Thursday, September 15, 2016

Opt Out of Opt Out

Personalized Learning: A Threat to Education

Over the past three years I have opted out.  I've helped hundreds of parents and encouraged thousands more to opt their kids out of standardized tests too.  Each year our opt out "movement" has grown exponentially.  We were well connected, well informed and ready to battle against all things related to standardized testing.  We appeared to be well on our way to being a part of a change to the testing climate in schools across the country.

The changes coming to education as a result of federal and state level educational policies and the opt out movement turns out to be  worse than the testing and ALL the related issues surrounding standardized tests.

We are at a pivotal turning point in history.  There has been a transformation in education that has been slowly and quietly creeping in for decades and we are at the end days of education as we all know it, and we don't even know it.

Parents have increasingly opted out because:

  • Students are over tested
  • Students should have a broader curriculum that includes Arts and Humanities
  • Students are unique individuals not standardized.
  • Students learn in different ways at a different pace.
  • Students are more than a test score.

Ed-tech corporations feel the same way.  Students should take less tests and be assessed as individuals who should be able to learn at their own pace because they are more than a test score!

What does that really mean?  Here is where the pivotal turning point in history happens.  It's called Competency Based Education (CBE) or Mass Customized Learning (MCL).  Essentially, under the guise of 'personalized learning' it's education done with technology (computer devices) rather than humans (teachers) on a large scale level, like worldwide. 

We have it already, every state does.  In Pennsylvania where I reside, our schools use Study Island, CDT's and other similar online programs as well as hybrid courses.  Hybrid courses are where students are in a classroom with a teacher for 1-2 days and the rest of the coursework is done online, usually during a study hall or at home.  As the transition to more technology-based educational programs is occurring, critical and damaging changes are happening to the student-teacher and student-peer relationships.

High quality certified teachers will be deemed unnecessary in a classroom with increasing class sizes, replaced by facilitators who just need to monitor that students are on task on their devices.  Think about that for a moment.  Teachers who have 6-8 years of college education, and years of teacher experience in classrooms with student interaction will be obsolete, replaced by low-pay, inexperienced, untrained facilitators.  Then add the harmful impact of children being on a device for many hours a day to the physical, mental and emotional health of students - things are moving in the wrong direction, fast!!

Opt out has created the awareness that students are being tested too much and that the big test in the spring is complicated, unreliable and expensive.  With that opt out has given parents a way to protect their children from the testing and data mining.  However, the opt out movement has fed directly into the Ed-tech politically and financially driven corporate reforms, perfectly.  The problem was created with the poorly written tests, scores that don't come back in a timely or useful manner and lack of transparency of the actual tests.  Then backlash came from parents who opted out.  The problem was created, festered for a few years, and now big changes are imminent.  Over the next year, with the transition to ESSA into each state the educational environment with continue to change, this time it's going to be drastic.

There won't be a big test in the spring to opt out of, assessments will be embedded into the curriculum via 'stealth' assessments because students, teachers and parents won't know when a student is being assessed.  Nor will they know what content is being used with each student - an online, adaptive curriculum that will be disconnected from teachers and parents.  Online programs created by corporations who have little to no background or training in education, subject content areas or what is developmentally appropriate for children at each grade level.  Data-mining will be massive with the capacity to track students at every key stroke.

Soon, parents will not be able to opt out.  That is intentional thanks to our federal and state legislators and the Ed-tech corporations who create and make billions of dollars off the backs of students.

The time to take action is now.  Some things parents can do are:

  • Decline or refuse Google Apps for Education (GAFE)
  • Decline a google email account for your student
  • Request a group or anonymous ID for login
  • Request paper/pencil 
  • Write to your local and state legislators
For more helpful information:

wrenchinthegears writes:  Stop!  Don't opt out.  Read this first.

Opt out families are being set up as pawns in this fake “assessment reform” movement. I began to realize this a year ago when our dysfunctional, Broad Superintendent-led school district was suddenly almost eager to help us inform parents of their rights to opt out. It wasn’t until the ESSA passed, and I started learning more about competency-based education, out-of-school time learning, and workforce badging that the bigger picture came into focus.

Peggy Robertson, Busted Pencils: Opt Out is Dead
“The key is refusing the online testing and curriculum IN MASS. One person trying to do this alone has a hard road and a slim chance of succeeding – ultimately this online curriculum will be tied to grades (and already is in many cities), therefore making it more challenging to refuse.  Parents and citizens, in mass, who speak to the school board, who publicize their desire to refuse this online curriculum, can win. Expose it. Gather support. And REFUSE IT. Demand authentic learning by authentic teachers in democratic classroom settings.”
Cheri Kiesecker, Missouri Education Watchdog: ABCs of Classrooms at Risk: Don’t Just Opt Out
“Ask your school what online vendors (like Knewton) they use. Ask to see data contracts, the data collected and shared. Ask why your child is exposed to more and more screen time, and industrial strength Wi-Fi at school. Ask to have the radiation levels measured, and ask to follow these best practices when using Wi-Fi.  Ask to have amount of screen time documented and limited to pediatrician recommended limits.  Remember your child’s  classroom, your child,  is being subjected to much more than just one end of the year test. When you think Opt Out, think big.  Think more. Think Protect the Child….all year.”

Kevin Ohlandt, Exceptional Delaware: Opt Out as we know it is dead. Long live the badge.
If you are with me and agree, join me.  Join those of us, across the country, who believe children should not be guinea pigs for futurists and their money-making agendas.  Talk to your legislators.  Find out what upcoming legislation would allow this future, whether it is Blockchain technology or something else.  Look for “Pay for Success” legislation which has corporations hedge bets based on student outcomes, otherwise known as Social Impact Bonds.  Tell them to fight this and advocate for the restoration of FERPA to pre-2011 levels.  Speak out and share information with other parents and friends.  Opt Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment is dead.  It is now time to opt out of anything which will bring this future to pass and will cause more harm to your children than anything before.
Emily Talmage, Saving Maine’s Schools: Parents: Time to Step Up Our Game
“It’s time for us to dial up the original Opt Out spirit – the one that wasn’t afraid to say hell no – and realize that we’re going to need to extend this fight way beyond the big end-of-year-test.
Data-mining.  Key-stroke tracking.  Collection of sensitive personal information that ends up in the hands of advertisers.  Digital badging.  Unhealthy amounts of screen time. Growing class sizes. Depleted school budgets.
If I sound alarmist, it’s because I’m a mom and a teacher, so we’re talking about my kids here. I am seriously alarmed.”