Great series by PAA President on Personalized and Social-Emotional Learning

We apologize for our web site being down for a couple of weeks recently. We’ll try to catch up with a few pieces we wanted to share during that time, notably a series of blog posts by PAA President Dora Taylor who exposes the seamy side of the “personalized learning” and social emotional learning (SEL) trends.

We’ll share the opening paragraphs and provide a link to Dora’s Seattle Education blog for the rest.

Part 1

The endgame of corporate reform in public school education: Part 1, What do Betsy DeVos and Seattle Public School’s IT Lead John Krull have in common?

The endgame of corporate reform of public school classrooms creates a clearly defined two-tier system:

  • Students in public schools will be taught the basics by way of the Common Core Standards on a computer and assessed the same way with student performance and psychological attributes stored and tracked.
  • Students in private schools will have well qualified and highly educated teachers offering various subjects in depth along with classroom discussion and learning experiences outside the classroom. Privacy is insured.

One tier is for future workers producing when and where the market demands. The second tier will be the professionals and leaders such as diagnosticians, diplomats, attorneys, scientists, writers, architects and doctors.

Wealthy individuals like Betsy DeVos and Bill Gates are creating a future for students in public schools that has little in common with how their own children were educated.

Their motives aren’t entirely clear but there are individuals and corporations surrounding them who are profiting mightily from their vision for the rest of us.

Read more here.


Part 2:

The endgame of corporate reform in public school education, Part 2 : Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and the Federal Government

Dora writes:

In Part 1, I described Betsy DeVos’ vision, which includes vouchers for students to attend (Christian) religious schools and for every student to use a computer for most, if not all, of their education. This is for public school students and would not apply to private school students who have the advantage of small class sizes, the attention of qualified and certified teachers and a range of subjects to explore.

The idea of computer-centric learning is termed “anytime, anywhere” learning and is seen as an excellent value for online charter schools. No brick and mortar buildings to lease or teaching staff. They actually call this type of school a “value school”.

A student can do all their lessons online, be assessed as they work with short quizzes and tests as well as be evaluated in terms of their emotional state.

This leads us to what is referred to as Social, Emotional Learning (SEL).

Along with online learning that was put into place by John Krull, who at the time was the Chief Technology Officer at Oakland Public Schools and is now the Chief Information Officer within Seattle Public Schools, another program was put into place in Oakland public schools with the assistance of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The idea of Social and Emotional Learning is teaching “mindfulness” which is a difficult state to be in if you’re hungry because they is no food at home or you’re sick and can’t see a doctor but issues of poverty are not part of this equation. This SEL program is sold as being an integral part of the “successful implementation of the Common Core”.

The student is evaluated on their emotional state by teachers or other school staff using a rating scale. This is comparable to psychological testing but done by untrained personnel rather than trained psychologists. The evaluation becomes part of a student’s record and because it is an educational record rather than a medical record, there is no privacy as provided by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Whether a child has “anger management problems” or finds it difficult to focus, both of which could be situational, the information is tracked from preschool to the age of 20. The tracking of student information is often referred to as “P20”.

Read the rest here.

Part 3

The Endgame of Corporate Reform, Part 3: Online Learning, Social, Emotional Learning and the Department of Defense

Dora writes:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was a major contributor to the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and in 2014, Bill Gates was also busy contributing to IMS Global.

Per the in-depth article How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom? at Wrench in the Gears, the work in the Department of Defense has begun to be intertwined with companies developing software to teach, track and assess K-12 students.

In 1999, just as cloud-based computing was coming onto the scene, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 and created the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative or ADL with the purpose of oversight, research, and development of online learning.

ADL is located within the Department of Defense and was initially used by the National Guard for electronic learning and training.

In 2011 ADL developed software that could track a student’s activities while using a computer. The program was called xAPI or Tin Can API. The original version of Tin Can API was part of a research project commissioned by ADL.

According to ADL’s website:

The Tin Can API (sometimes known as the Experience API or xAPI) is a brand new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). This API captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies. Very different systems are able to securely communicate by capturing and sharing this stream of activities using Tin Can’s simple vocabulary.

Now we are back to the notion of “anytime, anywhere” education making it easy to plug into a gig economy of piece work employment without benefits as explained by Carolyn Leith in her article “Learning is Earning” the Rand Corporation way with digital badges and Edublocks.


Read more here.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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