Arne Duncan has lost his mind

Arne Duncan has lost his mind

Arne Duncan (after hanging out with the Mayor of Toronto smoking from a mysterious pipe)

Unless you live under rock, if you follow education issues at all you no doubt heard this latest pearl of wisdom from the head of the US Department of Education.

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said, according to an account from Politico. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, `My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

My first thought when I heard this was that Arne Duncan was trying to make sure the US Department of Education gets eliminated. I certainly expect this comment, combined with his other policies and epic overreach into local matters, will land eliminating the US department of Education front and center in the 2016 Presidential election.

In response to this a petition was launched on the Official White House website to call for Duncan’s removal: “This clearly demonstrates the complete lack of understanding he has and his utter contempt for the American people. He is both unqualified and unfit to lead the Department of Education and should be removed immediately.”

A group Facebook group called MAD, or Mother’s Against Duncan, also immediately formed. As of 11/19/13 at 10:30, a little more than 24 hours after the comments this site had over 3000 members . . . and growing.


When I had a little time to contemplate what Duncan said a few things occurred to me. He really, honestly thinks this is all about test scores. In his twisted world, kids and parents don’t exist as consierations, and learning is little more than a number of trend-line on a chart. The only learning and education that matters to him is one that can be measured, and he actually thinks everyone else thinks this way too. He has surrounded himself with people that think this, and insulated himself form the public, from parents, children and from learning. He can’t even comprehend that anyone might not give a damn about his ridiculous tests (that really do a better job identifying poor or mentally disabled students than they do “good” or “bad” schools or teachers.)

Perhaps it is time to show them how little we think about their tests and that our chief concern is not whether some highly paid educrat awards my school an “A” or “B” (while 40% of the students may be performing below grade level), but whether my child is learning and enjoying his school experience. I’m not sure about you, but my chief concern for my first grader and preschooler is not whether they score well enough on a color naming or counting test to get into a good ivy league school or rewarding career as a proctologist. I’m more concerned if my daughter’s friends like her or bully her, that she is safe and healthy, that she behaves well for her teacher and shows a good example for other kids, enjoys her recess and some fresh air, and has fun learning and growing not just math and reading (which she loves) but art, science, history and foreign languages. I want her education to be one of a wealth of opportunities and joy without the pressure of a career peering over her shoulder and monkeying around on her back. There will be time enough for that in second grade and the rest of her life, I’m sure.

The second thing that occurred to me is that this truly shows just how much Duncan has pushed and owned Common Core. Despite what your local school board or legislature has told you about how the federal government has little to do with Common Core, we have this racist, arrogant and dismissive comment from Duncan that reveals the truth. Let there be no mistake. Duncan was THE driving force behind Common Core. Gates put up hundreds of millions of dollars to promote it, but Arne Duncan put up billions, and he’ll be damned if you white suburban moms think you can derail his master plan with your pitiful concerns about your children and their learning.

Duncan has since tried to do some damage control.

In an interview with Politico, Duncan later acknowledged he “didn’t say it perfectly.”

I agree.

What he really meant to say was “No stupid ditzy stay-at-home soccer moms (regardless of their color or nationality) are going to derail one of my signature education masterpieces, Common Core. I spent billions dollars on this shiznat, and had to listen to Bill Gates tell me 100s of stories about how he cured malaria in Africa and how he should have destroyed Apple when he had the chance to get his support so it wouldn’t look like the federal government was illegally pushing a national curriculum. Melinda wouldn’t stop showing me that stupid paperclip assistant “Clippy” she invented. They even have bedspreads with that guy on it! I even had to change the meaning of the fricken word curriculum and get everyone to call these standards! Let’s see you change the meaning of word and break federal laws . . . stupid moms, of many races, creeds, colors and religions whom I despise and hold contempt for equally!”

Thank you for clearing that up for us, Arne.

I’m sure you will enjoy the private sector (working for your true masters Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates) much more anyways.

Say “Hi” to Clippy for me!


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inBloom, Ed-Fi, Cloud Computing, China, Nazi-Germany and the new Eugenicists

inBloom, Ed-Fi, Cloud Computing, China, Nazi-Germany and the new Eugenicists

Believe it or not, these concepts and words are all related. inBloom and Ed-Fi are two vendors that use cloud computer to store massive quantities of student data (the Louisiana is currently doing business with.) The information these vendors plan on storing will be used to classify, sort and allocate children by their skills and early proficiencies, much as they do in Communist China. It’s no coincidence that many education reformers point to China as an example of education success and something to emulated, not shunned despite what many Chinese themselves thinkEugenicists advocated the conscious elimination of “inferior” human being from the gene pool and promotion of the superior specimens. Eugenics is generally considered a discredited and bankrupt philosophy and social movement, pioneered by a cousin of Charles Darwin – seeking to apply his relative’s research in what he considered a productive manner, but which most of us would consider abhorrent and unconscionable, except when dressed up in a pretty package or advocated as a social need such as is occurring in China. Perhaps one of the most infamous eugenics campaigns was undertaken by Adolph Hitler. Hitler undertook perhaps the largest eugenics campaign in the history of mankind. Hitler had plans and delusions of creating master Aryan “super-race”

Those humans were targeted who were identified as “life unworthy of life” (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to the criminal, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while 70,000 were killed under Action T4, a “euthanasia” program.

Hitler also actively engaged in genocides, tracking down and exterminating millions of Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Poles and Ukrainians or anyone else who disagreed with him. However eugenics campaigns were not limited to countries like Nazi Germany.  The inspiration for Germany’s heinous program actually started here and was sponsored by a philanthropic organization, just as the Education Reform movement is sponsored today.

After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it was spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals. By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.

The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs, including the one that Josef Mengele [perhaps the closest thing to Satan in human form ever to walk the earth] worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:

“You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”

Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws. In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”

Even today, China is one of the few countries with both an explicit and implicit eugenics policy. The explicit “One Child” policy has exceptions that can be purchased or granted based on political connections or, individuals can ignore the policy if they have the wherewithal to pay the fines. The implicit policy involves testing children for sex (male children are more desirable leading to numerous female baby abortions) or aborting children for deficiencies and in many cases forced abortions.  Is it any coincidence China is often cited as prime example of what our education policies and programs should look like?  China classifies students as either college bound or menial labor bound from an early age using assessment data that determines which path is most suitable for a child.  This path ultimately determine how far in society a child will be able to progress, how often they will be allowed to procreate, how much education they will be allowed to receive.  This is the “Reformer” vision of the future of US education.

Current US law has outlawed the use of genetic testing for placement of employees, pricing of insurance, or admissions to primary schools or colleges. However test scores, and background checks have long been used and upheld as a way to discriminate against employees and enrollees. High test scores and grades can even be used to give discounts on auto-insurance and prior to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (more commonly known as Obamacare), insurers could discriminate and price products based on pre-existing conditions, age, gender, etc. Life insurance products are currently priced based on general health, blood pressure, medical history, whether a person is or has ever been a smoker, gender, age, etc.  For the time being, instead of using children’s actual DNA, which would be costly to store, evaluate and classify, the government is seeking to collect student’s educational DNA.  This ed-DNA will be used to start classifying students based on what computers and researchers believe are children’s potential.  It will be linked to income tax returns to see how much money children make, criminal databases to see how often they tangle with the law, doctor’s records to examine how often they avail themselves of health services and what types of diseases and conditions they develop.  With the recent decision of the Supreme Court that ruled DNA information is not patentable, expect bazillions of fly-by-night genetics testing providers to spring up offering discount rates on gene testing and storage.  This will initially be a boon for patients, but also for future government eugenics programs, and embryonic screening of children for desirable traits and exclusion and abortion of children with less desirable ones. (For an interesting window into the possible future of this type of genetic screening and profiling of children based mathematical projections and expectations I’d recommend watching the movie Gattaca.  We’re not as far removed from this future as you might think and this inBloom database LDOE is pushing is a necessary first step towards this future.)

Today instead of the Rockefeller Foundation funding eugenics programs with have the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation funding inBloom, a database that can be used to capture information on potential test subjects. We have Pearson conducting field tests on millions of children without their parents’ permission or knowledge. We have Michael and Susan Dell running a rival database called Ed-Fi that operates identically now, to the way inBloom is trying to operate in the future. We have the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortunes, funding a pared down pauper’s education to the masses, so they are easier to control and convert into future Wal-Mart employees and customers. The Koch brothers have influence over PBS (the Public Broadcasting System) which in theory is a media watchdog that only theoretically keeps watch over our liberties and infringement upon the same. All other media sources are beholden and censored by corporate and government interests, save independent bloggers who are now under siege by these government and corporate interests seeking to silence us so you only get a single “sponsored” narrative.

Gun control opponents fight tooth and nail against the regulation of firearms sales, and electronic documentation of gun ownership, for fear of what the government can do with such a list and such information. Unbeknownst to them, the State (their states and the United States) are sponsoring a much more insidious data collection that will start with their children and follow them throughout their life. A federal database, called EDEN, is the first step toward knowing everything about you, forever. Currently EDEN does not collect personally identifiable information, but The US Department of Education is pushing national database collections SDLCs like inBloom and Ed-Fi because they will be able to quietly change a few policies and suck in all their information these providers collect. FERPA, the Familiy Educational Right Privacy Act, specifically exempts federal agencies from having to comply with it. Federal agencies that can request information at any time without parental notification or consent: 

 to authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Education, and State and local educational authorities for audit or evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs;

The Federal government will be able to tie this information into the all the other databases they use to keep tabs on you at all times. As recent leaks about PRISM by Edward Snowden reveal, the NSA (National Security Administration) gathers everything on you that search engines like Google possess, anything you post on Facebook, anything you do with your cellphone and anything you save on your cellphone. Google actually physically drives their Google-mobiles through everyone’s neighborhood photographing your actual houses, sucking up your local network names, your cars’ license plates, and any signal they can. This information gets included in Google maps, but also gets tied to a profile of you. From census information you are required to report every 10 years, the government gets more. Google was recently fined for their privacy invasion tactics to the tune of just 7 million dollars, or less than 1/3rd of a day’s profits. (My guess is this is because the Federal Government wants this data, perhaps even requested Google compile this data, but needed to issue a token enforcement in response to the public outcry.)



While I think we were all impressed with how quickly the Boston bombers were identified and brought to justice, on some level most of you probably had a slightly queasy feeling. The amount of technology brought to bear, the speed with which that data was analyzed and actual pictures isolated and released, the subsequent identification of these bombers through a convenience store camera, the infrared heat signal tracking . . . it was all a bit spooky to me. Not long after there was the strange lethal shooting of the unarmed interview subject related to this case by the FBI, in the presence of 6 FBI agents, including what may be once in the back of the head.

So in addition to the criminal types and unscrupulous corporations that will have access to your children’s data as I covered here, you will have to worry about the Federal government getting a hold of your data and using for whatever suits their fancy. But let’s get to the meat of this initial matter, the handing over of student data to external data storage providers using Cloud Computing.

Here are some of the key things to keep in mind when your DOE comes knocking with a proposal to use a cloud storage provider like inBloom or Ed-fi for handling all your data storage and dissemination needs.

  • Most IT pros do not trust cloud services with sensitive data. (There’s a reason banks don’t conduct financial transactions using cloud computing and the military doesn’t store top secret weapons designs on something called CloudNuke.)

    Some 86% of those polled by Lieberman Software said they do not trust the cloud for their organization’s more sensitive data, and 88% said that they believe that there is a chance that the data their organization keeps in the cloud could be lost, corrupted or accessed by unauthorized individuals.

  • Clouds consolidate data, making it easier for criminals and governments to access this data, especially secretly. Vendors have a vested interest it concealing whether your data has been compromised, and as recent and historical events have shown, even the US government spies on its own citizens and allied nations.
  • Clouds make your data a bigger, tastier target, in much the same way shopping malls attract patrons, gold rushes attract miners, and dung attracts flies.
  • Storing data on inBloom and Ed-Fi Clouds adds an addition level of risk. These vendors are not suggesting they will replace your internal data systems, they are “in addition to” your existing systems. Sharing student data on Clouds is like passing out your spare house key to everyone on the block, including ones you don’t know well or at all, instead of just a single well known neighbor – in case of an emergency.
  • Storage of student data is expected to cost 5 dollars per student, but could be more. With 700,000 current students in Louisiana that comes to 3.5 million dollars per year. If this figure includes all students that total surges to 15 million dollars per year, or roughly the cost of this year’s entire Voucher private school expansion that was recently ruled unconstitutional to fund from the public school MFP formula by Louisiana’s Supreme Court.
  • LDOE has not proposed any specific use for this data, or this 15 million dollar annual expenditure. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on students, pre-k education programs, teaching supplies, professional development, anything else?
  • FERPA was weakened by USED to allow vendors to use data for non-educational purposes. Just as your iPhone terms and conditions change almost daily, so could the terms and conditions under which these vendors operate. They claim they will not share this data initially, but they also indicate they will provide discounts to states that provide date to third party vendors from whom inBloom will “recapture costs.”

    “As a non-profit organization, inBloom is exploring cost recovery partnerships with select vendors, which are contracted by states and districts, for the services that it provides. These recovered costs will ultimately be passed on to participating districts through lower annual fees.”

    (This is fancy schmancy talk for selling your data but instead of money changing hands they will give “discounts” in much the same way sleazy car salesmen and fly-by-night furniture sellers mark up their prices before offering 30-50% discounts on everything in their store!)

But don’t take my word this.  Ask LDOE and BESE at tomorrow’s BESE meeting (June 18th), about what they feel it is necessary to spend upwards of 15 million dollars to endanger your children’s futures and allow the federal government, hackers and pedophiles easy access to your children’s private information and future.  They will tell you to make things easier for school districts to work with 3rd party vendors, they will tell you to take advantage of teacher dashboards not teachers unaffiliated with this administration are asking for, they will tell you this is to take a step into the future.

 

But I ask you, is this a future you want for yourself or your children and grandchildren?

gattaca-review-valid

Where we are nothing more than what our DNA and data says we are?