Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is @Pearson the new KGB?

Pearson: Rolling over teachers who dare to speak out

It began with discreet data collection. For a while now Pearson has been quietly collecting information about our children, students and schools, and sharing it with third party vendors—many of which are funded with 'reformy' money—for a whole host of reasons. 

Then last year, Bob Braun's blog site was mysteriously shut down for a brief period coincidentally right after he posted this piece about Pearson spying on students who were tweeting about the PARCC test. Valerie Strauss picked up the story in her column at the Washington Post.

But wait, there's more...

Leonie Haimson and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy have been monitoring student data mining for quite some time. Just two months ago they reported that Lacey Twp parent, Heather Hicks, complained to her local board of ed about a blended learning software used in her son's biology class, the contract for which was later not renewed. 
Heather was surprised to discover later that she was repeatedly criticized by Bruce Friend, the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) in a February 10, 2016 workshop he gave at  Pearson’s CITE 2016 conference – in a presentation called “Gaining Stakeholder Buy-in for your Online/Blended Learning Program.”  He later gave the same presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning, where the session was described this way:
Gaining Stakeholder Buy-in for Blended Learning This session will address the importance of gaining stakeholder support as you seek to build a blended (or online) learning program. Stakeholders include students, parents, teachers, school leaders. We will share effective strategies in gaining the support of these key contacts; discuss barriers to gaining support; and share examples of the consequences when stakeholder support is not achieved.

Heather made this video to tell the real story of what happened. It highlights the lengths to which ed 'reformers' will go to spin their rhetoric, deny the facts and crush the opposition. This is the only way they can keep their house of cards from falling. Obviously what Heather did struck a nerve. Please watch this video before you read the rest of this post.

And then yesterday, Diane Ravitch posted this:
Celia Oyler, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, posted a biting commentary by an anonymous teacher about the flaws of PARCC. She received a letter from PARCC threatening legal action unless she removed the post because it contained copyrighted material —and divulged the name of the author. 
Oyler left the post on her blog but removed anything that might be copyrighted. She has not given up the name of the author. Many people who posted a link to Oyler’s original post or tweeted it received an email warning that they should remove the link or expect legal action. 
Peter Greene posted about the test, based on Oyler’s blog, and flew under the radar. He didn’t receive a threat from PARCC, and I feel badly for him. 
He wrote, in his inimitable fashion (emphasis mine): 
“You know what kind of test needs this sort of heavy security? A crappy test.” 
As Leonie Haimson said in a tweet, it is crazy to give a test to millions of students and expect that no one would write about it or talk about it. 
There is something worse than disclosure of “secure” test items. There is loss of reputation. And that is what PARCC is putting at risk with its heavy-handed tactics.
This teacher is no Edward Snowden. He/she is not giving up state secrets. There is no imminent threat of invasion or terrorist attack. As Diane said, the only 'threat' here is the loss of a reputation built on... well... CCRAP.

Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being wasted. Parents and students have the right to know how completely inappropriate this test is. And educators have the right to blow the whistle. 

Although I don't want to see this teacher punished in any way, I do look forward to the day that Pearson does take someone to court, and they have to defend this worthless piece of CCRAP.