Guest Post: Your Data Will Lie To You If You Let It

By Eric (Big “E”) Mihelbergel: Eric Mihelbergel resides outside of Buffalo, NY with his wife and two daughters. His education advocacy, which started in his hometown of Tonawanda, has spread across the entire state of New York.  Mihelbergel is a founding member of the groups New York State Allies for Public Education and Western New Yorkers for Public Education. He is an active member of the Opt Out movement and administers the Facebook page NYS Refuse the Tests. Along with Leonie Haimson from New York City, Eric and I will be presenting at this upcoming forum in November.

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One of the great flaws of human nature is that our ego makes us suddenly believe that things magically become more important if we measure them. Data does not exist naturally in the universe. It is a human invention, and thus it is based on human assumptions. Data itself has no power. But all too often humans allow data to tell lies. Continue reading

Governing Outside the Public Sphere? Here’s Another Gates Funded Anti-Public Education Billionaire Front Group 

Bill Gates and venture philanthropy in general have been in the news lately[1] and I don’t believe the attention has been all that welcome in those circles. There is a lot of evidence these “disruptive innovators” are on the defensive. I take the Gates funded Higher Education for Higher Standards group rallying some higher education “leaders” into lip synching the Common Core chorus to be a rather frank admission of concern.   Continue reading

  1. See here and most notably, here — the Foundation is also the subject of a protest this coming week.

Engaging the Public in Discussing the Common Core and the Privatization of Public Education

The June issue of Buffalo Spree has a piece by Bruce Adams, entitle Education Counterrevolution, in which I’m featured; I also introduced the article, along with Buffalo Spree editor Elizabeth Licata, on AM Buffalo yesterday as well.

In the coming weeks, I will keynote two events, during which I’ll summarize my latest findings regarding the political significance of the Common Core Standards Initiative, and where I think these findings point us. The article in Buffalo Spree has generated more interest in serious discussion about the Common Core agenda, serving to counter propaganda that opposition to the Core only comes from a few “fringe elements” who don’t “care about the kids.” It along with the upcoming forums described below can serve to involve more people in discussion about what is taking place in public education. Those who wish to dismantle public education have historically used the summer to hatch their plans, expecting passivity among parents and teachers as the school year comes to an end. These events can contribute to energizing the public. Continue reading

High Stakes Tests as Forced Intellectual Labor?

In this recent story we read:

Tracy and Mary Finney thought they were meeting with the principal at West Side Elementary in Marietta, Georgia, this morning to discuss their choice to opt out of Standardized State Testing for their children. Instead, they were met by a police officer who told the Finney’s that their decision to “oppose something the school is trying to do” is considered “kind of a trespassing situation.”

“I certainly didn’t wake up this morning thinking I was going to meet with police at my children’s school,” said Tracy Finney, father of 9-year-old and 11-year-old students attending West Side Elementary.

Continue reading

$1.5 Billion and Counting: It’s Not Just What He Bought, But What He’s Building

An increasing number of students, parents, educators and community members have entered the public domain and created space for their views critical of the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI), the ever-increasing emphasis on testing, and the collection and sharing of students’ private data against parents’ will. The Opt Out movement grows as legal will moves farther from that consciously expressed by an increasingly frustrated public, upsetting those who believe money alone makes history. The big education data mining company, inBloom, now lies dormant, on account of public action against it.  Continue reading

Common Core Forum Rescheduled

Learn More about the Common Core

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 7:00pm-9:00pm
Unitarian Universalist Church, 695 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222

Because of the Winter Storm Warning issued for Wed, March 12, we have canceled the Common Core Forum on that day and rescheduled it for Tuesday, March 18, 2012, same time and place.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mark Garrison, Professor, Education Policy and Research, D’Youville College

Panel:

• Robert Christmann, Executive Director WNY Services Council
• Dr. Mira Tetkowski Berkley, Assoc. Professor, Early Childhood, SUNY Fredonia
• Molly Dana, MA, Curriculum Instruction; West Seneca Parent
• Danilo Lawvere, Teacher, Iroquois Central; Amherst Parent

Areas of Discussion:

• Origin of Common Core Standards (CCS)
• Relation of CCS to No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top
• Implementation
• Relation to testing
• Privacy concerns

Co-sponsor: Social Justice Task Force, Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo

Free parking on Elmwood and on West Ferry. Everyone welcome. For more information please call LWVBN office at 884-3550

Failed Implementation, or Failed Governance? On the Possibility of a Common Core Moratorium

Many are now discussing the possibility of a moratorium on the Common Core in New York State. This possibility poses significant questions that should be pursued.[1]

The key question to start with is, how should such a proposal be evaluated? How are members of the public and professional educators to determine whether or not the moratorium is a Trojan horse or if it is a space to broaden the discussion about what education policy is required in New York State, enabling the public to have a say? Continue reading

  1. Just as I posted this piece, the Regents announced the following moratorium, Adjustment Options to Common Core Implementation. Governor Cuomo responded to the announcement here.

Upcoming Event: Evaluating “Big Data” Workshop

This workshop presents a new model of how to evaluate an education reform and offers participants a chance to practice using the model. As a case application, the model is used to evaluate the rise of Big Data and what is called “personalized learning” (in K-12 contexts) or “learner analytics” (in post-secondary contexts). The aim of the workshop is to better enable participants to evaluate a reform from the point of view of both classroom practice and system functioning. By understanding what drives current education reform efforts and who supports and opposes them, educators are better equipped to understand what is at stake in terms of classroom practice and for education that serve the public good. Participants will be guided through an online investigation of the rise of Big Data in education and an analysis of their findings. Participants will be provided with a variety of online resources that will help them analyze any education reform.

I will be joined by one of my students whose dissertation focuses on the role of “Big Data” in the privatization of public education.

Register here!

 

The Political and Psychological Essence of High Stakes Testing

Two upcoming events I’ll be participating in highlight the need to re-think the fundamentals of how we govern our schools and how we think about motivating the students and educators who work in them. The first event: the “Southtowns Education Summit” in East Aurora this coming Thursday. At that event, I’ll focus on the political nature and history of high stakes testing. The second event is a workshop I’ve organized along with my colleague to present an alternative way to think about student motivation. It will run on Tuesday, January 28. Both events are premised on the need to carefully think about the nature of high-stakes testing and to take up concrete work to propose alternatives. Continue reading