Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson (R- 95th) recently reintroduced a 236-page bill to “eliminate Common Core State Standards and bring standardized testing to a federal minimum.” https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-HB-176
The current version of HB 176, introduced and co-sponsored by Ohio ALEC members, appears to address many of the issues about which parents and education professionals have been very vocal.
Dr. Laura Chapman, a retired professor of art education and frequent contributor to Diane Ravitch’s blog, shared her views on this piece of legislation that almost seems too good to be true:
As usual you have the key idea nailed. “Eliminating the Common Core” is the bait for marketing this bill, especially to Republicans, but that feature is also a distraction from the really horrible part—competency-based education.
You are correct about the slicing and dicing of everything into little bitty “competency” modules with the end game everything on line and completely programmed. Algorithms determine what kids learn as soon as they get online to learn something. There will be gameified and cartoony graphics and cute little Quests to get kids to master a narrow and conventional easy to map and test subject. Anything that cannot be programmed for instructional delivery by a computer is destined to become a relic. Students will also earn credit through awards for learning outside of school (e.g., give me credit, I went to the art museum. The museum certifies the attendance).
This bill is not so much about the CCSS as the power of tech lobby when it is completely unified with the testing industry. In Ohio, the big push for competency-based learning has been led by KnowledgeWorks.org — well-funded by the Gates Foundation. But competency-based education is really a huge initiative with venture capitalists hoping to cash in on the guarantee of public money. Some have already made a mint by investing in apps and entire systems that pre-empt the need for face-to-face encounters with teachers. I sound alarmist, but this train is on a fast track as you can see from many websites. Here are two websites I recommend.
The first is Wrench in the Gears. The editor/author is Allison McDowell, a savvy parent from Philadelphia. The blog subtitle says: “A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Digital Curriculum.” This relatively new blog, started in September 2016, has amazing research that connects the dots on who is pushing various tech initiatives. Here is the latest post with some amazing connect-the-dots graphics on who wants to capture Rhode Island. “Dear Rhode Island: That April Fools Day Blended Learning Conference is no joke!” https://wrenchinthegears.com/…/dear-rhode-island-that-apri…/
Not long ago, Allison offered Seattle Education a remarkable presentation on the evolution of the tech industry and where it is headed. She is anything but a cheerleader. This presentation is titled “What Corporations, Bill Gates and the Department of Defense Have Planned for Public Education: A video.” The event was sponsored by Parents Across America.
Download the one-hour video lecture on what she calls Education 2.0– the anything-but-personalized schemes to make teachers go away in favor of algorithms that will gather information from every stroke of the keyboard. She also shows the end game in “competency-based education.” That piece is illustrated by a video that shows how competency credits can be earned and offered by almost anyone, anytime. If you cannot find time for the whole presentation, go near the end to find the recommended list of vocabulary changes for “truth-telling” about what’s happening. Here is a teaser list:
Innovative means untested (untried)
Student-centered means isolated. (e.g. Rocketship kids, in a carrel with computer, earphones).
Personalized means data-mined.
Blended learning means limited access to a teacher.
For the rest of this, find the marker 1:11:43 in the following video. Unfortunately, the video does not do full justice to the importance of Allison’s message, or the slides she has. BUT>>> Allison is making the slides she has gathered available for editing and reuse by others. https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/…/what-silicon-v…/
The second website is hackeducation.com with writer Audrey Waters raising red-flags about technology and education. In this post you will find a reference to Betsy DeVos and Uber. Here is a brief passage from Audrey’s March 30, 2017 talk presented at The University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education. The title of the talk is “History of the Future of Automation in Education.” (Caps were italicized in her post.)
Let me pause here and note that there are several directions that I could take this talk: data collection and analysis as “personalization,” for example. The New York Times just wrote about an app called Greyball that Uber has utilized to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement and regulators in the cities into which it’s tried to expand. The app would ascertain, based on a variety of signals, when cops might be trying to summon an Uber and would prevent them from doing so. Instead, they’d see a special version of Uber – “personalized” – that misinformed them that there were no cars in the vicinity.
How is “personalized learning” – the automation of education through algorithms – a form of “greyballing”? I am really intrigued by this question.
Another piece of the automation puzzle for education (and for “smart car” and for “smart homes”) involves questions of what we mean by “intelligence” in that phrase “artificial intelligence.” What are the histories and practices of “intelligence” – how have humans been ranked, categorized, punished, and rewarded based on an assessment of intelligence? How is intelligence performed – by man (and I do mean “man”) and by machine? What do we READ as signs of intelligence? What do we CULTIVATE as signs of intelligence – in our students and in our machines? What role have educational institutions had in developing and sanctioning intelligence? How does believing there’s such a thing as “machine intelligence” challenge some institutions (and prop up others)? More at http://hackeducation.com/2017/03/30/driverless.
Now here is the topper and it could be the bill-killer. Recall that Congress just eliminated privacy requirements for internet service providers so these “wholesale gatherers of data from from computers and mobile devices” can compete with the retail data gatherers like Google, Facebook, Amazon.
I have yet to get a firm answer if this loss of privacy extends to FERPA and COPPA, but the more hell that can be raised about privacy and H.B. 176 the better. Add some healthy outrage about on-line testing that the bill retains with data-mining designed to shove ads to kids and parents.
~Dr. Laura Chapman
Whether or not this bill succeeds in eliminating all but the minimum of high-stakes tests remains to be seen. It will be very important for public education advocates to keep a close watch on how it evolves. Be vigilant.