Saturday, February 6, 2016

Billions for Online Testing, Online Curriculum & Technology. This was never about the kids.

As Obama rolls out coding for everyone, updates his technology plan, his testing action plan, the relaunch of peer review of state assessment plans, and pushes forward all sorts of lovely competency based digital badging via workforce/skills training, daily testing, online curriculum, etc. etc. via ESSA, folks are debating the merits of these particular initiatives. I recall going through this with common core and I seriously wanted to throw my entire set of dishes across the room every time I had to have this conversation and this is why....

First - make no mistake - this is being rolled out not because the corporations and the Dept. of Ed. suddenly sense this absolute urgency to fulfill a child's desperate life long need to learn coding and/or punch away at a computer all day in absolute zombie like glaze-eyed fashion. They would love - absolutely love - for us to spin our wheels debating what we like and don't like while we interact within their test/punish system that continues to drive profit to the .01% while destroying the public school system and the teaching profession and ranking/sorting/ordering our children to keep privilege with the privileged.

Oh and be sure to check out the time for the rollout of all the initiatives along with the passage of ESSA - all in one full swoop - carefully planned and orchestrated within months. Understand one thing clearly - the test/punish system must be destroyed in its entirety if there is any hope whatsoever of shutting down the madness of privatization headed our way via ESSA.

And why all of this so fast?????  Because it MAKES MONEY. If this were about children we would see Obama throwing billions into funding for librarians, nurses, counselors, fine arts, small class size, building repairs, books, more teachers with teaching degrees, after school activities, health care, nutrition and more. But NO. This is about data. This is about demands and shifts in the market to meet the NEEDS OF THE MARKET - NOT CHILDREN.

I mean think about it- we've got buildings with no teachers, buildings with black mold and schools with no resources. But suddenly.......suddenly everyone needs to learn coding? Yeah. Right. I took coding in high school and college. Yawn.

What they need is data. You can't get data from a brand new dry wall. Every time a child punches a keyboard they enter one more piece of data. Every piece of data creates more data and public education is the data gold mine right now. Data allows them to manage, control, persuade and steer the people where they want them. This is not about who a child is, what she loves to do, or what he hopes to become in this world. This is about hard cold cash via data.

If you missed this datapalooza via Knewton you should watch it now.

If they want to flood the market to lower the salary within the many fields of workforce training they can do it. Remember, there never was a STEM crisis. So, we can waste our time debating the pros and cons of standards, coding, technology, new forms of so-called innovative testing and more. Ho hum. They'd like to keep us busy debating. Meanwhile, understand that in ten years public schools as we know them will no longer exist. Poof. Gone.

The ESSA comes up for reauthorization in four years. They are running - full speed ahead - to take it all (the public school system) before the public understands that online testing and curriculum is no more than a glorified skills-based worksheet on a screen.

They will swallow every piece of student data they can get and they will spit out the children one by one until they've devoured every last data tag possible that a child can muster up. They will gather data on a child's hard skills and soft skills - emotion, character traits - they will get as much as they can - facial expressions, heart rate, pupil dilation and more. As Ed Week says - the race is on to provide schools with personalized learning - check out THAT link and your hair will stand on end.

They will feed hungry children tests upon tests upon tests - daily - in strip mall charter schools, from home via online learning, in an under-resourced school and dilapidated trailers - they care nothing for the child and/or the conditions of the child's home, school, or the child's well-being.

There will be no teaching profession. Just facilitators and online learning with daily testing for all.

It really makes you wonder what all those applause for the ESSA were - huh? We at UOO warned of this for months before the passage of ESSA, and we'll continue to push forward to stop it at our conference this month in Philly.

As long as we continue to give any credibility to any of their plans we are simply a pawn in the game that the corporations and the .01% have been planning for years upon years. If we want to end it we must revolt. Don't try to reason with them and/or make the best of an absolutely shitty situation.

Demand all for all children and refuse their tests, their online curriculum (do this in large groups - watch what happens when an entire CLASS refuses to allow their children to take an online curriculum) and refuse their stupid coding classes.

As we say at UOO: We demand an equitably funded, democratically based, anti-racist, desegregated public school system for all Americans that prepares students to exercise compassionate and critical decision making with civic virtue.

Revolt and let's get this done.


  1. Peggy Robertson for US Secretary of Education.

  2. I wish Senator Mark Kirk would agree with this! He is still Common Core avid!

  3. can you post how you refuse an online curriculum?

    1. Just like you would opt out of a test - simply refuse it. But - the likelihood of success will be greater if you do it in numbers. Organize the parents!

  4. Thanks for your excellent advocacy Peg. Please see this post for additional evidence to push against the onslaught of online/screen-based learning, especially if it is being pumped with extended exposures to wireless devices for very young children:
    "Scientists Raise Concerns about Health Risks with EdTech: How Will the U.S. Department of Education Respond?

  5. The way the government is going about this, and the goals they have for education are taking away public education bit by bit. But we also have to remember that not all computer based learning is bad. I have been experimenting with digitally enhanced mathematics in my class for many years now, and it has its place, but it can never completely replace having a teacher in a classroom to help students. The way I have been employing the use of computers, it helps me get students that can move ahead quickly, onto other taskes and extended learning opportunites, while at the same time freeing me up to spend more one on one and small group time with students that needed more of that for success. So in your zeal to refuse doing work on computers, do not forget that there are some of us out here using it for the betterment of the educational process and for the best interest of our students.

  6. I agree that the way the government is utilizing computers to get rid of traditional education needs to be stopped. At the same time, I have been experimenting with the use of computers in the classroom for many years now, and hold a graduate certificate in the use of digitally enhanced mathematics education from the University of South Florida. The way I have been using computers has helped me to allow those students that are ready to move ahead, the chance to move on to extended learning opportunities and advanced subject matter, while at the same time affording me the ability to work one on one and in small groups with students that really need the extra help to succeed. It has also proven its worth with children in drop out prevention programs by not making them feel singled out in a classroom when they need special assistance with their work. I simply ask that in your zeal to refuse computer based work, you consider that there are many of us out here using computers in the classroom for student success, without any master plan for world domination or other evil intent.

  7. Very good post . Great work and you also explain everything in a very simple way. Thanks for sharing this post and keep posting good and helpful information like post. Thanks again.

  8. As you've clearly brought to everyone's attention, we shouldn't allow those who run our districts to negotiate with children's lives as a means to "get-along and get-a-little." However, this exact type of incremental negotiating has been occurring for so many years in our inner-city district that now all constituents (teachers, students, parents, staff) simply have no power/voice at all. While it feels that our ability to "revolt," as you are urging, has been effectively shackled, I encourage every person affected by the abuse of test-score reforms to speak up: To write, to sing, to paint, to film their way to being heard. I spent many years in writing about my own experience with being slowly negotiated into "silence" and can only hope that my voice might now be heard!

  9. I'm a programmer of 12+ years. I do not agree with forcing kids to code. I don't think everyone is cut out to be a programmer. I also do agree that there are far better things to spend money on.

    However, you have a lot of misunderstandings of what coding is. It's fine that you thought it was boring. That doesn't make it a bad thing. Many people do find it boring. I don't. I love my job. I don't spend my days like a zombie in front of a keyboard. I collaborate with a team to build software. Coding is only one thing that I need know to do my job. I need to be a communicator. I need to be creative. I need be able to think of "impossible" solutions. I need to be a diplomat.

    I do not think that code should be a requirement. I do think it should be available, and it is available. There are so many afterschool programs that teach children to code. And they do it in a way that is fun and captivating. They give kids a taste of it so that maybe they choose it as a career. Or maybe not. That's what I was given as a child. I didn't own a computer until high school.

    Programming provides so many side benefits: problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, and how to work on a team. I work on a team. Any programmer that stares at a screen all day by himself is doing it wrong.

    Finally, there is a shortage of programmers. It is not yet a crisis. I've heard this from countless people who hire programmers that they are having more and more trouble finding good people. I tend to think that there is this false belief that programming is boring. I am a programmer, it is my bread and butter, but I am good at what I do. I say bring on the competition. You aren't going to dilute this industry any time soon. But what happens in the presence of a shortage is businesses find ways of working without coders. That would be much worse for my career than having an abundance of coders.

    tl/dr: I am against this Obama initiative. But I love programming. I do not think it should be required. I do think it should be available, outside of school if necessary.

  10. It's nice to read your blog. :)