Category Archives: Follow The Money

Another Spokane Spark Speaks Boldly… Senate Listening Tour, October 21, 2015

Senators,

I have a question no one has been able to answer for me.  I’m hoping you can.

where is all the money going 1First, I’d like to say: We are spending incredible amounts of money on the “accountability movement” and “education reforms”. Reforms like high stakes testing, data mining and teacher and principal evaluations (TPEP). To do this, there’s also hidden costs, in the infrastructure needed to sustain it… in technology and professional development, etc.

Where is all the money going?

So, I want to know, before even analyzing new bills, how much money is going to corporations?  (Corporations like Pearson, McGraw Hill, Microsoft, data mining companies, and the computer tech industry). What about the cost of all the products and curriculums being purchased to get children to pass the tests”, and “practice tests to help children pass THE test“? What about the real cost keeping teachers from being able to teach?

Up to this point, anyone I ask, including many serving in the Legislature, never seems to know.

Isn’t this weird?

Dark Secrets

It’s like a very deep dark secret, and I can tell you this… it’s too high a cost to society. How do I know? Because as a teacher on the ground, watching these policies play out, I see personally in our schools, the horrible price our children are paying, for reforms that do nothing to close the opportunity gap, but plenty to harm them.

Let’s Save Money and Put it Where it Counts

Cartoon on standardsLet’s save money (millions and billions), by doing away with these kind of laws that trickle down into factory models of learning for our children. It’s not good use of money. When implemented, it takes square pegs and tries to pound them into round holes. It weighs the cow and weighs the cow and never feeds the cow. Now you want to move levy money around. I worry this will not actually feed the cow, but weigh it some more.  Constant weighing will not make it fatter. Feeding it will.

Pig in a Poke 1Sadly, I think when tax payers get how much money is going to failed reforms, that turn children into a commodity, with dollar signs on their heads for corporations wanting to tap into $500 billion the education market is said to be worth in America alone, (according to Rupert Murdoch), the more people will understand we are getting a pig in a poke!

Teachers want to teach. Children are naturally born to be curious and learn. Close the tax loopholes for billionaires, fund education and please get back to us on just how much all these education reforms are costing all of us…???!

Thank you.

Linda Gower

Music Educator, Spokane, Washington

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A Mighty Flame Follows a Tiny Spark… Senate Listening Tour, October 21, 2015

Dear Senators,

If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.

      I have lived the role of all three…  at one time a single mom, currently a mother of an 8 year old in 3rd grade, and a 26 year accomplished, award winning educator.  George Orwell said,
“The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those who speak it.”
     I believe we have lost our course in education in our state, as well as nationally.  Now is the time to stand up and speak the truth, even if it is unpopular.  I’m here representing a growing group of concerned parents and educators across our state.   I also spoke on an expert panel in a Senate Hearing hosted by Senator Chase and Senator Roach in April 2015 on common core and the high stakes tests.
Thank you to those who DO Listen
     Senators, I have written to many of you.  Thank you to those who responded back and showed a willingness to listen and have courageous conversations with me about education. The title of this tour is “Senate Listening Tour”.  There are solutions which, from my humble perspective, do address the funding challenges facing our schools today.
Too Much Testing
     Our children are being over tested in the name of “accountability”.  Our children are being used as experiments through the common core standards in the name of “rigor”.  What expense has Washington State undertaken to implement the common core tests?  What validity do they have?  What inter-rater reliability do they have?  Advertisements went out to hire scorers at $11.20 an hour in local newspapers to judge whether our children are proficient at these untested standards.  Do you want your own children’s futures based upon a Craigslist Scorer?  I appreciate the time Senator Roach and Senator Chase have taken to dig into the history of common core.   I encourage each of you to do the same.  In order to accept the Federal carrot from RTTT, the expense of common core is costing more than the carrot itself.
Solution #1: 
SBA withdrawal     Withdraw from SBAC.  Please do not try to convince anyone we can’t.  The tests have been trashed like the second half of a rotten apple in various states.  PARCC used to include 26 states. It now includes seven, with three showing signs they may drop. Smarter Balanced started out with 31 states (some states joined both groups, so the total is more than 50). It now has 18, with at least three getting wobbly.  We are spending millions a year on these tests that do nothing to improve student learning.
NOTHING.
Question #1
     Are you paying attention to what this Testing Regime is doing to our children?  Are you listening to the personal stories?  Eight and nine year olds are sitting in computer labs for full days at a time.  Is this developmentally appropriate?  These young children are taking tests for longer periods of time than college age students on college exams.
Question #2
     What has it cost our state thus far?  $200 million?  $24,000,000 is spent in scoring the test each year, and add the cost of sending out bright colored fliers to every student’s family with the results. Estimates are over a billion, including all the hidden costs.  (Computers, Testing Coordinators, Test Prep Programs… more testing programs like Amplify…)
Budget Report from OSPI
SBAC
Solution # 2:
Senate Bill 6093… A Simple Solution to the School Funding Crisis
     Senate Bill 6093, sponsored by Senators Chase and McAuliffe, would repeal the 1997 huge tax exemption to the wealthy and invest $4 billion per year in public schools to restore school funding and lower class sizes. Corporations like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, etc… would no longer receive tax loopholes.
There is money to fully fund education.
Imagine if we evaluated fireman by how they put fires out and then restricted their water supply and gave them crappy fire trucks… !?
Question # 3:  
Can you tell me how much the reforms are costing… all the standardized testing, teacher and principal evaluations (TPEP), the data mining, and the infrastructure to support it all?
Question #4
And lastly, who are all these reforms benefiting?  The children?  (Nope.)
Who. Is. Profiting?
in-a-time-1074x483
There is money, Senators.  It is time it’s used to authentically benefit children and public schools.
Passionately Submitted,
RAZ ON FIRE

Let’s Get Curious… Where Is All The Money Going?

I’m curious.

A gentleman has been posting a link in several places on social media showing each Spokane School District Employee’s salary, bonuses received, and medical insurance contributions. I know teachers receive around $768 in contributions a month for medical insurance. This amounts to $768 X 12 = $9216 annually.

I cover my son. The premiums come to around $1200 a month. Therefore, I pay about $400ish out of pocket each month, deducted directly from my income. If I added my husband the $1200 would nearly double.

I scrolled through the link the gentleman shared. I noticed a pattern.

  • Mark Anderson, Deputy Superintendent of Spokane Public Schools has an annual salary of $145,000. He received $33,000 in bonuses. And he received $20,000 in contributions towards his medical insurance.
  • Most administrators I found make over 6 digits in income per year, have higher bonuses, and higher contributions to their medical costs.
  • The exception… Shelley Redinger, Spokane School District’s Superintendent.  She makes an annual salary of $239,999, received no bonuses, and also received over $20,000 in insurance benefits.  This is $20,000 a month, plus her benefits.
  • In 2009-2010, the then superintendent made $195,048.  In 2010-2011, the salary increased to $222,576, a 14.1% increase. In 2011-2012, the salary increased $5,962, a 2.5% increase equaling a $228,538 annual salary.   The current superintendent makes another $11,461 above this, another 5% increase.  From 2009 to 2015 there has been a 23% increase to the annual salary of the person holding the Superintendent’s position.
  • From 2009 to 2015 there has been no cost of living increase (0%) for teachers even though the voters of Washington State approved it.

My salary has remained stagnant for 6 years. My take home pay, what I net, has decreased every year for six years running due to the rise in medical premiums. I do not complain. I did not go into education to become rich. I have raised my son as a single parent since he was a baby until last summer when I remarried. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. I budgeted. I set priorities, and I did borrow money at times to pay my basic bills. Many are in the same boat.

I think it woud be advantageous for school district employees, parents, and the community at large to ask where the district IS deciding to spend their money. I spent a day this past spring plowing through the minutes of every single school board meeting. I found some interesting expenditures.

There is money to pay Amplify, a testing corporation, (over and above the initial cost to purchase the program), $296,000 to write “custom” assessments for Spokane School District. Yet there is not enough money to purchase the writing curriculum that goes along with Journeys, the ELA (English Language Arts) adopted program.

Purchase of Amplify

Amplify is owned by Rupert Murdoch of Fox News.  Mr. Murdoch has been quoted as saying the United States Educational System is worth over $500,000,000,000 (500 BILLION) in untapped profits.  I spent a lot of time researching its history.  You can find the chronological articles with summaries here: Amplify… A Modern Day Medusa.

test anxietyNow, why would Mr. Murdoch be interested in the Testing Industry? Hmmmmm…..

Note: The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium paid Amplify $12,000,000 to write practice tests. Have teachers had the chance to look at the scoring guides? Do teachers realize they will now be scoring performance tasks and entering in the data to track children’s progress? Do teachers and parents understand how the data is being used and where it is going? Start asking these questions and start digging.

There is money to pay a company (Micro12) that sells broadband width and SBA (Smarter Balanced Assessment) resources a total of $3,905,777.50 so we can administer all the testing on the computers.

Micro12 Purchase

But there isn’t money for curricular materials for TEACHING?

Google MicroK12.  Do your own research.  Learn who they are, what they are about, and how much money they are getting of the people’s tax payer dollars.

SBAC TestDoes the Spokane community understand millions of dollars of their tax payer money are being spent and going to the testing industry? MILLIONS. We spent April through June testing kids. My staff has yet to examine their “data” from the SBA test. How was this test useful in informing instruction and improving student learning?

Was it worth all the instructional time given up? Was it worth having libraries and computer labs shut down for 3 months so kids could be funneled into the testing troughs?

There is money to pay for copying the EngageNY Math “free” materials with totals ranging over $3,000,000 from Spokane School District’s budget. An “interim” math program. My son, having it last year in 2nd grade, and now possibly another three years… is not “interim” for him. It is four years of his mathematical foundational years of learning. Digging and learning more about this math program, people will find it originated in Washington D.C. and was written by a company called Common Core, Inc. New York State paid them $24,000,000 to write the curriculum for their state. I also uncovered ties of Bill Gates contributing money to the writing of this curriculum.

Bill Gates contributed $500,000 to Pride Prep, one of the charter schools opening in Spokane.

Bill Gates has contributed over $2,000,000,000 (TWO BILLION) to Common Core.  Now school districts are choosing to buy technology, new curricular materials, practice tests like Amplify, etc… all at tax payer expense, in order to align to the new and “rigorous” Common Core Standards.

$2204 per student who attends Pride Prep Charter, (opening its doors for the first time September 2015), goes to Pride Prep from the levy money the tax payers approved this past year.

On the OSPI website, it shows Spokane School District hired two administrators to oversee the two new charter schools. One paid for from the charter schools, one paid for from public tax dollars to oversee the charters. You can find all this information on the OSPI website. Therefore, another administrator was hired to oversee two charter schools at a salary higher than most teachers.

Note: The charter schools get public tax payer money, but get to be privately run. They don’t have to use Journeys, EngageNY Math, Springboard, or any of it. They get to experiment with tax payer dollars. There is so much more research around this. In Florida State alone, 200 charters started and then closed their doors, at tax payer expense.

Also noteworthy, the district hired Elementary Supervisors for the 2015/2016 school year. All being paid over six digits. Remember the Area Directors? They were all let go to “save” the district money a few years back? They are now hired back under a new name. I asked a district level employee if they bascially have the same job description… the answer was one word, “yes”.  Therefore… more money to administration.

Please, please, please take the time to learn HOW the district is choosing to spend its money. Please know they have $37,000,000 (37 million) sitting. There is money to compensate all eight bargaining units.

Question MarkI’m curious.

I’m asking the questions.

Will you?

What are our teachers, custodians, instructional assistants, nurses, transportation employees, food service workers, etc… worth to this community?

I’m curious, how much money will we continue to pour into testing our children in the name of “accountability”?

Who is profiting from Common Core and all the testing?

There is money.

I’ve followed states like New York and Florida… we are a bit behind them in our learning curve… those states have had large uprisings and have learned just where the money is going… and it is NOT into the educator’s pockets… the educators communities entrust with their children.

Be Aware. Be Leery. Be Wise.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

Amplify… A Modern Day Medusa

Prologue

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

Wireless Generation Proposal

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.

The Proposal Between Wireless Generation and SBAC

October 27, 2012

Shameless Shape Shifters

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.”

And…

“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.”

And…

“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

Joel Klein: Shameless

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.”

And…

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.”

Inbloom 2

“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…

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:

inbloom 3

“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

With $100 million From the Gates Foundation and Others, inBloom Wants to Transform Education By Unleashing Its Data

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.”

And…

“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.

inbloom 7

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.

Choke.

 March 13, 2013

InBloom 3 months new in NY, and parents have raised concerns.

“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

Amplify Insight Creating a Digital Library of Assessment Tools For Smarter Balance

(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.”

And…

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

More Details on InBloom’s Plans for Student Data

“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

Exposed: How Murdoch, Bill Gates, and Big Corporations Are Data Mining Our Schools

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.”

And…

“According to inBloom’s privacy policy, the company is not responsible for security breaches; though it will “use reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure student records are kept private,” inBloom “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

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?

Ethical?

A good use of tax payer dollars?

 April 30, 2013

Parents Outraged Over NYC Schools Data Sharing Program

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

NYC Public School Parents: My twitter interchange with Murdoch about Amplify’s losses, and a NYC parent responds to Amplify’s sales pitch

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

Colorado Education Association Promotes inBloom – Without the Facts

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.

And…

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.

And…

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?

Choke.

August 29, 2013

Inside New Corp’s $540 Million Bet on American Classrooms

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.

Hmmmm….

What is Amazon’s connection?

Oh… that’s right.

Amazon is the company holding the student data in the cloud.

 October 8, 2013

inBloom, Educational Technology and the Murdoch-Klein Connection: A Son-of-Frankenstein B-Movie Sequel?

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.”

And…

“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.)”

And…

“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.

Choke.

December 21, 2013

Leonie Haimson: The Woman Who Stopped Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, and the Ed Profiteers

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

inBloom and Data Mining: A Common Core Cousin

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

InBloom and the need to Protect Student Privacy

“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.”

And…

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.”

And…

“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

Amplify Tries To Build An Identity Outside of News Corps Shadow

“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?

Um.

inBloom’s failure?

Or

The owner of Amplify is still Rupert Murdoch?

Shhhhhhhhh…

No one is supposed to know.

 April 21, 2014

InBloom to Shut Down Amid Growing Data-Privacy Concerns

“The backlash prompted a string of withdrawals by planned partners in Colorado, Louisiana, and elsewhere.” 

April 24, 2014

What the Failure of inBloom means for the Student-Data Industry

Protests and lawsuits from parents in IllinoisLouisianaColorado, and other states caused many districts to pull back from the partnership.”

May 1, 2014

Privacy Fears Over Student Data Tracking Lead to inBloom’s Shutdown

“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

News Corp.s $1 Billion Plan to Overhaul Education is Riddled with Failures

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?

Micro12 Purchase

Also noteworthy, are the minutes from April 15th.  Spokane School District will pay Amplify the following amount.

Purchase of Amplify

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?

Hmmmm….

Easier Data Tracking?

And…

How much money will Joel Klein and Mr. Murdoch be making?

I’m not smiling, are you?

April 7, 2015

Bloomberg’s News: Murdoch’s Amplify Floundering

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?”

I have.

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.

Choke.

April 27, 2015

California Parent Thanks Leonie Haimson

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 here questioned “Where is the Smarter Balanced Privacy Policy?” only to find out from Leonie that there is none. Absolutely no Privacy Policy to be found. How reassuring.

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.”

Amplifies Privacy Policy is included in a link below.

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.

Period.

 May 9, 2015

Just When You Thought You Had Enough, The Seattle Public School District Bought Another Standardized Test, Amplify

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.

And…

From Amplify’s website (How safe is our children’s data?):

“Please note that when you use certain (Amplify) products, services, applications or other websites, our use of your information may be governed by a separate legal agreement or a privacy policy specifically posted in connection with those offerings. If you have any question as to what legal agreement or privacy policy controls the collection and use of your information, please contact us using the contact information below….

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 share with our affiliated education companies. Amplify may share your information with Amplify’s affiliated education companies for the purposes described in this Privacy Policy.

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 protect the rights of Amplify and our users. There may be instances when Amplify may disclose your information, in situations where Amplify has a good faith belief that such disclosure is necessary or appropriate in order to: (i) protect, enforce, or defend the legal rights, privacy, safety, operations, or property of Amplify, our parents, subsidiaries or affiliates or our or their employees, agents and contractors (including enforcement of our agreements, including our terms of use); (ii) protect the rights, safety, privacy, security or property of users of the Site or others; (iii) protect against fraud or for risk management purposes; (iv) comply with the law or legal process, including laws outside your country of residence; (v) respond to requests from public and government authorities, including those outside your country of residence; or (vi) allow us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain.

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.

7. Data retention We will retain your personal information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Policy unless a longer retention period is required or allowed by law.

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

10. Contact us If you have questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us at: Email: privacy@amplify.com Mail: Amplify, 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.

Holy Cow!

May 9, 2015

Ten Things You Need to Know About Amplify

By Carolyn Leith

The above article speaks for itself.

And… just what is an SBAC “blueprinting tool”?

Epilogue

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. 

inbloom 11Is the goal for our children to teach them, starting at 5, what matters the most, is passing tests?

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.

 

Passionately Submitted,

 RAZ ON FIRE

A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending

Bill Gates money has bought off many organizations to win them to his cause.  How many of these organizations have endorsed the CCSS Standards?

Guess.

Follow the money…

deutsch29

This is a post about Bill Gates and his money, a brief audit of his Common Core (CCSS) purchases. Before I delve into Gates accounting, allow me to set the stage with a bit of CCSS background.

A Bit of CCSS Background

It is important to those promoting CCSS that the public believes the idea that CCSS is “state-led.” The CCSS website reports as much and names two organizations as “coordinating” the “state-led” CCSS: The National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Interestingly, the CCSS website makes no mention of CCSS “architect” David Coleman:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our…

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