Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, “the jealous aspiration of many suitors,” but because Poseidon had raped her in Athena‘s temple, the enraged Athena transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone.
The Chronological History of inBloom, SLC, News Corp, Wireless Generation, and Amplify:
I will begin this document by challenging anyone reading this, to ask themselves if this testing and data tracking is an ethical practice. Is it okay for our children to be used for profit? Is the sacrifice of funds to these testing companies the best use of limited dollars? Do elementary children need to be sitting at computers to be constantly tested? Does this ultimately improve student learning?
Note: My comments are in bright red. Please feel free to scroll. This is a lengthy document. All underlined titles are a direct link to the report or article if you desire to dig deeper…
October 12, 2012
Well, well, well.
It isn’t surprising Wireless Generation has been a bedfellow with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium from the onset. The magical wand was merely waved at some point to rebrand Wireless Generation as Amplify. In previous posts, I made clear, if it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck, it is a duck.
It is a little fascinating to watch these corporations change their names as they push their agendas into our schools to make big money off of our children.
Why would a company change their name?
Have you thought about this?
What’s the purpose of a Shape Shifter?
Let’s look closely at the very first statement in this proposal:
“This proposal contains certain confidential and/or proprietary information of Wireless Generation that is exempt from public disclosure. Such information should not be used for any other purpose than the evaluation of this proposal, nor should it be disclosed to any third party, except to the extent required by applicable law.”
Consider it Revealed.
October 27, 2012
By Gary Stager
“Imagine my surprise when the “documentary” appeared on the front page of the Amplify.com website. Amplify Education is the new kinder gentler branding of the Murdoch-owned drill and test run empire by Joel Klein, a guy known for stamping out classroom creativity. The rebranding was necessary due to the growing unpopularity of the test-prep industry, Murdoch’s infamy and a $27 million dollar no-bid contract rejected by the NY State Comptroller.”
“Had the “filmmakers” included any of Sylvia’s CMK presentation, their audience would hear the tragic story of how the narrowing curriculum, endless test-prep and data obsession resulting from the sorts of products sold by Amplify Education have wrecked her school and how she is now left to do most of her learning at home.”
“Corporations, like Amplify Education, will stop at nothing to extract large sums of money from public education. Taxpayers need to click past the photos of cute kids and teachers building with LEGOs to follow the money.”
December 27, 2012
By Jersey Jazzman
“Parent advocate Leonie Haimson called him “an educational Bernie Madoff” at the end of tenure in NYC. His greatest scheme was convincing New York’s voters that he had worked miracles while leading the schools in NYC; it’s clear he did not. Klein was happy to keep pointing at rising state test scores as proof of his success, but those scores turned out to be an illusion. On national test scores, Klein’s NYC did no better – and, to be fair, really no worse –than other major US cities.
That, of course, never stopped Klein from tooting his own horn. He’s now taken this unbridled enthusiasm for his own apparent genius into the private sector: this week, he made a big pitch to investors to get in on the ground floor of his new company by both touting his own successes and vilifying the rest of the education system.”
“Folks, what you are about to see is worthy of a master grifter plying his craft on easy marks. Ready?
To drive the failure and high cost of America’s schools home, the Amplify investor presentation includes the following chart.”
“OMG!!! This is outrageous! Look at all that money we’re spending! And look at those flat test scores! American education is a disaster! Get out your checkbooks, American investors! We need Joel Klein’s tablets, and we need them NOW!
Except Joel Klein just told us how great he did in New York City – and he wasn’t using a bunch of digital junk when he was the chancellor. Hmm…
Not only that; the graph above uses two separate, completely unrelated y-axes on either side. That doesn’t seem right, does it? I mean, is it really fair to say a gain on the NAEP from 250 to 500 is equivalent to a spending gain from $3,000 to $11,500? Maybe there’s another way to look at this…
Which is just what I did. Using the same sources as Klein’s presentation, here is the same data* presented in a different graph:
“Wow, look at this! Math gains have shot up while spending has remained basically flat! And even reading gains have outpaced spending gains! Our schools are doing great with just a small increase in costs! Maybe we don’t need Joel’s tablets after all…
Obviously, all I did was change the scales of the y-axes.
And the beauty of this is that my graph is no more deceptive than Klein’s. Or maybe it’s better to say it’s no less deceptive: both graphs make the mistake of assuming gains in spending can be accurately compared to gains in tests scores. They can’t – and anyone who tries to conflate spending with test score gains is selling you snake oil.”
February 5, 2013
By Rip Empson
“What’s more, in his annual letter to supporters of The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation and in subsequent interviews last week, Bill Gates discussed the the importance of giving schools better ways to collect, gather and analyze data and the enormous impact that big data can have in “saving” a troubled public school system in the U.S.”
“To wit: When News Corp. purchased edtech startup Wireless Generation for $360 million in late 2010, Rupert Murdoch said of technology’s potential to transform learning: “When it comes to K-12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching.”
I find it incredible data can have such power to “save” our schools.
In order to get the “data” our children must test.
They must answer questions only about that which is measurable.
Let the testing monster “Bloom” before your very eyes.
It’s also comforting to know how Mr. Murdoch sees our children.
$500 Billion in profit.
And… data and tests and tablets extend the reach of great teaching.
March 13, 2013
“Other states that have already signed on to release student data to inBloom are Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Louisiana.”
March 18, 2013
(Since we are the governing state of SBAC, Washington managed the bidding process of Amplify Insight)
“Amplify Insight will develop the technology behind the digital library and create professional learning resources, develop instructional modules, and oversee educator engagement. That work includes forming “state leadership teams,” which will attempt to recruit an average of a hundred educators from each of 21 governing states. These educator teams will provide feedback on the development of formative assessment resources and professional learning tools created by the Consortium and provide additional resources for classroom use.”
“The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has given a $12.5 million contract to Amplify Insight (formerly known as Wireless Generation) to develop a digital library of formative assessment practices and professional learning resources for teachers.”
April 4, 2013
“InBloom, which had its formal launch at SXSWedu, boasts 9 states(Delaware, Massachusetts, Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky) that will pilot the program. Many companies are on board too, with plans to use and integrate inBloom data. These include Amazon, Clever, Compass Learning, Dell, eScholar, Goalbook, Kickboard, LearnSprout, Promethean, Scholastic, and Schoology (for the complete list of inBloom partners, see here)”
April 29, 2013
By Peter Rugh
“Starting next year, those scores, along with students’ personal information – race, economic background, report cards, discipline records and personal addresses – will be stored in a database designed by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
That’s right, Rupert Murdoch can read your child’s report card anytime he likes and he knows where your kid is sleeping. The database will be managed by inBloom inc, a non-profit outfit that, like Wireless Generation, is under the domain of billionaire Bill Gates – who, together with the Carnegie Corporation and other philanthropic organizations, set up the company via his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
inBloom is receiving $50 million for their services from the New York Education Department through a contract awarded last fall. Data analyzing firms, educational software designers and other third-party venders, both for and not-for-profit, will be granted access to student information.”
The parents of Washington State have the right to know all of this.
The history reveals the truth.
Why did Spokane and Seattle School Districts dive into this?
A good use of tax payer dollars?
April 30, 2013
By Mary Frost
“The outrage level only got higher after families learned that the city had already handed their children’s personal information over to inBloom Inc., a Gates-funded corporation, which plans to share students’ information with for-profit vendors to help them market “learning products.”
May 19, 2013
By Leonie Haimson
“Actually, according to a presentation Joel Klein gave in December about NewsCorp’s bid to capture a larger share of what he described as the $673 billion US education market, through online learning, Amplify’s tablets and the new Common Core standards, Klein predicted a loss of $180 million in FY 2013, which he called “disciplined investment.”
And… the parent letter…
“As a parent, educator and human, I am horrified by your product, the “charming” back story for it and the underlying premise of the story. You are endorsing the view that everything that doesn’t involve a screen is boring. Human interaction, and direct interaction with three dimensional physical objects for science, math, sports etc. is obviously just not stimulating enough for our kids. I “power-down” at work- when I’m teaching and interacting with students and colleagues! We have no evidence that screen based learning is good for kids, but we have plenty of evidence that too much screen-time has negative results on kids’ development and harms adults as well. Kids are already in front of screens too much; so we now think it’s a good idea to have kids “plugged in” during school too? God help us.”
July 20, 2013
By Peggy Robertson
“She fails to mention that inBloom can share student data with for-profit vendors to allow them an opportunity to tailor their educational products to students’ needs. She fails to mention that “personalized learning” too often means hooking children up to computers with software programs – which is really depersonalized learning.”
“She fails to mention that federal privacy laws were weakened to allow for-profit companies access to student data without parental consent, and that Jefferson County schools are not allowing parents to opt out of inBloom. This despite the fact that inBloom has said they will not be responsible if the information leaks out either in storage or transmission.
“She fails to mention that inBloom is collecting 400 data points on each child – including the most sensitive information: names, addresses, test scores, grades, economic and racial status, as well as detailed special education, immigration and disciplinary records. These data points could create a detailed profile and follow your child throughout his/her educational career; this could indeed narrow your child’s opportunities within school and after graduation.”
400 Data Points?
August 29, 2013
By Travis Andrews
“These kids aren’t technically campers, and these Millennials aren’t counselors. Instead, the children are product testers (paid weekly in $100 Amazon gift cards) for News Corp., the Rupert Murdoch-founded media conglomerate that began Fox News. The “counselors” are News Corp. employees, tasked with recording these children’s every reaction to the educational games into which News Corp. has poured at least $180 million, according to Bloomberg, on top of the $360 million it spent to acquire the technology.”
$100 gift cards.
What is Amazon’s connection?
Oh… that’s right.
Amazon is the company holding the student data in the cloud.
October 8, 2013
By Andrea Gabor
“For New Yorkers, inBloom may seem like something of a son-of-Frankenstein B-movie sequel (non-New Yorkers will want to know why…) inBloom traces its roots to a technological lemon. Several years ago, IBM and Wireless Generation developed ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System), a portal for the New York City Department of Education, which was widely seen as a failure.”
“In 2011, The Daily News disclosed that Wireless Generation was poised to win a no-bid $27 million contract to build an ARIS-like portal for New York State as part of the requirements for the state’s Race-to-the-Top bid. Joel Klein had just left his post as schools chancellor to become CEO of Wireless Generation. (The company noted that it had been in talks with the state long before Klein officially departed the NYCDOE for News Corp. in November of 2010.)”
“But by then, the Gates Foundation had already announced plans to help fund and develop the data-collection platform that would become inBloom and that would have a Wireless Generation-developed operating system. At the time, Sharren Bates, the official who had “launch(ed)” and “led” NYCDOE’s ARIS, was working as a Senior Program Officer at the Gates Foundation. Earlier this year Bates became the chief product officer for inBloom.”
Have you caught on yet?
Is your head spinning?
Such an incestuous quagmire.
And just for the record: Joel Klein was the ex-chancellor of New York.
Now CEO of Amplify.
December 21, 2013
By Diane Ravitch with Leonie Haimson’s letter embedded
“Leonie almost singlehandedly stopped the effort to mine student data, whose sponsors wanted confidential and identifiable information about every child “for the children’s sake.” Leonie saw through that ruse and raised a national ruckus to fight for student privacy. Privacy of student records is supposedly protected by federal law (FERPA), but Arne Duncan weakened the regulations so that parents could not opt out of the data mining.
It is not over. The Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation put up $100 million to start inBloom, and Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation got the contract to develop the software, and amazon.com plans to put it on a “cloud.” They will be back. We count on Haimson and the many parents she has inspired to remain vigilant on behalf of our children. As a grandparent of a child in second grade in a Brooklyn public school, I have a personal interest in keeping his information private.”
I have a personal interest too. My son is in 2nd grade in Spokane Public Schools.
January 8, 2014
By Mercedes Schneider
This one left me speechless. The Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) became inBloom on February 5, 2013. The research Mercedes puts into her writing speaks for itself. Settle in. This one will show all the players and connections. The “bucket” becomes its own nonprofit.
April 2, 2014
“Prior to the state’s severance with inBloom, more than 40 Superintendents across the state of New York gave back Race to the Top funds so that they did not have to sign up for the data dashboards — though the state insisted that their student data would have been shared with inBloom anyway. Many, including Superintendents David Gamberg of Southhold and Mary-Fox Alter of Pleasantville, wrote letters to inBloom, demanding that their data be deleted, which the company refused to do. In a recent survey, 75 % of elected school board members said they opposed the sharing of data with inBloom, and 78% say parents should be allowed to opt out.”
“Created and funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations with $100 million, inBloom Inc. was designed to collect a maximum amount of confidential and personally identifiable student and teacher data from school districts and states throughout the country. This information — including student names, addresses, grades, test scores, economic, race, special education status, disciplinary status and more — was to be stored on a data cloud run by Amazon.com, with an operating system by Wireless/Amplify, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. InBloom Inc. planned to share this highly sensitive information with software companies and other for-profit vendors.”
“When it launched, InBloom Inc. announced that nine states were “partners” in its data-sharing plan. However, after protests from parents and privacy advocates, three of these states have pulled out completely (LA, CO, NC), put their their data-sharing plans on indefinite hold (MA for its one “pilot” district, Everett), make data-sharing completely voluntary on the part of districts (IL) or now say they never planned to share personal student data in the first place (KY, DE, GA). New York was the last inBloom participant to share data statewide, involving the personal information of 2.7 million students, and intended to do this without any parental notification or consent.
Because of the egregious over-reaching of the Gates Foundation and inBloom, parents throughout the country have now been awakened to the myriad threats to student privacy as a result of the weakening of FERPA, the federal legislation to protect student privacy, the wide variety of data-sharing practices that districts and states are engaged in, the P12 state longitudinal data systems required by federal law, and the huge push for data-collecting, data-sharing and data-mining, all in the name of “personalized learning.”
This is outrageous. How could this information be out in the open, and school districts like Spokane and Seattle think it will be any different? Why would they contract with this company? Is it possible the history of Amplify was unknown?
April 14, 2014
“Put another way, Klein views Amplify partly as a traditional education company like Pearson and McGraw-Hill and partly like technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, who have been trying lately to break into the $1 trillion education market.
‘Unlike the great tech companies, we have a very heavy strand of educational DNA, and unlike the older ed companies, we have a strong focus on tech,’ Klein said.”
This makes me chuckle.
Now, why would Joel Klein want a new identity for Amplify?
The owner of Amplify is still Rupert Murdoch?
No one is supposed to know.
April 21, 2014
“The backlash prompted a string of withdrawals by planned partners in Colorado, Louisiana, and elsewhere.”
April 24, 2014
May 1, 2014
“For many parents, the software got a little too personal. Although there weren’t any documented cases of InBloom misusing the information, parents and privacy advocates around the country argued that digital records on kids as young as 5 could easily be sold to marketers or stolen by hackers. Six of InBloom’s nine client states had pulled out over privacy concerns by the time the company said it was closing shop. “The risk far outweighs any benefits,” Karen Sprowal, a mother of a fifth grader, testified before a New York State Senate committee in November. “Just know that there’s a lot of parents like me that’s out there that say, ‘Hell, no.’ ”
April 7, 2015
Tablet computers and online curriculum were supposed to revolutionize schools. That hasn’t happened.
“Amplify’s experience shows how even the most deep-pocketed new players find it challenging to change the way children are taught. Billionaires such as Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and real estate and insurance investor Eli Broad have expressed frustration their philanthropy hasn’t done more to improve student achievement. Murdoch is discovering his own challenges as he seeks to make a profit from overhauling education — as have other education entrepreneurs before him.”
I also find it very interesting, within this article, how it states most schools are not set up for the broad width necessary or have the internet speed. Could this be the reason Spokane School District made the following bid with MicroK12 on March 25th? (Found in School Board Minutes) $4,000,000?
Also noteworthy, are the minutes from April 15th. Spokane School District will pay Amplify the following amount.
Furthermore, as per the curriculum contact notes, Spokane School District has also contracted with Amplify to write Benchmark Assessments. It was noted within the curriculum contact document how teachers no longer would need to use the assessments embedded within the curriculum materials adopted, rather they would be able to use the assessments written by Amplify. I find this fascinating. Pay for curricular materials that come with embedded assessments, and pay another company to write MORE assessments. Why would it be necessary to have Amplify write these Benchmark Assessments? And how much more money will the school district pay for this service?
Easier Data Tracking?
How much money will Joel Klein and Mr. Murdoch be making?
I’m not smiling, are you?
April 7, 2015
By Diane Ravitch
“By the end of June, Murdoch’s News Corp. will have invested more than $1 billion in Amplify, its division that makes the tablets, sells an online curriculum and offers testing services. Amplify, which never set a timetable for turning a profit, has yet to do so. It reported a $193 million loss last year, and its annual revenue represented only about 1 percent of News Corp.’s sales of $8.6 billion.”
Have you thought about asking the question: “Whose $193 million did they lose?”
It’s where tax payer dollars have gone in states across our nation. The trusting parent’s money used, who believe the school system is making the best choices for their children. Legislators voting for the best interest of children is assumed. The powers that be can’t figure out how to find the money to lower class size or honor teachers with a state voter approved COLA, yet can find millions of dollars to pay testing companies.
News Corp.’s sales are $8.6 billion.
April 27, 2015
By Diane Ravitch
“Today it was confirmed that 200 students out of a class of 464 Opted Out at Palos Verdes High School’s 11th grade class. Only approximately 40% are taking the SBAC.
Palos Verdes High School has a 98% rate of students going on to college. We are already ‘College Ready’.
If Smarter Balanced thinks that CA parents have already been dumbed-down, think again.
Parents and community are waking up to the Smarter Balanced profiteering scenario and they don’t like what they are finding out.”
Remember, SBAC paid Amplify $12,500,000 to write practice test items.
SBAC and Amplify very close cousins.
The Parent Continues:
Parents are questioning why Smarter Balanced has ‘locked out’ the public, school boards, administrators, parents and community from any information regarding the Smarter Balanced Executive Committee, its’ elections, decisions, agendas, minutes, etc.
There is no way to access the SB website for any of this type of information since September 1, 2014.
Yet Smarter Balanced is dictating policy decisions, lessons and testing to 17 states who have paid them with public funds.
Any decisions made by Smarter Balanced are done in secret, while Smarter Balanced functions on public funds.”
Children’s Data is not safe.
And it IS being used to make profits.
The Federal Government, State Governments, Departments of Education, School Districts, and School Boards ARE voting to give billions of dollars to these private testing corporations. They are using public funds, tax payer dollars, to pad the pockets of these conglomerates.
Where could this money be going?!
Our children and teachers and schools are being used.
May 9, 2015
By Dora Taylor
“Just when you thought you had enough, the district is spending more money on more standardized tests. The Seattle Public School district wants to buy Amplify’s mClass Beacon to implement it district-wide in 2016. It is to be administered at the end of the school year but because of the testing that is already set into place, there is no time for students to take it in May or June so it will be given in February.
The cost of the pilot program implemented in 50 schools in 2014 came just under $250k. That is under the $250,000 threshold required for approval by the Seattle school board. Coincidence? I think not. This was the same tactic used when folks at the Stanford Center decided we needed more of the MAP test. The school board and public were not given the opportunity to discuss, debate or vote on either battery of tests.
Now the district wants to implement Amplify across the district at an estimated cost of $433,160.
From Amplify’s website (How safe is our children’s data?):
To improve our products and services. We may use your personal information for our business purposes, such as data analysis, audits, developing new products and services, enhancing the Site, improving our services, identifying usage trends, and determining the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns.
To allow service providers to assist us. We may engage third party service providers, agents and partners (“Third Party Agents”) to perform functions on our behalf, such as marketing, analytics, credit card processing, shipping or stocking orders and providing customer service. We may disclose your personal information to such Third Party Agents to enable them to assist us in these efforts.
To complete a merger or sale of assets. If Amplify sells all or part of its business or makes a sale or transfer of its assets or is otherwise involved in a merger, transfer or other disposition of all or part of its business, assets or stock (including in connection with any bankruptcy or similar proceedings), Amplify may transfer your information to the party or parties involved in the transaction.
5. Security Amplify uses commercially reasonable administrative, technical, personnel and physical measures to safeguard information in its possession against loss, theft and unauthorized use, disclosure or modification.
6. User control If you would like to review, correct, update, suppress or otherwise limit our use of your personal information you have previously provided directly to us, you may contact us using the contact information provided below. In your request, please make clear what information you would like to have changed, whether you would like to have your personal information suppressed from our database, or if you have other questions about your personal information. We will try to comply with your request as soon as reasonably practicable.
Even after we have deleted your information from our systems, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances – where, for example, you have shared information with social media platforms and other unaffiliated services. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancelation for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security policies. Because of the nature of caching technology, your account may not be instantly inaccessible to others, and there may be a delay in the removal of the content from elsewhere on the Internet and from search engines.
8. Sensitive information We ask that you not send us, and you not disclose, any sensitive personal information (e.g., social security numbers, information related to racial or ethnic origin, health, or criminal background) on or through the Site or otherwise.
9. Your California Privacy Rights If you are a resident of California, you may request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to our affiliated education companies for their direct marketing purposes. To make such a request, please write to us at: Amplify – California Privacy Rights 55 Washington St., Ste. 900 Brooklyn, NY 11201 Attn: General Counsel
Are you okay with this?
I’m not okay with this.
No way. No how.
May 9, 2015
By Carolyn Leith
The above article speaks for itself.
And… just what is an SBAC “blueprinting tool”?
I was hired as a Data Coach in Spokane Public Schools, and I have yet to be asked my opinion on the Amplify mClass Beacon Assessment Management and Reporting System. As of now, I am the Amplify Coordinator in my elementary school. I became concerned when I previewed the learning maps each child is assigned through Amplify. My first thought was, “Oh my god, this looks like a map of a brain.” Tiny little hexagons change green as students regurgitate correctly or turn red if they miss an item. I instantly thought of my own 8 year old child being data mined and tracked like this. Especially after learning how Amplify is given permission to share student data.
As a parent, I am not okay with this. This obsession with testing is creating a stressful learning environment for our children. I become more apalled everyday by what I see education becoming.
Do we really want our children to become like the chinese?
“Chinese students are world-class test takers. It costs them all of their time.
All. Of. Their. Time… so much so that investing in amino acid IV drips is considered money well spent at Hubei province’s largest high school. The school pays 90 percent of the cost of the IV, and the student, 10 percent. (In 2012, the cost of one amino acid IV drip was 100 Yuan, or approximately $16.)
So, yes, when it comes to test taking, China and South Korea will beat the US every time.
IV or no IV, testing is what they do, but when there is no test for which to cram, outcomes are quite different. Consider the number of Nobel Prize winners by country. This list is from 2013, but it surely proves a point:
Mastering tests does not transfer to winning Nobel Prizes.
The USA leads the world in the number of Nobel laureates: 344 as of 2013.
No other country even comes close to that number.” – Mercedes Schneider, Chinese High School Pays for IV Drips for Studying Students
I’m receiving stories of the pressures high schoolers are being given right here in Spokane…
Interesting to consider the suicide rate in China in its youth… and consider what is happening in Spokane… Hmmmm…
I’m concerned about the mindset we are instilling in our children starting in Kindergarten. Plans for next year include putting Kindergarteners on the computer to test through Amplify.
What of play, imagination, innovation, curiosity, creativity?
Funny how these are all the things a test will never capture, and they are the root of what has made our nation great.
There is one difference between Medusa and Amplify. Amplify was never beautiful to begin with. It is being sold to school districts for huge sums, made to look like a shiny silver bullet, where in reality…
Amplify is a head of snakes.
And it will turn our children, teachers and schools to stone.
RAZ ON FIRE