I hear alot from teachers and their concerns about Common Core and its "individually adaptive computerized standardized assessment process," which for me (and many others) has always been the central issue about the "program". (Why the quotation marks around "program"? Because it's a "program" in the sense that racketeering and Mafia "protection" is a program. It's a "program" in the sense that every nutty fad to come ouot of the progressive education movement since the 19th century has been a "program.") Putting parenthetical asides aside for the moment, the real problematic for me and many others - especially teachers - has always been the assessment process of the "program," and not the idea that there should be some "common core" or standard canon of knowledge in each discipline. This individually adaptive assessment process constitutes the true Orwellian horror at the heart of the "program" that reveals it to be nothing but corporate welfare and a vast expansion of the corporate surveillance state, paid for by you the taxpayer with your tax dollars, and utilizing your children as the unwilling - and perhaps unwitting - participants.
For stop and think about it, a computerized individually adaptive assessment process is the standardized test, on steroids, not only empowering that hidden and anonymous "test preparing 'elite'" even more, but one which now allows the corporations preparing and administering such tests to build up all sorts of profiles and to mine data, while making everyone else pay for it. Profiles from the individual and his or her habits, to profiles of regions, demographic groups, and so on.
Of course, all of this has been fervently denied by the corporations and billionaire busybodies involved. "Oh no! We would never mine data from the Common Core assessment process! We respect the students' privacy!"
And if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale, cheap.
Consider this bit of news that was shared with me by a few teachers:
Now, in case you missed it, let me point it out for you:
NYSED’s emails to the Gates Foundation about inBloom and Wireless Generation from 2012 are below; highlights include a dinner party at Merryl Tisch’s home, to which Commissioner King invites an array of corporate reform leaders — to the dismay of Joe Scantlebury of the Gates Foundation. Also amusing is their account when I crashed a Gates-sponsored ” SLC Learning Camp” designed to lure software developers into designing products to take advantage of the wealth of personal student data to be gathered and shared by inBloom.
Her fourth entry details the controversy roiling inBloom and its final death throes.
She introduces this last entry:
This post, the final one with excerpts from the emails I FOILed from NYSED, documents the rise and fall of inBloom; through their communications to officials at the Gates Foundation and assorted consultants and allied organizations. inBloom was formally launched as a separate corporation in Feb. 2013 and died in April 2014, after little more than one year of existence. These fourteen months were marked by myriad public relations and political disasters, as the Gates Foundation’s plans for data collection and disclosure experienced national exposure for the first time and fierce parent opposition in the eight inBloom states and districts outside NY.
Once parents in the rest of the country learned through blogs and news articles of the Foundation’s plans to upload onto a data cloud and facilitate the sharing of their children’s most sensitive personal information with for-profit vendors, their protests grew ever more intense, and inBloom’s proponents were powerless to convince them that the benefits outweighed the risks. Though the Gates Foundation had hired a phalanx of communications and PR advisers, they were never able to come up with a convincing rationale for inBloom’s existence, or one that would justify this “data store”, as they called it, that cost them more than $100 million dollars to create.
This is, essentially, corroboration and confirmation of my and others' suspicions, and which I and my co-author in the forthcoming book Rotten to the (Common) Core, suspected all along, that the "program" isn't about improving education. It's simply another bit of corporate welfare and yet another intrusion of the surveillance state and culture into one's private life. It is, so to speak the front end of the other surveillance programs emplaced and "legitimized" since 9./11. It has nothing to do with educational improvement, and everything to do with data mining and collection and making you pay for it. It is the ultimate manifestation of the Progressivist Faith and its shahadah: there is no God but Government, and the Program is its Prophet. And its ultimate, and I am bold to suggest, eschatological goal is the creation of the technology of the Akashic records, the "Book of (Digital) Life," where all one's choices, preferences, deeds, decisions, are tracked and monitored from cradle to grave; it is the creation of a book - or, if I may be permitted to borrow the observation of Catherine Austin Fitts, the "control file" - created for each individual "account" monitored by a technological "god" and its "priests," the hidden technocrats and billionaire busybodies that oversee it.
And it's a system destined to fail just as the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels failed, for the system will be the demise of poetry, literature, mathematics, philosophy... in short, of independent human critical thought and ability; the technocrats become consumed by the technology and dumbed down themselves to the point they can no longer maintain the great technological infrastructure they have created. And at that point, the system begins to crack and crumble. Corruption and greed are the name of the day, and in the end, this is not the foundation of any civilization or civil society.
It's that assessment process that's the rotten core of Common Core, for the real heart of the issue is the computerized adaptive tests, programmed by far off and anonymous "experts" with no real hands-on personal contact with the individual student, that is designed to mine data, and reduce everything human, to being cogs and bytes in a machine.
I for one say simply:
See you on the flip side...