social-emotional language from SETRA and strengthening of FERPA and PPRA to prohibit the collection of this socio-emotional data. That would go further than lectures from Ms. Leong in increasing parents' trust that their children's privacy is safe.
Cross posted at Education Liberty Watch.
June 16, 2016
Jane Robbins, attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project wrote another excellent article about invasive federal involvement in early childhood education, this time in the context of Hillary Clinton's dangerous pre-K plan. In it she discussed Clinton's strong desire to to extend her work as First Lady of Arkansas where she expanded a failed childcare/home visiting program called Parents as Teachers and then as US First Lady when she wrote the book It Takes a [Government] Village.
Robbins discusses the help Clinton has received on her quest from both President Obama who has been promoting universal preschool for his entire presidency and the Congressional Republicans who caved and gave him another $250 million for preschool in the Every Student Succeed Act.
She also discussed the push for even more national pre-K standards aligned to Common Core, especially the invasive social emotional standards and the terrible track record of failure and harm caused by these programs. On the last two issues, she was kind enough to mention or link to Dr. Effrem's research in these areas, for which we thank her. Here is an excerpt:
In any event, the Gates-funded ETS argues that as long as the federal government has pushed Common Core onto the states, beginning in kindergarten, the accomplishment-inducing preschool standards should be aligned with Common Core. That way preschool can be standardized across the country, eliminating the dreaded "inequity" by ensuring all preschoolers are drilled according to the same garbage standards. Alignment would also allow teachers to share instructional strategies and all teach the same thing. We can't have children in Kansas coloring duckies while Minnesotans are focusing on kittens.
And of course, these standards should emphasize "social-emotional learning." The government must expect teachers to observe and record toddlers' psychological development and attributes, which information will be fed into the state longitudinal database for future use. Children will be affected -- perhaps haunted -- by these subjective observations throughout their school careers, and maybe beyond.
Where to begin? First, much research establishes that government-sponsored preschool either has little benefit for children, or actually damages their development and learning.
For example, multiple studies (see HERE and HERE for the most recent) have established that the federal Head Start program doesn't benefit children beyond the earliest years of elementary school. A federally funded study from 2012 showed that Head Start participation produces little to no benefit in either cognitive or social-emotional development. And in some areas, Head Start even has harmful effects. (Of course, this evidence has not diminished federal funding for Head Start taxpayers have coughed up around $200 billion for this useless-to-harmful program since its inception.)
A more recent study of Tennessee's pre-K program was similarly discouraging. This study found that participants in the state program showed no benefits by the end of kindergarten, and in fact, by first and second grade performed worse than children who avoided the state pre-K.
Numerous studies of Head Start and other state programs have shown initial gains but then either "fadeout" or decline/harm in subsequent years. According to pediatrician Dr. Karen Effrem, it's not unusual to see an initial improvement that then disappears, or even deteriorates into decline, in both academic and behavioral parameters.
But even if there were solid evidence supporting government preschool, the suggestion that Common Core-aligned national standards be imposed is, to use a technical term, nuts. Early-childhood educators and other development experts have blasted the Common Core K-3 standards as grossly inappropriate from a child-development standpoint. In 2010, over 500 early-childhood experts issued a joint statement urging rejection of the standards as utterly incompatible with real human children and how they learn.
Read the full article - No, Hillary Clinton Won't Make Preschool Great Again.