Sunday, December 15, 2013

Astroturfers at Manhattan CCSS night; Institutional Reasons for Low Parent Turnout

*New research on data systems gives parents strong reason to remain fearful of data breaches of children's data in inBloom
NYSED Commissioner John King and Merryl Tisch's faith-based (as opposed to tried, tested and honestly internationally benchmarked) standards promo campaign gospel ("I believe in the Common Core" -John King) Common Core States (sic) Standards tour came to Manhattan Wednesday night. The event was clearly exploited by astroturf groups such as the rabidly anti-union and anti-professional teacher Educators4 (sic) Excellence. With their canned use of high school graduates or high school students that have nary been impacted by the Core as have fourth graders, this was a night for promoting the Core  in a fashion that had many of the hallmarks of a Madison Avenue or Frank Luntz-managed campaign.

And as Perdido Street School blog reports, this was indeed orchestrated, as he indicated with Epoch Times Thursday in "In Oddly Similar Terms, Parents Exalt the Common Core" reports of scripts and suspiciously well-timed cheers. And in contrast to the Common Core gospel tour of the last few weeks we hear John King react to the audience, indeed, responding to certain concerns of audience speakers.
For a frank, first hand account, read, "John King’s Flying Circus Lands in Lower Manhattan."
As of Sunday, December 15, NYSED still is holding off on giving dates or locations of the Queens or Staten Island meetings. Guess E4E and StudentsFirst need more time to rehearse their talking points.

Defiance: Adamantly for inBloom
A speaker blasted New York State and its commitment to contiuning the contract with inBloom, with a specific question pointed to King. The commissioner, in words that he will surely eat at some point in the next two years was adamant, albeit in his usual genteel (somnolent) soft-spoken way, insisting that inBloom is secure, that New York is going forward.

And yet, the New York Times Friday story, "Schools Use Web Tools, and Data Is Seen at Risk" gives added grounds to be suspicious about NYSED claims of inBloom security.
The Times reported,
A study, which is expected to be released on Friday, by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School in New York, found weaknesses in the protection of student information in the contracts that school districts sign when outsourcing web-based tasks to service companies.

Many contracts, the study found, failed to list the type of information collected while others did not prohibit vendors from selling personal details — like names, contact information or health status — or using that information for marketing purposes.

“We found that when school districts are transferring student information to cloud service providers, by and large key privacy protections are absent from those arrangements,” said Joel R. Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham who led the study. “We’re worried about the implications for students over time, how their personal information may be used or misused.”
But aside from a few parents from Change the Stakes and teachers from the United Federation of Teachers new Movement of Rank and File (MORE) caucus, we heard from few parents critical of the Common Core standards and their ancillary high stakes tests. The lack of parental participation is sadly not too shocking in the city. For the shift away from Board of Education to mayoral control under the Department of Education, has meant a shift from popular, democratic input and thus engagement in the educational policy of the city. Furthermore, with mayor Michael Bloomberg's smoke and mirrors "school choice" program, tens of thousands of students are traveling far from home, with 90 or 120 minute commutes not uncommon. With the effectual destruction of the neighborhood school at the high school level and increasingly the lower grades, far fewer children are going to district schools.  All of this adds up to parents' being less involved in school-level educational concerns.

So with the essential disenfranchisement of New Yorkers is it any wonder that fewer parents were involved in the schools.  Another scandal, which we hope that incoming mayor Bill deBlasio will rectify.