by Karen R. Effrem, MD
Just as the Common Core pushing textbook publishing giants like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson have had financial incentive to support Jeb Bush and his now former organization, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), corporate cronyism is also alive and well via those companies involved in Big Data.
The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a corporate-backed front group that spends all its time trying to portray the ugly and invasive womb-to-tomb data grab and psychological profiling of our children as helpful, necessary, and the government’s right. They strongly support the incredibly invasive Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) which sadly has already passed the Senate after an unannounced voice vote, with fawning praise after an earlier version passed the House in 2014:
DQC sees immense value in the ability to link data across early childhood education, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems. The most pressing questions for education stakeholders (alignment, feedback, etc.) require data to be shared from disparate collections, which means that it’s vital to align these systems to effectively answer these questions. SETRA would require grantees to do that. By linking data systems across the P–20/workforce spectrum, states will gain the ability to evaluate whether students, schools, and districts are meeting their college- and career-readiness expectations. [Emphasis added]
DQC also loves having data on the workings of our children’s minds:
Early warning systems (EWS) are one of the best examples of transforming data into actionable information that, when used effectively, can improve student outcomes. EWS, developed around research-based indicators such as student academic performance (grades) and attendance and discipline records, help educators accurately and quickly identify students who are most at risk of academic failure, not being on track to graduate college and career ready, or dropping out of school. Early identification of students who are at risk enables educators, principals, and counselors to provide students with additional supports in a timely way to help them succeed by addressing their unique academic, social, and emotional needs. [Emphasis added]
This is despite the fact that the social emotional (a.k.a. non-cognitive, 21st century) skills are extraordinarily subjective as admitted by experts in both education and psychiatry. Here are just a couple of examples:
There is still no agreement about their meaning or even their selection over a period of ten years:
Challenges Involved in Infant and Early Childhood Diagnosis
“Diagnostic classifications for infancy are still being developed and validated…”
“Lack of longitudinal outcome studies”
“Broad parameters for determining socioemotional outcomes are not clearly defined” (National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy Addressing Social Emotional Development and Infant Mental Health in Early Childhood Systems 2005 [Emphasis added]
Engage the Community in Collectively Defining SEL Standards
“The process of collectively defining standards provides a great way to address the first two pitfalls. Developing collective standards and engaging all stakeholders in the process of constructing the standard help to ensure that everyone understands and supports the implementation of the learning standards.” – Social and Emotional Learning Research Review: Avoiding Pitfalls 12/1/2015
“Childhood and adolescence being developmental phases, it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between phenomena that are part of normal development and others that are abnormal.” (World Health Organization (2001) World Health Report)
With whom does DQC work to achieve these goals that are in opposition to privacy and parental rights? There are several important connections to Jeb Bush and FEE. Their website lists FEE as a partner, and the following screenshot shows some of their funders:
The Center for Responsive Politics reveals that one of DQC’s major funders, Exxon Mobil, has close ties to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign via their CEO, Rex Tillerson, who has contributed both to the campaign and to his affiliated Super PAC, Right to Rise.
Tillerson is infamous both for not so veiled threats against states like Florida and Pennsylvania, who contemplated delaying or backing away from Common Core, and even more so for calling students “products”, and “defective” ones at that, unless taught under Common Core:
But Tillerson articulates his view in a fashion unlikely to resonate with the average parent. “I’m not sure public schools understand that we’re their customer – that we, the business community, are your customer,” said Tillerson . . . “What they [schools] don’t understand is they are producing a product at the end of that high school graduation. . . . Now is that product in a form that we, the customer, can use it? Or is it defective, and we’re not interested? [American schools] have got to step up the performance level – or they’re basically turning out defective products that have no future. [Emphasis added]
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, whose foundation is the world’s largest Common Core funder as well as being involved in many Big Data efforts like the invasive and failed inBloom, has contributed at least $3.5 million (FEE’s 2014 donations do not appear on their list and all donations are listed in ranges) to Bush’s foundation, mostly while Bush was still chairman, to continue the Common Core effort:
Another DQC funder, AT&T, has also funded FEE for at least $55,000.
Ordinary parents do not have millions of dollars at their disposal to fight these data grabbers, but they do have the strongest bond of love as they use their consumer dollars and their votes to protect the minds, hearts, privacy, and futures of their precious children. Contact your U.S. House member and let them know that failure to ask for a recorded vote on SETRA and/or a ‘yes’ vote on the bill are actions in support of the psychological invasion of our children and the destruction of parental rights. And it is important to contact the presidential campaigns with the same message.