Jun 23, 2016
ELW

The Pulse 2016 Publishes New ELW Article Rebutting Big Data’s Entitlement to Student Data

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 and 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:
Brookings_AIR_Social_Genome_Project 

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.

Jun 17, 2016
ELW

Hillary’s Dangerous Pre-K Plan Explained – ELW Cited

 


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.

Jun 6, 2016
ELW

Affective Data Mining in NGSS Shows Need for Data Protection

The Pulse 2016 published Dr. Effrem’s latest post on the dangers of student data privacy in response to US News & World Report’s frightening op-ed lauding invasive affective data mining that psychologically profiles our children in the name of promoting the absolutely awful Next Generation Science Standards.  Here is an excerpt:

Gobert, whose company develops the software she lauds (no conflict of interest there), attempts to justify both the invasive data-mining and the NGSS, which have received poor reviews from many, varied organizations. She raises the favorite bogeyman of the establishment — American students’ 21st place in international rankings of science performance, supposedly endangering US global competitiveness. Yet, she ignores contrary data and research showing no correlation between these rankings and national economic performance.
More alarming is this paragraph, containing the kind of language that sends parents running for the exits of public schools and possibly towards attorneys:

Educational data mining offers more than the traditional statistics used on typical, multiple-choice tests. These high-fidelity data are in the form of log files from mouse clicks within the digital learning environment. 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 . . . . [emphasis added].

Such devices were illustrated and described in a 2013 report called  by the US Department of Education’s Office of Technology (USOT) (since removed from the website due to parental backlash):

This is yet another reason to urge your members of Congress to oppose SETRA and to put affective data mining protections in any reauthorizations of FERPA or PPRA.

May 17, 2016
ELW

Federal Transgender Edict is Harmful in Many Ways

The May 13th  edict from the Obama administration demands that every public school in America must allow transgendered students to use the restroom/locker room and participate on the sports teams of their chosen gender identity or risk losing federal funding.  Using Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as a pretext, the joint Justice and Education Department decree redefines the term “sex,” referring to the biological characteristic defined by chromosomes assigned at birth as “gender identity” which the letter defines as:

Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.


The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
 definition is even more alarmingly radical, vague and socially transformative as used in a pre-K curriculum called Making Room in the Circle: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families in Early Childhood Settings:

Refers to a person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being either male or female, or something other or in betweenBecause gender identity is internal and personally defined, it is not visible to others.” (Emphasis added)

The incredible danger to the safety and privacy of the estimated 99.7% of American public school students that do not have gender fluidity/gender dysphoria issues is obvious, mostly because of how sexual criminals will exploit the opportunity to harm young girls. An extremely concerning, long list of sexual crimes has taken place in Target restrooms even before their ill-considered policy to allow restroom choice based on gender identity that has cost their business over $1 billion. And an 8-year old was choked to unconsciousness in the restroom of the Chicago restaurant.

But this tyrannical proclamation is harmful to every group involved. This includes the very group this dictate alleges to protect:

Transgendered Students
Dr. Paul McHugh, former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital documents how fleeting these tendencies are in young people:
Then there is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston’s Children’s Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgery less onerous even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon the confusion and grow naturally into adult life if treated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting. (Emphasis added).
The American College of Pediatricians indicates the details of those numbers showing them to be even higher than the average quoted by McHugh:
“According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.”
They further clarify as follows:
On page 455 of the DSM-V under “Gender Dysphoria without a disorder of sex development” it states: Rates of persistence of gender dysphoria from childhood into adolescence or adulthood vary. In natal males, persistence has ranged from 2.2% to 30%. In natal females, persistence has ranged from 12% to 50%.”  Simple math allows one to calculate that for natal boys: resolution occurs in as many as 100% 2.2% = 97.8% (approx. 98% of gender-confused boys) Similarly, for natal girls: resolution occurs in as many as 100% 12% = 88% gender-confused girls. (Emphasis in original).
McHugh also explains the problems with ignoring the biological facts of one’s gender in an article from last year at the Public Discourse:
The Emperor’s New ClothesBut the meme–that your sex is a feeling, not a biological fact, and can change at any time–marches on through our society. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In that tale, the Emperor, believing that he wore an outfit of special beauty imperceptible to the rude or uncultured, paraded naked through his town to the huzzahs of courtiers and citizens anxious about their reputations. Many onlookers to the contemporary transgender parade, knowing that a disfavored opinion is worse than bad taste today, similarly fear to identify it as a misapprehension.

I am ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla–enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photography–stand many victims. Think, for example, of the parents whom no one–not doctors, schools, nor even churches–will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald. These youngsters now far outnumber the Bruce Jenner type of transgender. Although they may be encouraged by his public reception, these children generally come to their ideas about their sex not through erotic interests but through a variety of youthful psychosocial conflicts and concerns.First, though, let us address the basic assumption of the contemporary parade: the idea that exchange of one’s sex is possible. It, like the storied Emperor, is starkly, nakedly false. Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future.

When “the tumult and shouting dies,” it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people–extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered–documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers. (Emphasis added).

Similar evidence and concern has been expertly pointed out by the American College of Pediatricians and in this well- written Q and A published by the Federalist Society. This policy pronouncement from the Obama administration will not help these children. Promoting, enabling and coercing this gender confusion in students will only worsen the already considerable difficulties they face.

Women’s Athletics
The Justice Department letter said the following about athletics:
Title IX regulations permit a school to operate or sponsor sex-segregated athletics teams when selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or when the activity involved is a contact sport. A school may not, however, adopt or adhere to requirements that rely on overly broad generalizations or stereotypes about the differences between transgender students and other students of the same sex (i.e., the same gender identity) or others’ discomfort with transgender students.
This means that stronger, faster males who identify as females will usurp spots on formerly all- women’s teams.  The Obama Justice Department used the Minnesota State High School League as a test case and imposed this policy on the public school athletics teams of Minnesota despite heroic efforts by parents and many organizations:
It is highly ironic that Title IX, the federal law that is being used to bludgeon states, public schools, and parents into submission of such a medically, ethically, legally, constitutionally, and athletically damaging situation was written in large part to protect girls and young women from male dominance of female sports.
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