Category Archives: Public Education

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

gates schooled

Kaye Beach

April 13, 2013

Just in case you missed this article from 2011, I think it gives great insight into current school ‘reform’ efforts.

I keep hearing about “school choice” but if you look at how this so called “choice” unravels you might begin to suspect the ‘choice’ being offered is between the pan and the fire.  At this point in time, if I had  school-aged children, I would teach them myself.

Oh, and if you find it hard to determine a right/left or Republican/Democrat lead in this mess that is because, unlike us little people that are further down the political food chain, the real brokers of power have no party.

And one more thought, while I do not claim to be any sort of an expert on economics, in my humble opinion - this  is NOT a free-market model!

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

By Joanne BarkanWinter 2011

The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well
over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the
private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that
immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in
private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a
decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain
a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine
public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of
venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation
they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement
their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

Read more

Edmond high schools to start drug testing in January

saliva drug test

Kaye Beach

Dec. 5, 2012

 

 

Reported by KOCO News

Edmond high schools to start drug testing in January

Dec. 4, 2012

EDMOND, Okla. —

Three of the largest metro high schools in Oklahoma will start drug testing students, authorities confirmed.

The policy at Edmond North, Edmond Santa Fe and Edmond Memorial high schools starts on Jan. 7, said district spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp.

Though some parents expressed privacy concerns, most seemed happy with the new policy. School leaders told KOCO Eyewitness News 5 that drugs are a problem in the district and that drug testing is one way to combat it.

. . .According to a letter sent home to parents, the monthly testing will begin after winter break. It will involve a random sample of students and will be administered as a saliva test to detect the use of alcohol, non-prescribed medications or illegal drugs.

 

Drug abuse among our children is an obvious concern but is random, suspicion-less drug testing of students the right way to deal with this issue?  What does this practice teach them?  Is it worth it?

It occurs to me that there are a couple of lessons that this might teach kids that do not seem especially desirable.

Don’t do something because you might get caught.  The end result is the same as if a teenager refrained from drug use because it was the right thing to do but the lessons of self control and discipline has been stolen from the individual.  The motivation is external depriving kids of the opportunity or satisfaction of  learning and growing.  What will they do when they can get away with it?  Will they learn to rely on external controls rather than self control?

You are assumed guilty until proven otherwise.  Great preparation for the real, adult world that they will be entering since the same skewed concept is being utilized on the population at large. .  Don’t expect these kids that are increasingly RFID tagged and tracked, biometrically scanned, searched, sniffed and subjected to random police drug searches, to resist or even recognize government over reach as adults.  Presumption of innocence in the cornerstone of our system of justice.  Even though children don’t have exactly the same level of rights and responsibilities that adults have, isn’t the presumption of innocence one of those fundamental concepts that should generally apply across the board?  We all say want a free country but this is the way to ensure that we will have a compliant country.

This drug testing program applies to any extra curricular activities.  I guess if a student wants to smoke pot or dabble with other drugs, they won’t have a chance to be distracted or diverted away from that by a more wholesome activity.

Here is the actual Edmond Schools Drug Testing Policy

As I said, drug use by kids is a real concern and it is our job to keep them safe till they are of age and we can always justify just about anything on a case by case basis but when you look at the totality of all of the practices justified for safety or efficiency in our schools, well, that looks pretty scary too.

 

Schools-Social Laboratories for Human Surveillance

Kaye Beach

Oct. 10, 2012

The latest story about Texas school children being tagged and tracked with active RFID tracking devices  (the passive variety is considered “a little less Big Brotherish.”) has caused some controversy.  We are told that this is no big deal, that the RFID tracking simply allows the school to more efficiently do what it already does-take attendance and keep track of students whose safety and well-being is entrusted to the school by parents. But there is much more going on here and the issue deserves to be examined in a broader context.

Here is an excellent article by David Rosen of AlterNet that pulls together a variety of news relating to the tracking and surveillance of students.  If you are even slightly uncomfortable about the implementation of these high tech schemes being unleashed on our children, you should read every word of this article which provides some much needed context to the individual stories that trickle down to us from time to time.

These children are the leaders of tomorrow and their experiences at school help serve to fix the values that they will carry with them into adulthood and they are being immersed in an environment saturated with sensors designed to supervise, control and correct them.  (Here are some other objections to student RFID tracking)

Rosen’s article covers RFID and GPS tracking, electronic monitoring devices being used on kids to combat obesity in New York, electronic monitoring of calories consumed in school cafeterias,  networked CCTV systems that are directly  accessible to police and disturbing abuse of student privacy through CCTV cameras,  school computers that use cameras to remotely spy on students in their own homes, federal funding of school surveillance and more.

I would like to add one thing to  Rosen’s litany; biometric identification such as finger scanning to make lunch lines more efficient 

Rosen writes;

Few parents or children are fully aware of the scope of the tracking and surveillance now going on in American schools. Three simple questions need to be addressed: What is happening to all the personal data captured about the students? How long it is being retained? And are school administrators providing it to law enforcement authorities or commercial vendors?

Here is the AlterNet article.

Kids Tagged With RFID Chips? The Creepy New Technology Schools Use to Track Everything Kids Do — And the Profit Motive Behind It

Texas Students Face Repercussions for Refusing RFID Tracking

Kaye Beach

Oct. 9, 2012

Are you OK with tracking kids via active RFID chips at school?  Some kids and parents in Texas are NOT OK with it and they are holding their ground. (article below)

Here are some of the objections parents and students might have against wearing and RFID tracking device (from Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools dated August 21, 2012 signed by a wide variety of civil liberties advocates);
• Dehumanizing uses: While there is an expectation of supervision and guidance in schools, monitoring the detailed behaviors of individuals can be demeaning. For example, RFID reading devices in school restrooms could monitor how long a student or teacher spends in a bathroom stall.
• Violation of free speech and association. RFID tracking software can monitor associations of RFID tags, which could dissuade individuals from exercising their rights to freedom of thought, speech and association. For example, students might avoid seeking counsel when they know their RFID tags will document their presence at locations like counselor and School Resource Officer (SRO) offices.
• Violation of conscience and religious freedom. Many individuals object to RFID systems on the basis of their deeply held philosophical or religious beliefs. Schools are required to make accommodations for students on the basis of these beliefs.
• Unauthorized use. While RFID systems may be developed for use in a school, the RFID tags may be read covertly anywhere by anyone with the right reading device. Since RFID reading devices work by silent, invisible radio waves and the reading devices can be hidden, unauthorized or covert uses can be nearly impossible to detect. In addition, information collected on systems could be shared or compromised without individuals’ knowledge or consent. For example, a student’s location could be monitored from a distance by a jealous
girlfriend or boyfriend, stalker, or pedophile. Individuals run this tracking risk any place they carry or wear a school-issued RFID tagged item—even miles from the campus.

Read more of the Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools

Texas School District Reportedly Threatening Students Who Refuse Tracking ID, Can’t Vote For Homecoming

Posted Oct. 8, 2012 at the Huffington Post

Weeks after Northside Independent School District in San Antonio rolled out its new “smart” IDs that tracks students’ geographic locations, the community is still at odds with the program.

The “Student Locator Project,” which is slated to eventually reach 112 Texas schools and close to 100,000 students, is in trial stages in two Northside district schools. In an effort to reduce truancy, the district has issued new student IDs with an embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that tracks the location of a student at all times.

The program officially launched October 1 at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School. Without the badges — required to be worn around the neck — students cannot access common areas like the cafeteria or library, and cannot purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. WND reports that the district has threatened to suspend, fine or involuntarily transfer students who fail to comply and officials have noted that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card as we begin to move forward with full implementation.”

Read more

The Government Wants Your Children – An Analysis of Recent Education Reforms and The Resulting Impact On Student Privacy

Kaye Beach

September 24, 2012

Every parent should be aware of what information is being gathered and for what purpose, on their children and their families.  These days, when they say “permanent record”  They mean it!

‘. . .schools are collecting much more information than parents imagine. Not only can parents NOT ask to see records of which they are unaware, but records kept out from under the watchful eye of a parent can collect and store damaging information and “When you put something into digital form, you can’t control where that’ll end up.” (Koebler)’

This is extremely valuable information and analysis from R.O.P.E -Restore Oklahoma Public Education, originally published July 25, 2012.

This is our latest piece of research. It contains information on how the state and federal governments are collecting copious amounts of data for every public school child under the guise of Education Reform. It also explains how, in Oklahoma, our P20 Council (created in order to pave the way for the State Longitudinal Database System which stores student data) is attempting to find ways to collect data from home school and privately schooled students!

An Analysis of Recent Education Reforms and the Resulting Impact on Student Privacy

How the feds are tracking your kid

From the New York Post

By EMMETT MCGROARTY & JANE ROBBINS

Last Updated: 12:13 AM, December 28, 2011

Posted: 11:01 PM, December 27, 2011

Would it bother you to know that the federal Centers for Disease Control had been shown your daughter’s health records to see how she responded to an STD/teen-pregnancy-prevention program? How about if the federal Department of Education and Department of Labor scrutinized your son’s academic performance to see if he should be “encouraged” to leave high school early to learn a trade? Would you think the government was intruding on your territory as a parent?

Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month, these scenarios could become reality. The department has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career. Although current federal law prohibits this, the department decided to ignore Congress and, in effect, rewrite the law. Student privacy and parental authority will suffer.

How did it happen? Buried within the enormous 2009 stimulus bill were provisions encouraging states to develop data systems for collecting copious information on public-school kids. To qualify for stimulus money, states had to agree to build such systems according to federally dictated standards. So all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/how_the_feds_are_tracking_your_kid_xC6wecT8ZidCAzfqegB6hL#ixzz1htV4TmIc

Republican Heresy? Get a R.O.P.E!

Kaye Beach

Oct 19, 2011

Jenni White, President of R.O.P.E (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) asks;

Am I A Republican Heretic?       

Why would she ask such a thing?

ROPE endorsed Republican Janet Barresi for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Many of us actually campaigned for her.

White believed like many other Republicans that Barresi would be a better choice for conservatives dissatisfied with the decidedly leftist direction of public education than Democrat, Susan Paddock.  That logic is straightforward enough but has it held up in reality.

Unfortunately, that answer is no.

ROPE lists just some of the items that evidence reason for conservative disappointment.

I took the time to watch the videos of the Oklahoma interim study on the Common Core State Standards held a couple of weeks ago and what I found most amazing is the behavior of Ms. Baressi herself.

If you did not know, the ladies from ROPE are ordinary Oklahomans who have invested a great deal of time, care and energy in serving as a watchdog for busy moms and dads.  They have devoted no less than one year to the research that was presented at the interim study.  They do all of this one reason.  They care about this state and the children of this state.  The ladies of ROPE do not get paid to lobby, study legislation or present their findings to the policy makers and the public.  I feel safe in stating that these women do not expect any thanks for their advocacy but I am sure they do not deserve the disrespect demonstrated by Baressi.

An interim study is just that-a study.  Ideally all sides of an issue should be aired and policy makers get the opportunity to ask questions.  Barresi showed claws and precious little to refute any of the facts brought before the panel. It was poor form on her part to say the least.  Barresi responded to the ROPE presentation and by extension, since she was presenting similar facts, the presentation of a Senior Policy Analyst with the Heritage Foundation, with a sweeping dismissal.  “We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts”

Barresi did take the opportunity during her remarks to say that the Common Core State Standards are not mandated by the federal government.

“This is a state led, voluntary effort” says Baressi

http://www.youtube.com/user/RestoreOKPublicEd#p/u/6/z4-FstHrXbk

State led?    Two national, non-governmental organizations, The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, developed the standards behind closed doors.

“State led”, especially when coupled with the word “standards” really means federally controlled.  It’s just that the states are being good little troopers and doing Big Momma Gov’s work for her.

Barresi is simply mincing her words.  The old ‘carrot and stick method’  is being employed with nationalizing education just as we have seen with every other sector of our society.

Utah’s Republic asks; “Still think the Common Core Standards are just a state initiative? Ask yourself these questions and think again.” And shares some valuable insight;

  1. What do you call it when standards are adopted from a national body and a state isn’t allowed to modify anything they just adopted except to add up to 15%? De facto federal/national standards
  2. What do you call it when national assessments funded by the federal government and led by a Marxist researcher will measure the effectiveness of common core standards? National assessments overseeing national standards
  3. What do you call it when national tracking is done on both academic and non-academic factors to ensure that students are scoring well on these assessments? A massive violation of privacy and national assessments and standards
  4. What do you call it when the federal government engages with textbook publishers to create curriculum based on common standards? A national curriculum and national standards
  5. What do you call it when federal dollars for state education come from countries like China and states like California? Immoral because our grandchildren will pay for their parents education
  6. What do you call it when the federal department of education rewrites the laws on the books to eliminate and redirect local and state control of education to the federal government? Tyranny and national control of education
  7. What do you call it when state officials and agencies fail to connect the dots on these items? A tragic lack of foresight

Barresi offers nothing but her ire to refute the opposing presentations which is a sure sign that she is up against the wall and cannot form a rational argument to the facts that were presented.

The debate over federal coercion with the Common Core Standards is a lively one to put it mildly, but suffice it to say that with adopting the Common Core State Standards comes more federal control over our schools than any conservative ought to be comfortable with.

And this leads us back to Jenni White’s question;

Am I A Republican Heretic?       

If Republicanism is a religion that operates on faith in whoever happens to pin an “R” by their name, then the answer is; Yes my dear, you are.

 

Privacy Nightmare: Data Mine & Analyze all College Students’ Online Activities

Kaye Beach

Oct. 6, 2011

Ms. Smith,  The Privacy and Security Fanatic,  digs into the privacy nightmare that our schools are becoming and informs us about  “another particularly invasive security idea being pitched to universities as a “crystal ball” to stop future violence — to data mine and analyze all college students’ online activities.”

Read on…

It is not uncommon for schools to be equipped with metal detectors, cameras for video surveillance, motion detectors, RFID badge tracking, computer programs to check school visitors against sex offender lists, and infrared systems to track body heat after school hours and potentially hunt down intruders. No parent ever wants any possibility of a school tragedy, so other biometric systems in the name of security have been introduced. Iris recognition and fingerprint scans are being used to monitor students’ Internet usage. Now there is a particularly invasive idea being pitched to universities as a “crystal ball” to stop future violence by data mining and analyzing all college students’ online activities.

In K – 12 schools, “new military and corrections technologies are quietly moving into the classroom with little oversight.” It’s making our schools a “fertile ground for prison tech,” Mother Jones reported. “For millions of children, being scanned and monitored has become as much a part of their daily education as learning to read and write.” All of this surveillance is supposed to keep students safe, but there are some states that would like to dump public school surveillance data into federally-funded fusion centers.

Read more

Kansas Fusion Center Wants to Gather Intelligence in Public Schools

From the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center's 2007 powerpoint slide

Kaye Beach

Oct. 1, 2011

The above slide is from Oklahoma’s Fusion Center.  When I first saw it, I remember thinking “is that a schoolhouse?!”  It is indeed a schoolhouse.   “Nontraditional”  is apparently a euphemism for ‘formerly illegal’.

Fusion Centers were created to gather “intelligence” from all sources, including public schools.

Kansas Fusion Center Wants to Gather Intelligence in Public Schools

Posted by ⋅ September 28, 2011

Because we have agreed (or at least not opposed) the idea that security is the most important pursuit of our government, surveillance that was once reserved for suspects now extends to most of the population.

From the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center website; The Education Sector is comprised of organizations and businesses that are responsible for the education of children and adults.  Entities within this community are a valuable resource that can provide information related to suspicious activities occurring on and around school grounds and campuses.  Primary and secondary schools, post-secondary schools, colleges and universities, and technical schools are entities that are a part of this community

 

“If you try to create too much security in a school setting, you are going to make it a branch of the law enforcement enterprise instead of a branch of the educational enterprise” –Frank Zimring, a a University of California at Berkley law professor.

That is a “BINGO!” statement there.  But read the rest of the article that the quote was taken from.  It is an eye opener.

Feds to Fund Controversial School Surveillance

Here is one of the most interesting parts;

In one of the more controversial areas of the grant solicitation, the NIJ states that “non-cooperative” identification and tracking is preferred over a “cooperative” system. A non-cooperative identification system captures and tracks personal or biometric data automatically, without a person knowing that they have been screened by a surveillance system

Read more

Don’t like the way this is heading?  Now would be a great time to speak up!

Call your school and ask what information the school shares with law enforcement and under what circumstances.

You have a right to know what information is being collected on your child, you have a right to know who they are sharing that information with, you have a right to make sure the data is accurate and you should have an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies.

 

 

Stupid in America