What Is The Cost of a Home Visit?

Home visits by the government are apparently the new thing across state legislatures in the U.S. See below for a list of bills and why these could pose a risk to your family’s privacy.

Before you put out the welcome mat and  assume ‘Home Visits are great; it is helping kids’…  Please consider this:  What is the trade off?  Services for newborns, pregnant mothers and children already exist without Home Visits to tell you about them.

Home visits should not be a required, forced prerequisite to receive services.

If you must hand over your citizenship status, your family’s personal medical and mental health information, marital status, income, race,  answer questions about depression, family interactions, tobacco use, infant’s gestation, birth order, developmental delays, immunizations, etc. in order to receive services or information about services, this is coercive.

If in doubt about the data collected, take a look at this document entitled, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program Performance Indicators and Systems Outcomes Data Collection & Reporting Manual from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; be sure to review the lists of personal data elements collected and how they are used as performance indicators.  Many (all?) of these Home Visit programs leverage federal Medicaid monies to pay for services. If you are unfamiliar with the questions asked on a Medicaid form, see this Colorado Medicaid form which families must complete to receive mental health services. As you can see from proposed state legislation below, Home Visits can be forced,  sometimes without your permission. Forced data collection is invasive, especially when we know data can be used against you, can be used to profile and deny services.

Information about family, early childhood services is already readily available.

Information about services for families is readily available, often (as in the case of Washington) directly mailed to families, is already posted on websites, in hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics, at food banks, libraries, phone books and schools.  Are Home Visits really about informing parents about available services?

Home Visits & leveraging your personal information.

If data collection isn’t the main focus of Home Visit programs, ask WHY, in states like Washington, amendments (below) to protect personal information, make data collection and sharing voluntary and transparent, have been killed.  With every state bill posted below, we wonder if bill sponsors would consider adding opt-in CONSENT and transparency before personal information is collected and shared. 

Is personal data the price of a home visit?

Wrench in the Gears recently wrote about this, brilliantly documenting how Home Visit legislation sweeping the nation is a well connected, well funded Moneyball scheme based on data collection.  (See MEWs prior piece on Moneyball for Kids and see who are the All Star Moneyball for Government Players in your state.)  Home Visits are disguised as charity but are actually a profit based invasive data grab, turning people and personal information into human capital and predictive numbers. Wrench in the Gears writes:

Home Visit Legislation: A Sales Pitch For Family Surveillance?  “It tells the tale of a sweeping program of “collective impact” cultivated by consultancies like Third Sector Capital PartnersFSG, and the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Strive Together, a non-profit program incubated in Cincinnati, OH under the wing of Gates Foundation-funded Knowledgeworks (promoter of learning ecosystems), will carry out the program.”–Read this Wrench in the Gears piece. Look at the maps. Follow the money.

A List of State ‘Home Visit’ bills for 2019.

Below are a few states with current Home Visit legislation.  If you don’t see your state, click this NCSL bill tracker and check back often, to see if your state has already passed Home Visits, Early Childhood Visits, mandated Universal Mental Health Screenings.

Colorado has SB102 bill which permits a public school to include in its innovation plan that it will operate as a community school. Community schools are tied to the federal law, ESSA.  Community Schools require Home Visits and mandatory community, parent, child surveys.  Colorado’s Governor appointed an Education Leadership Council who has recently  released this report to guide the state’s future education strategies. The report cites Marc Tucker’s work on lifelong work based learning and K-12 education as a building block for a workforce databadges aka, credentials. The Colorado report has been lauded as a Culture Shift in Education in which many Colorado education bills (including this Community Schools Bill) will be generated.  (See powerpoint presentation and listen to testimony by  Representative Bob Rankin at the Colorado State Board Februrary 14, 2019.)

Illinois has introduced a bill, HB3560, that says if you want to home school, you will be visited by the Child Protective Services.   Yikes.

Iowa has S111Medicaid Managed Care Newborn Visitation Services.  The bills says the department of human services shall contractually require a Medicaid managed care organization to provide at least one evidence-based home visit for every newborn.

Iowa also has a bill, HF 272, that mandates school district board of directors to conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety of private home schooled children. The home visits shall take place in the child’s residence and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted.  Apparently, you can’t say no.  

“If permission to enter the home to interview or observe the child is refused, the juvenile court or district court upon a showing of probable cause may authorize the person making the home visit to enter the home and interview or observe the child.”

Is it weird that they can come into your home, without your permission? What constitutes probable cause?  Simply because you home school? Or maybe if you are Black? White? Muslim? Christian?  Immigrant?  The 4th Amendment says probable cause means when you have reason to believe that a crime has been committed and that evidence of the crime will be found in the place to be searched.   Is home schooling a crime? 

Maine has H97 which appropriates funds for home visiting services to provide child development education and skills development for new parents.

Minnesota has S671, the GREAT START FOR ALL MINNESOTA CHILDREN ACT which creates funding and opportunities for children ages prenatal to three; home visiting prenatal to 3, public school/head start birth to 3 education, early childhood education, and child care assistance birth to 3 years for all MN infants and toddlers. This bill details the Great Start Fund in state treasury for birth to 3 education in the schools. Also, various grant programs will target primarily low income, ethnic, and high risk population. Home visit and birth to 3 education is offered to all families

New Hampshire has NH S 274, Newborn Home Visiting Program which declares that the Newborn Home Visiting Program shall be available to all Medicaid eligible families.

New Mexico has NM S 290 Medicaid Home Visiting Services and Council which requires the secretary of human services to establish Medicaid home visiting services.

Ohio has OH 7 Executive Order, that creates the Governor’s Advisory Council on Home Visitation looking at evidence based home visiting programs.

Oregon has OR S 526 Licensed Health Care Providers Study that directs state Health Authority to study home visiting by licensed health care providers, requires report to interim committee of Legislative Assembly related to health care and declares an emergency.

Washington (the home state of Microsoft) wants to be a leader in Home Visits and data collection; so we will highlight a few interesting points about Washington Home Visit legislation.  WA has an “emergency”  bill  WA H1771 / S5683 called “The Baby Act”, that says if you have a baby, you may be visited by “allied professionals” from the State government(A note on Emergency Clauses in bills, this basically means citizens have no recourse.)  The WA Baby Act creates a universal home visit program for newborns and creates a state run family linkage. Parents and privacy advocates are asking legislators to STOP the WA Baby Act.  Will they listen or are they too far down this home visit path?

According to this CCSSO publication,

“The Washington state legislature created the Home Visiting Services Account in 2010 to blend federal, state, and private dollars to efficiently and effectively serve families across the state with high-impact, home visiting services. Home visiting is part of the state’s commitment to early learning. A strong public-private partnership – inclusive of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Early Learning, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Services, and Thrive Washington – guides implementation of the state’s Early Learning Plan and Birth to Three Plan.”

Watch February 5, 2019 testimony on this bill, HB1771.  Starting at about the 39 minute mark, you will hear a representative from Washington’s Governor Inslee state,

“I am excited to be here today, in support of this bill which is Governor Requested legislation…that will make Washington a national leader for statewide Home Visiting…“–Michelle Davis, Executive Director of WA Board of Health, Representing Governor Inslee [Emphasis added]

At the 44 minute mark, Representative Griffey asks a good question about protecting personal medical information. He states,“I’m a health care provider Emergency Medical Technician have been for thirty three years. I just want to make sure that we have a firm grasp on HIPAA and that medical information that we have is going to stay. I found that many bills that we’ve worked on here we don’t have the same HIPAA once you transfer information to a state agency the health care protect Health Care Information Protection Act doesn’t apply and I want to make sure that we have tight sideboards on this and could you talk to that please?” [Emphasis added] 

Ms. Davis responds without answering the question. Instead she refers to prior testimony from Durham, SC  Home Visit Family Connects program, that Washington would like to model,

“So as you heard from the folks at Durham they’ve implemented this program across the country and so they do have expertise in help but they are medical professionals who have worked on this so we can provide you with more information about health privacy of the families who are receiving the services.”

If Home Visits are so wonderful, why must they be forced on citizens and why can’t parents consent to how their family’s data are shared?

Why did Washington legislators kill amendments that would protect privacy and would have guaranteed Home Visits as an opt-in program, and would have given parents transparency on how Home Visit data are used?

See these Proposed Amendments on Washington Baby Act: that were killed by Washington State legislators. Ask yourself why.

What if you refuse Home Visits? Will this turn into a big red flag that labels you as a risk? 

What if you really can’t say “No”? 

What if the WA Baby Act with Home Visits becomes mandatory, gets changed like another “voluntary” WA bill did? (In 2015, WA HB1491, The Early Start Act, was changed in the legislative process. The bill reads voluntary in some areas but also removed the word voluntary in another area. The bill states that if you receive state funding, you must participate in this Early Start program that collects longitudinal data: “EARLY ACHIEVERS, QUALITY RATING, AND IMPROVEMENT SYSTEM….The department, in collaboration with tribal governments and community and statewide partners, shall implement a ((voluntary)) quality rating and improvement system, called the early achievers program. Approved early childhood education and assistance program providers receiving state-funded support must participate in the early achievers program by the required deadlines.) 

Washington also has an ACES bill, HB1925, that creates an ACES pilot to track Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).  Watch this February 13, 2019 testimony where HB1925 ACES is the first bill presented.

“…our Department of Health administers the child profile health promotion system a program that mails information [about services currently available] to parents of children up to the age of six; those materials include age specific reminders for parents about well child checkups immunizations and other information Adverse Childhood Experiences or Aces. [These] are indicators of severe childhood stressors and family dysfunction experienced before the age of eighteen that can negatively impact a person’s physical and behavioral health Ace’s indicators include child abuse and neglect alcohol or substance abuse in the home mental illness depression or suicidal behaviors in the home incarceration of a family member witnessing intimate partner violence and parent divorce or separation.”

If you aren’t familiar with ACES, and predictive profiling, I again direct you to Wrench in the Gearswho shares that “ACES will be a crucial pubic health concern, my fear is that ACE prevention and mitigation interventions will become vehicles for “innovative” finance and will expand profiling of vulnerable populations.”  Read more on ACES here.

Protecting children and preventing child abuse is good but predictive analytics can be wrong.

The data you provide can be shared, re-shared, and analyzed.

With Home Visits, you will be scored.  Unless specific opt-in consent and transparency provisions are put in place, and are enforceable,  the data Home Visits collect can be analyzed, (profiled?), shared with researchers, businesses, nonprofits or any government agency.  You should be aware of a new federal law HR4174mandating “data interoperability”, data sharing across all agencies.

You should also be aware of a current U.S. Department of Homeland Defense biometric data collection programHomeland Advanced Recognition Technology, HART, tied to services and benefits of US. citizens, much like China’s Sesame Credit and India’s Aadhaar.

Personal Property, Personal Rights, and Personal Privacy

Your home is your property and should be protected against warrantless search and seizure. Your data should also be YOUR property.  Surveys collecting students’ personal beliefs on sensitive topics must have prior informed parent consent under federal law PPRA. Home Visits, mental health screening should be no different.

Don’t be so quick to put out the welcome mat for any Home Visit legislation unless it implicitly guarantees opt-in consent, and is not a condition of receiving services, and allows parents to see and choose how their family’s data is used or shared.


A few references as to why we are so focused on infants, toddlers (zero to three years old) and Early Learning data:  ROI and human capital. 

Obama, 2015: The Economics of early childhood investments.

From Zero to Three, 2010Key components of an Early Childhood visitation system.

From Zero to Three, 2013: Race to the Top federal Early Learning challenge grants 

Zero to Three targets are:

  1. Early Learning Guidelines;
  2. Infant and early childhood mental health; and
  3. Connecting families to appropriate services.

From Zero to Three, 2014 : Meeting the Challenge, Full Report

This article, released in June 2014, discusses how the most recent ELC grantees (Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont) are targeting infants and toddlers. Additional resources and excerpts from the full article can be found here. The full article explores topics including:

  • Developing and Integrating Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers
  • Professional Development of the Infant-Toddler Workforce
  • Expansion of Home Visiting
  • Building Capacity in High-Need Communities
  • Engaging and Supporting Families
  • Connecting Families to Appropriate Services

Arne Duncan Cradle to Career tracking, 2010

Strive Cradle to Career

NGA Early Childhood Education: Federal policy should champion coordination and collaboration across Child Care Development Block Grants, Home Visiting

CCSSO: Equity starts early. How Chiefs will build High-Quality Early Education.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2016:  THE MATERNAL, INFANT, AND EARLY CHILDHOOD HOME VISITING PROGRAM.  Home Visiting Performance Indicators and Statistics. PAGE 80 Appendix A and B.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Home Visit Model Effects


Online School Data Is Not Safe, Example #1,751,004

Photo credit: Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Associated Press reports that a former contractor with the Chicago Public Schools was charged with illegally downloading personal data of CPS employees.

They write:

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Simpson says Kristi Sims of Hickory Hills conducted background checks on district employees. She had access to the personal information of thousands of CPS employees, contractors and vendors.

Sims was arrested Thursday. Officials say they learned of the breach Wednesday. The data was allegedly stolen Tuesday…

… CPS Chief Operating Officer Arnie Rivera says the stolen information may have included employees’ names, addresses, dates of birth and criminal background information. Social security numbers were not included in the breached files.

Any online data, whether it is employee data or student data, is not 100 percent safe which is why schools should be extremely limited in what they store online.

Parents should contact their student’s schools to what student data they store online. 

Questions Parents Should Ask About Digital Curriculum

Photo Credit: Lexie Flickinger (CC-By-2.0)

Allison McDowell, a parent that writes at Wrench in the Gears, permitted me to publish the questions she developed in 2016 for parents to ask their children’s schools about the digital curriculum they use.

The questions are general and do not highlight specific programs so you should be able to utilize these in your community.

  1. Does the program require aggregating PII (personally identifiable information) from students to function properly? And even if it doesn’t REQUIRE it, does the program collect PII?
  2. Does the program supplement face-to-face human instruction or function as a substitute for it? How many minutes per day of face-to-face human instruction is being sacrificed or substituted? Will it lead to increased class sizes?
  3. Does the program encourage active student-to-student engagement and face-to-face discussion? How does it accomplish this? Or does it create an environment where kids are often working in isolation with their devices? How much of the time are students working alone with their devices?
  4. What are the associated costs with respect to your district’s budget (not just the program fees, but the devices required to operate it) and how will participation in the program affect other areas of the student experience? For example, given the austerity budgets many districts are experiencing, implementing a 1:1 device program to support digital curriculum could impact a school’s ability to offer art instruction, employ a school librarian, or provide a full range of extracurricular activities.
  5. How much screen time is involved, per day? per week? Consider the health impacts of machine-mediated teaching, especially on elementary school-age children.
  6. Does the program offer “training” or “education?” There is a difference.
  7. Will participating in the program expand student awareness of the larger world and allow them to engage with it on their own terms, or is it a way to channel students into a particular workforce sector?
  8. Does the program monitor, tutor, or assess behavior and social-emotional aspects of learning?
  9. Assuming the program is used during the school day, what is this program replacing? What aspect(s) of instruction formerly offered will be eliminated if this program is implemented?
  10. How does adopting a blended/hybrid learning program, which has been developed by outside interests, impact local control and autonomy within your school and district? What percentage of instructional time being turned over to outsourced online education results in your neighborhood school no longer fully being YOUR school? 10 percent? 25 percent? 40 percent?

HT: Seattle Education

The Use of Data Walls In Classrooms

An example of a data wall.

Data walls are an education trend implemented in some classrooms. The idea is that it would motivate students by providing them with a sense of their progress on assessments and where they stand in comparison to their classmates. Their identity is hidden, but teachers provide students a code so they can see their score and the unidentified scores of their classmates. Sometimes data walls are not displayed where students and parents can see (like in a teachers’ lounge), but in some cases they are.

EdSurge has a story that says data walls may cause more harm than good. You think?

Tina Nazerian, reporting for EdSurge, writes:

One such critic is Launa Hall. Back when she was a third grade teacher at a school in Virginia, Hall put up a data wall in her classroom. But the data wall, which tracked students’ scores on state standards, didn’t stay up for long. 

Hall, who chronicled her experience for the Washington Post back in 2016, wrote that the first morning after she put up the data wall, one of her students had a negative reaction. She “lowered her gaze to the floor and shuffled to her chair” after she saw where she was placed on the math achievement chart, she wrote. Since then, Hall has come to believe that the “public marking of where people are” is ineffective. 

“It doesn’t give them the actual tools to fix the problem,” she says. 

And what’s more, she doesn’t think public displays of their data tells students anything they don’t already know about their performance. Instead, she says data walls emphasize the wrong thing.

There are some kids that I am sure are motivated by this like those who do well. For those students who are struggling the data wall becomes a wall of shame. What a lame-brained idea, not to mention it would not be that hard for students to figure out whose scores belong to whose.

Read the full article.

Is Your Student’s School’s Website Mining Data?

The New York Times reports that information on school websites is not as safe as one would think. To answer the question posed in the title, as a website developer myself, I would say most school websites probably do collect some data, in fact, most websites collect data if they use any kind of analytic script in order to keep an eye on website traffic.

This is not particularly troublesome because it’s understandable that website owners want to know how many people are coming to the site and the information collected, by say Google Analytics, is very limited.

That is not always the case as E.K. Moore at the New York Times writes pointing out that the Pinellas County Schools (Florida) website did not just provide information for students and parents:

But Pinellas’s home page has been supplying information to another audience, an unseen one, as well this year. An array of tracking scripts were embedded in the site, designed to install snippets of computer code into the browsers of anyone clicking on it, to report their visits or track their movements as they traveled around the web.

Douglas Levin, an education tech expert told The New York Times that after a follow-up visit to the school district’s website a month after he informed them about the trackers he still found 22 trackers on their website. They are not alone. He examined 159 websites among the largest and most tech-savvy school districts and he found tracking scripts on all of them but one. Most of them, like what I discuss above are fairly benign and are designed to improve their websites, but that isn’t always the case:

But some trackers are also designed to recognize visitors by the I.P. address of their device and to embed cookies in their browsers for the advertising practice known as behavioral targeting. And knowingly or otherwise, many school sites are hosting software from third-party companies whose primary business is buying and selling data for the detailed dossiers of personal information on finances, lifestyle and buying habits that advertisers prize. Those third parties may invite still other trackers onto the site, without the school’s knowledge or control

And it is especially bad when that information is mined in order to sell.

“Schools shouldn’t be selling and marketing their kids’ data to third parties,” said Jules Polonetsky, chief executive of the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington think tank focused on data privacy. “Is that what’s happening? Do they know? If they can’t answer the question, that’s a big problem.”

Student lists are now available for purchase on the basis of ethnicity, affluence, religion, lifestyle, awkwardness and even a predicted need for family planning services, according to a study released in June by Fordham University’s Center on Law and Information Policy. Where that information was drawn from is mostly undisclosed, the study found.

It would behoove parents and taxpayers to contact their school to find out what their policy is, what tracking scripts are present on their school’s website, and what is done to protect data privacy. 

How Parents Can Push Back Against Troubling Trends in Education

The trend lines in public education are troubling. 

The system is relentlessly remolded from liberal-arts education to narrow workforce training to benefit politically connected corporations. Teachers are marginalized in favor of machines, as curricula move online and students are relegated to screens instead of face-to-face instruction. Sophisticated software platforms compile mountains of intensely personal data on the operation of the child’s mind. Digital tools, magnanimously provided to schools by Google, Facebook, etc., suck each student into that corporate universe and provide a steady stream of data to keep the profitable engines humming. 

Children are subjected to intrusive “surveys” about sensitive topics that are manifestly none of the government’s business, and class time is spent more on probing personalities than instilling knowledge. Students play classroom video games that are designed to “nudge” them into government-approved mindsets.

All the resulting data is analyzed, sorted, and fed into proprietary algorithms that can influence or even determine the child’s future paths. It may be sold – even to China – for purposes unknown to the student’s parents. Or it may be combined with other data troves within the federal government so that the omniscient State can know everything there is to know about the citizen – or, by virtue of new algorithms created when his data has been shaken and stirred, even things he doesn’t know about himself.

Especially since parents tend to give their own local schools high grades even if they’re disturbed by developments nationally, the tendency is to quietly surrender and hope for the best. But for the sake of our children and our society, surrender is not an option.

So what can be done?

For decades the education establishment, federal and state, has operated with practically free rein. Despite mini-revolts when the train really veered off the tracks (for example, the pushback against Outcome-Based Education, now called Competency-Based Education, in some states), by and large the educrats have done what they wanted. This situation must change, and it must start at the local level.

A few practical suggestions for parents. These suggestions address primarily data and privacy issues. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good start.

Pay close attention to digital technology in your child’s classroom. Demand to know what data the software is collecting and what happens to it. Request to see the vendor’s contract with the school, and especially the privacy policy that governs the data. If you’re not satisfied with what you find, refuse to let your child use that platform. Ditto regarding the use of platforms that don’t offer a parent portal so you can see what your child sees. Demand that the school provide an identifying number so that your child doesn’t use his own name on any platform. And as a general rule, tell the school your child is not allowed to play video games. Period.

Don’t allow your child to use Google Apps for Education or any school-issued device (including “wearables,” such as Fitbit). Give the school limits on how much time it can put your child on a screen. For more specific tech-related suggestions, see those from Allison McDowell and Cheri Kiesecker, here.

Don’t give the school any data about your child unless you understand the need for it. No, the school doesn’t need your kindergartner’s dental records; don’t provide them. Don’t give social security numbers either. 

Read everything the school sends home with your child, especially handbooks and other information at the beginning of the semester. This may be where the information about objectionable surveys is buried. Opt your child out of every survey. Every one.

HT to radio host Shannon Joy in New York: Teach your child to notice his educational surroundings and report to you when something seems amiss. If a test includes unusual questions, he should tell you. If he’s stuck on a screen in class longer than you have permitted, he should tell you. If he’s told to take a survey, he should politely decline until he gets your permission. (Opting out of assessments is its own category, not covered here.)

The initial reaction of administrators to your instructions will probably be incredulity. After all, they have rarely if ever been challenged. They’ll probably insist you can’t set these boundaries. But you can. You are in charge here, and unless they can show you a state or federal statute requiring you to subject your child to the objectionable mandate (hint: there is rarely such a statute), stand your ground. Get other parents to join you. Maybe we can take back education, one child at a time.

238 Education Data Bills Hit State Capitols in 2018 So Far

Photo credit: Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Data Quality Campaign (not our ally in the fight against data mining) provided a snapshot of the number of education data bills hitting state capitol buildings near you.

They report there are 238 bills related to education data this year so far, and less than a third (70) have anything to do with protecting student data privacy.

They highlight bills before state legislators this year where they are trying to “make data work for students.”

Addressing inequities and underserved students’ needs

Echoing national conversations about disciplinary disparities and the unique needs of traditionally underserved students, numerous state bills this year target the reporting of data to address education inequities. For example:

  • Tennessee is considering a bill (HB 2651) to establish a commission on the school-to-prison pipeline. The commission would submit a report to the legislature including school discipline data and policy recommendations to implement restorative justice practices.
  • Indiana has a new law (HB 1314) requiring a report on how the state’s homeless students and students in foster care fare in school and how these students could be better supported.

Informing policy decisions and meeting state goals

Nearly 100 bills considered so far in 2018 have focused on how state policymakers themselves can use aggregate data to make policy decisions or meet their state’s education goals. For example:

  • California has introduced a bill (SB 1224) to create a state longitudinal data system (SLDS) with student data from kindergarten enrollment to workforce entry—a system that could help inform education policies across the state.
  • Mississippi considered a bill (HB 405) to use the state’s education data system to better understand the state’s workforce needs.

Empowering the public with more information

Over 60 bills this year would require states to publicly report more, or more useful and accessible, information about their schools. For example:

  • New Jersey is considering a bill (A 2192) to include data on chronic absence and disciplinary suspensions on school report cards.
  • Arizona is considering a bill (SB 1411) to create a new dashboard as part of the state’s school achievement profiles with new data on academic progress and school quality.

Empowering educators and families with student data

In years past, legislators have not frequently used legislation to give educators and parents secure access to their own student’s data. This year is seeing some more legislative activity on this important priority. For example:

  • Louisiana is considering a bill (SB 107) to ensure that teachers receive student-level assessment results in a format that is easy to understand and includes longitudinal student data if possible.
  • Massachusetts is considering a bill (S 40) that would create an electronic data “backpack” program for foster youth. The backpack would contain a student’s education record and would be available to the adults authorized to make decisions for that student.

The best way to “make data work for students” is to not collect it without parental knowledge and consent and to keep it at the local school level with the teachers where it could possibly do some good. The problem is, evidenced by the Louisiana bill, when data gets collected it heads to the state (and the feds and who knows what other third parties) who don’t teach the kids and have no business having that data.

What Are Gubernatorial Candidates Saying About Education?

The tan colored states represent gubernatorial elections in 2018.

There are 36 gubernatorial contests in 2018 with 269 declared candidates. What are they saying about education?

According to Rick Hess and Sofia Gallo at American Enterprise Institute, not so much.

They wrote on Wednesday at Real Clear Policy:

So, during the first half of February, we used the National Governors Association website and Ballotpedia to identify the 269 declared gubernatorial candidates and then visited the websites for each. There were 121 candidates who had no website (a tiny handful) or who offered no information regarding their education positions. For the 148 candidates who had something to say on education — including 63 Republicans and 85 Democrats — we examined their sites to see what topics addressed and what they had to say. What did this exercise reveal?

First, there’s been a marked shift from many of the concerns that predominated 4 or 8 years ago. Candidates devoted little attention to topics like school accountability (mentioned by just nine candidates), teacher evaluation (mentioned by just five), or the Common Core (mentioned by 17). When testing and standards do arise, candidates don’t have many good things to say. For instance, the mentions of academic standards and the Common Core are overwhelmingly negative — with more than 80 percent denouncing them. Similarly, just one candidate makes a positive reference to testing; the other 19 candidates who mention the topic all promise to reduce the number of tests.

Second, the only educational issue that registered support from a majority of candidates was career and technical education (CTE), which received enthusiastic bipartisan backing. More than 60 candidates — including 40 Democrats and 24 Republicans — endorsed expanding CTE.

He also noted that there was little attention paid to school choice either positive or negative. I can vouch for this in Iowa, beyond school spending, CTE was part of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address. She also mentioned school choice, but through accessing 529 savings accounts used for parents to save for college, not ESAs or vouchers. She also discussed STEM.

He did note that when gubernatorial candidates talk about CTE they all don’t mean the same thing.

By “career and technical education,” some mean vocational schools while others mean apprenticeships; some are championing more high school programs while others are thinking about community college systems.

Reynolds pointed to a new program called Future Ready Iowa that will implement pre-apprenticeships for high school students.

For the most part, it’s been pretty quiet on the education front on matters of policy (beyond spending which is always an issue). In terms of trying to find candidates who will challenge top-down reform and repeal top-down standards, it is challenging.

As you look for a candidate to support you’ll have to take the initiative to get candidates to talk about standards, assessments, and data privacy. It’s much easier to ask your questions during the primary process than it will be the general election. If there are opportunities to get to meet candidates and ask them questions, be sure to take advantage of it. Of course, talk is cheap, be sure to check out their record if they’ve been in elected office as an incumbent governor or as a legislator.

I plan to highlight those who are speaking out against Common Core and top-down standards here.

Things to Come in K-12 Education: Predictions for 2018

The education system has changed so much so rapidly in the last fifteen to twenty years that it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen in the future.  Here are a few of my guesses for 2018.  These are not listed in any order of priority, importance, or non-importance.  They are numbered for reference purposes.
  1. Common Core will continue to be promoted and held up as the Holy Grail for education ails even in the face of mounting evidence showing it as a Wholly Fail. Evidence will continue to show Common Core is not closing the achievement gap, not raising achievement, not preparing students for success in college or career.  Decision makers will continue pushing Common Core while using unfounded sound bites as justification while ignoring evidence.  Many of the sound bites will be the same tried and untrue ones used for years now.
  2. States looking to write or adopt new standards or revise current ones will do as those before them have done—rebrand the Common Core with or without slight insignificant changes.
  3. The push for education for a workforce will continue to dominate over providing students with a well-rounded knowledge-based academic liberal education.
  4. There will be an increase in the number of data breaches compromising student, parent, and teacher privacy.  Breaches may occur at all levels—local school, district, state, federal, and third-party vendors.  When breaches occur, promises will be made to institute tighter security measures.  These promises will be made more to appease the public than to effectively prevent future breaches.
  5. Schools will continue to invest heavily in technology.  Devices will be relied on more and more to supposedly provide instruction.  There will continue to be an increase in schools issuing or providing devices like iPads and Chromebooks to all students.  Equity will be a term commonly used as justification for issuing devices as well as other decisions.
  6. The plethora of grade changes and manipulations to create the appearance of improved graduation rates will increase and become more evident.
  7. Systemic bullying of parents will continue to take place in the effort to prevent opting out.  States and districts will use ESSA as the justifying license for such action.  Students who are opted out of assessments will be officially mislabeled as non-proficient and the system will thwart any recourse attempts.
  8. Many areas of the country will have a growing concern related to lack of candidates for vacant teaching positions.  It is doubtful any real viable solutions will be applied to address the situation.  The same concern and lack of solutions applies for the existing insufficient pool of substitute teachers.  There may be an increase in hiring foreign nationals with H1B visas and TFA candidates (Teach for Awhile) but these are not really viable solutions.  These may be solutions to something else but they are not solutions to a teacher shortage problem.
  9. The convergence of science and technology will usher in the use of brain-enhancing drugs and brain implants to give greater competitive edge for serious Tour d’Educatione contenders as well as those abused by the system.
  10. The connected and elected will continue to increase the promotion, acceptance, and funding for SEL because it feels good.
  11. There will be an increase in the use of augmented reality in education and a move towards virtual reality as technology develops and costs decrease.
  12. As district and state education funds are cut, district and state spending for technology will increase leaving schools and teachers to grope and grovel for basic supplies, possibly including toilet paper.
  13. Continued erosion of teacher due process rights, job stability, and morale will pave a downhill slope for the teaching profession.  It is just possible these things may contribute to a lack of candidates for teaching vacancies but don’t expect the connected, elected, and decision makers to admit such a connection even if they see it.
  14. The connected and elected will continue to promote and foist personalized learning on our education system.  They will ignore the backlash and pushback of a growing corps of parents and others who do not wish children to be subjected to such personalized depersonalization.
  15. The use of social impact bonds (SIBs) will increase.  SIBs will change the nature of government, private sector, and foundation grants made for educational purposes.

An Example of How Data Clearinghouses Work: Google Pizza

Source: pixabay.com

This was sent to me via email. No one knows the author of this or I would give that person credit. It does a great job illustrating what data clearinghouses do and why Congress should reject the bill that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced.

I give you Google Pizza:

CALLER: Is this Gordon’s Pizza?
GOOGLE: No sir, it’s Google Pizza.
CALLER: I must have dialed a wrong number. Sorry.
GOOGLE: No sir, Google bought Gordon’s Pizza last month.
CALLER: OK. I would like to order a pizza.
GOOGLE: Do you want your usual, sir?

CALLER: My usual? You know me?
GOOGLE: According to our caller ID data sheet, the last 12 times you called you ordered
an extra-large pizza with three cheeses, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms
and meatballs on a thick crust.
CALLER: OK! That’s what I want …
GOOGLE: May I suggest that this time you order a pizza with ricotta, arugula,
sun-dried tomatoes and olives on a whole wheat gluten free thin crust?
CALLER: What? I detest vegetables.
GOOGLE: Your cholesterol is not good, sir.
CALLER: How the ###  do you know?
GOOGLE:   Well, we cross-referenced your home phone number with your medical records.
We have the result of your blood tests for the last 7 years.
CALLER: Okay, but I do not want your rotten vegetable pizza! I already take
medication for my cholesterol.
GOOGLE: Excuse me sir, but you have not taken your medication regularly.
According to our database, you only purchased a box of 30 cholesterol
tablets once, at Drug RX Network, 4 months ago.
CALLER: I bought more from another drugstore.
GOOGLE: That doesn’t show on your credit card statement.
CALLER: I paid in cash.
GOOGLE: But you did not withdraw enough cash according to your bank statement.
CALLER: I have other sources of cash.
GOOGLE: That doesn’t show on your last tax return unless you bought them using an
undeclared income source, which is against the law.
GOOGLE: I’m sorry, sir, we use such information only with the sole intention of helping you.
CALLER: Enough already! I’m sick to death of Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and
all the others. I’m going to an island without internet, cable TV,
where there is no cell phone service and no one to watch me or spy on me.
GOOGLE: I understand sir, but you need to renew your passport first. It expired 6 weeks ago…”