How AIR wants to use big-data on our children

Watch this video of Julia Lane, Institute Fellow at American Institutes for Research (AIR)—Utah’s testing agent for SAGE tests. The following are excerpts of some of her quotes, with my translations:

“It’s impossible to get informed consent about collecting big-data.”
… (TRANSLATION-“We can’t wait for you, the parent, to understand our need to collect your child’s data. We’ll need to change public policies at the federal and state level without your consent. We can unilaterally do this by lobbying legislators to stomp out your parental rights.”)

“Google knows where you are every single minute of the day”
… (TRANSLATION-“We couldn’t let Google have a monopoly over big-data, so we partnered with them in 2012. Now, we can drill down on what your child is doing and thinking. Luckily, your child will be using Google Chromebooks soon to learn and take SAGE tests. Once we get every child on a one-to-one device, we can continuously assess your child’s skills through the technology without them having to take a formal test—or be at school!”)

“The private sector has been using the data to make a lot of money.”
… (TRANSLATION-“We deserve to make obscene amounts of money, too, by tracking your child’s thinking patterns from PreK to Workforce. Then, we can manipulate their education data to spread the wealth right back into our coffers.”)

“In the public sector, we tend not to use those data.”
… (TRANSLATION-“We don’t see a need to follow ethical rules anymore. Everybody else is collecting big-data. We deserve big-data on your child! Your natural right to direct your child’s learning is getting in the way of US doing it. We deserve to control their learning!”)

“The good that is being lost is incalculably high.”
… (TRANSLATION-“We can’t save your child because you won’t let us track their personal learning. We must be able to track what they think from PreK to Workforce—for the good of the collective.”)

“The rules that exist are no longer clear and are probably no longer applicable.”
… (TRANSLATION-“We don’t think federal or state privacy laws are fair. We will unilaterally decide how Utah’s state policies will be changed so that we can track your child’s personal learning styles, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s for the good of the collective, of course!”)

11 thoughts on “How AIR wants to use big-data on our children”

  1. Thank you, Jakell. This information needs to be widely shared. If enough people saw this video and understood its implications, we’d see school test-boycotting numbers going through the roof.

    1. Chanelle, It appears that AIR has produced a series of short marketing videos like this one. I’m not sure if a longer video is available, but if you find one, please post it here! Thank you.

  2. JaKell, what qualifications do you to speak on this? Do you work with big data? Do you work with technology?

    What positive results do you think we can hope to see from the use of big data?

    1. John, I hope you will respond again. I appreciate your questions. I’m not sure how to take them exactly. They come off a little bit like what parents are hearing from elite education reformers, “You don’t like change. And, you’re old fashioned in your approach to education. This is the 21st Century and we’re preparing your kids to compete in a global economy. Just trust us. We’re the experts. You’re just a parent.” The qualification from whence I speak is that I have been researching AIR’s global mission for two years and I do not share their objective for education: to use education as a means for social justice and to redistribute wealth (at the expense of the middle class) to private-interests (including AIR). As a wise friend stated, “We do not need data to set high standards. They need common standards to collect big-data.” AIR’s long history with and in the federal government exposes that they are putting themselves in a position to remake America’s entire education system in their image which devalues locally controlled education. Locally controlled education produces laboratories of innovation and protects individual liberty. I do not see a scenario where big-data will be valuable in education unless control is returned to local parents, teachers and communities who decide that’s an approach they want to use. The big-data approach should not be forced upon parents and taxpayers from an international or national level. Parents who would choose a classical approach to education, and who take their right and responsibility to direct their children’s educations seriously, deserve to have lawmakers who will stand accountable to them–not private-interests.

  3. I noticed you looked at my linkedin profile and hopefully you saw that I am very competent in technology and data. I understand that you think that these people are bad guys. But that has no bearing on is big data good or bad.

    I will take a few minutes some of the huge benefits you have already seen from big data and then some of the expected future benefits. I will then show how it applies to education.

    Traffic, big data techniques are used to monitor and predict traffic patterns and future needs. This greatly increases the value of road projects and significantly lowers the cost for taxpayers.

    Shopping, by using big data techniques stores are able to be much more efficient with their inventories which means lower prices for consumers like you.

    Advertising, better targeted advertising means that you are less likely to see irrelevant and also offensive ads.

    Expect to see in the future huge advances in medicine due to using big data to find cures for diseases. This was done hundreds of years ago by somebody mapping out cases of cholera in London and was able to tie it to an infected pump.

    As far as education the biggest gain I hope to see is customized learning. Right now I can listen to Pandora and it will figure out what music I like to listen to and customize an experience for me. What if we could do this for kids? I struggled with a lot of teachers in school but some teachers really reached me. Why? How can that be replicated?

    I understand that there are concerns. Realistically we are falling behind in a lot of areas. Just go to graduate classes in technology. I remember mine and they were mostly students from other countries. I see so many kids who can barely read and write. What if we could find a more powerful way to work with them and inspire them and help them achieve just like putting glasses on kids that are having a hard time seeing? What if they grew up as strong individuals with successes in school instead of failure and shame? Yes, you can say it is the parents responsibility but so many of these kids don’t come from families where that is going to happen. If society doesn’t get involved then they are forced to later through welfare or crime.

    Now, I am not saying common core is the answer. I am saying though that I really don’t think you understand the subject enough to translate for somebody. I know I would not like somebody doing that for something I said. I doubt you would either.

    1. John, The most relevant thing you said was, “I am not saying common core is the answer.” This statement touches on the reality of what has occurred. Outcome-based education has been a failure for our children and for this country for the decades that it’s been applied, yet “technocrats” keep trying to help children learn by ratcheting up the use of a flawed method. A country the size of America CANNOT individualize curriculum by nationalizing standards, aligning all the curricula to them, and collecting children’s data surrounding them. It is illogical. Teachers get to know children’s hearts and minds—the whole of the child—and, in this way, help them by teaching them about humanity, about caring, and about each child’s individual worth. Big-data companies can never know our children personally…except what fits into their “data profile.” Children are not inputs and outputs. We are not building a product, we are teaching and inspiring souls. In talking to a teacher at an inner city school this past year, she said that she is spending the majority of her time telling her students that they aren’t losers because their Common Core test scores have been so abysmal. She tells them “You are not a test score!” Likewise, great teachers cannot be reduced to test scores in the way the Common Core seeks to impose. Human beings can not be standardized in order to be individualized. AIR is not in the business of data collection to improve individual lives, they are in it to destroy individual liberty. No one can spend 10 minutes on their website and not understand that, unless they are blind to what creates individual liberty. Please check out this article entitled, “Technocrat Progressives Seek to Violate Your Child’s Privacy” and let’s talk again:

      1. Of course people aren’t test scores. But as you seem to imply that some teachers are far more effective than others. Why? Some methods are more effective for certain students. Why? This is modern science. With big data you can set up a hypothesis and try it out. You can learn and improve. Most of teaching is guesswork right now and sometimes teachers are able to connect with students but that is such a rare case. What if you could determine all of the best practices and combine them?

        You can tell a kid that they aren’t their test score but the fact is that they lack the knowledge or at least the ability to express it on the test. What if you could train a teacher with a few new techniques to help those kids learn much more effectively?

        I read the article you referenced and the first thing I noticed was name-calling and creating class divisions make poor replacements for good solid arguments backed up with data.

        Also, I personally find it offensive that you claim that other groups are have nefarious purposes. I see AIR’s mission as helping people become educated. Education is true freedom, not ignorance. So many people are slaves to their own ignorance. How can you make a free choice if you are not informed as to both sides of an issue?

        Can you really tell me that this isn’t a case of having your mind already made up and then searching for “facts” to justify your position?

        1. John, This is not a case of me having my mind already made up and searching for facts to justify my opinion. Big-Data has their mind up that Test Scores = Education and are collecting data on my children to justify their existence. You, and they, have flipped reality. And reality is, “I AM MY CHILD’S PARENT. MY CHILD’S PERSONAL INFORMATION IS MINE AND THEIRS. NOT YOURS.”

  4. Thank you, Sabrina! As several moms recently expressed, “Bill Gates will run out of money before we run out of love for our children. :-)

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