Slightly Less Bad House Version of Competency Education Bill Passes Senate

March, 2016

After Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) tremendous efforts to add some common sense protections regarding choice and career tracking were rebuffed yesterday by SB 1714 bill author, Senator Jeff Brandes, the Senate took up the House version of the bill, HB 1365, and passed it 31-6 today.  We are very grateful to Senators Hays, Aaron Bean (R- Fernandina Beach), Rob Bradley (R- Orange Park), Dwight Bullard (D-Miami), Charlie Dean (R- Inverness), and Travis Hutson (R - Jacksonville) for their likely to be prescient choice to vote no.

The good news is that the House version of the bill does not assume district or statewide implementation of the competency based education program before the results of the pilot are in, so although difficult for the districts involved, it will not spread beyond Lake, Pinellas, Palm Beach, and Seminole Counties, at least at this time. And, the application does not have to show a vision of district wide implementation as part of the application.

The bad news is that  very incorrect information about data privacy and career tracking was stated during the debate on Senator Hays' amendment:

Senator Brandes - Data for the pilot program is not collected on individual students, but only on schools
This is not correct for two reasons - 1) The very nature of CBE programs is based on massive amounts of individual data collection from projects, online curriculum and frequent assessments; and 2) One cannot tell the success of a CBE program without data on how students do.  Here is information from two of the counties involved:

Lake County
"LCS [Lake County Schools] will devilop
op a mechanism to allow students to have some voice and choice in how instruction is delivered and how mastery is evidenced, based on data in the learner profile."

"Pinellas County Schools plans to personalize learning by: Launching Lealman Innovation Academy in partnership with the New Tech Network in 2015-16. The school will serve as a model of innovation and personalized learning for other district schools to emulate."
New Tech Network
"The smart use of technology supports our innovative approach to instruction and culture. All classrooms have a one-to-one computing ratio. With access to Web-enabled computers and the latest in collaborative learning technology, every student becomes a self-directed learner who no longer needs to rely on teachers or textbooks for knowledge and direction. We use Echo, an online learning management system to create a vibrant network which helps students, teachers, and parents connect to each other, and to student projects across the country."
"Tools to support school-wide, project-based learning
Course agendas
Project management tools
Outcome-based gradebook
Student journals
Discussion forums
Peer feedback tool
Behaviour tracker tool
Tools to award and encourage
School and Network-wide groups
Ssenator Brandes - Answered "no" to a question by Senator Joe Negron asking about career tracking in the bill
While technically correct that the bill itself does not require career tracking, Florida statute already requires a career plan as young as 6th grade which will only e made worse by CBE:Current Florida statute that Senator Hays was trying to amend requires a class in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade that  "must result in a completed  personalized academic and career plan for the student..." (Paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of section 1003.4156).  The State of Florida or any governmental entity absolutely does not have the constitutional authority to tell a child that they have to take a class to make such a momentous decision as their academic or career path as young as 11 years old if they do that career course in 6th grade.  The statute does not currently require them to follow the career path, but that is the end result of the assessments and data collection, especially online, that happens as a result of the course, and that will be made much worse by the competency based education programs.
How many times did one change one's mind between the 6th grade and when you started doing what you are doing? A key purpose of CBE is to move toward digital badging where they do teaching, assessing and data collection based on workforce skills instead of knowledge. Once it is in Johnny's electronic file that his career plan made in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade that includes fuzzy, subjective psychosocial assessments that project a kid should be a truck driver (nothing wrong with truck drivers) instead of an accountant, lawyer, or whatever, Johnny's high school class offerings are going to shunt him into being a truck driver instead of college prep.
Or if a student chooses a career path at the end of 8th based on this course, then finds he doesn't like it or does not do well in that, he has lost much time to switch to college prep or even another career track.  The benefit of a traditional education program is that a student has broad based academic knowledge that can be used in ANY career and they can change their minds later.  If they are taught knowledge, they will have the habits of mind to be able to develop the "21st century skills" of communication, collaboration, etc. If they focus too early on narrow, specific job skills, they may not learn the requisite knowledge to pivot into other things.
This is career tracking by default, not fiat, but is just as tyrannical as what they do in planned economies. This has been the plan for a very long time:
Here is a quote from Marc Tucker, head of the National Center for Education and the Economy, and a great friend of Hillary Clinton's as well as the current head of the Data Quality Campaign (a corporate backed womb to tomb education data gathering entity that partners with The Foundation for Excellence in Education) from back in 1992 explaining that his vision was:
"to remold the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone," coordinated by "a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels" where curriculum and "job matching" will be handled by counselors "accessing the integrated computer-based program."
Here is a quote from a recent report (2013) on global education and workforce training that is very focused on this kind of effort and shows great progress towards Tucker's vision:
Platforms for crowd investing like Upstart that "allows to invest up to US$ 200,000 into a talented young person who then shares a small share of their income over 5 or 10 years). This model...can soon become a mass solution as big data models of competence profiles would allow to estimate the most beneficial educational & career tracks."

Thank you for all you have done to try to stop this bill.  We have made progress in that five Republicans actually stood up to a Gates and Jeb Bush foundation backed bill.  We must build on this progress, parents in the affected districts must exercise their opt-out rights as reassured by Senator Brandes, and work toward increased privacy rights for students in the next session.

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