Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman

And people wonder why families homeschool?

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My uncle just sent me a link to this article. In it, the author discusses a company called inBloom. The article makes a number of claims:

1. A commercial company, named inBloom, is trialling cloud-based software to:

collect information from student records and use it to individualize the education a student receives

2. The information that is being collected includes, among other worrying tidbits:

The data elements that the inBloom database is set up to collect include “Pregnant Teen,” “Unschooled Refugee,” “Foster Care,” and “Removed by Child Protective Services.” It also includes whether, in a disciplinary incident, a student was a “Victim,” “Perpetrator,” “Witness,” or “Reporter.”

3. The data will be used to offer what is described as individualised instruction, however, much of that will be from third party, commercial providers.

4. inBloom is a “joint venture of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation” however, it has a “long list of corporate partners” including:

Amazon, Dell, and Scholastic (maker of The Magic School Busand The Magic Treehouse children’s book series). Originally, inBloom was known as the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), a Gates Foundation- and NewsCorp-backed organization that had been quietly developing a “set of shared technology services” for several years, in order to “connect student data and instructional materials”.

5. The article notes that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are actively for privatising schools and standardised testing. The latter is a topic I’ll be discussing in more detail in coming articles.

6. There are some problems with the privacy of the data collected as Leonie Haimson, the executive director of an advocacy organisation for small class sizes, notes,

There’s not a single school district that’s allowing parents the right of consent, or to opt out of the program,

In addition, she notes that there is a:

lack of certainty in inBloom’s own privacy policy, which states that the company “cannot guarantee the security of the information” or that the “information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted”.

7. In addition, Josh Golin, the associate director of The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), an advocacy group which seeks to decommercialise the lives of American children, argues that:

The role of the teacher is to input data, to be a data collector, and to pass on lessons designed by algorithms and apps back to their students. The expertise is in the cloud, not in the teacher.

If you think that it’s okay that this data can be collected about your child, held on an insecure cloud-based server and used to individualise the instruciton your child receives, often from commercial companies, then I think that’s great. We’re moving in a direction you’ll be super happy with. However, I think this is a worry. I also think it’s a further move to deprofessionalise teachers and to disassociate parents from their role in their children’s educaiton. It’s worrying.

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8 Responses to “And people wonder why families homeschool?”

  1. sage_brush

    Very worrisome. Everything is being mined, including this blog, I expect. Home schooling is the only chance we have

    Reply
    • Rebecca English

      Not as far as I know, but we do like to copy whatever whizz-bang new thing the US does, even when we know it doesn’t work. Sad, isn’t it?

      Reply
      • cindy0803

        Yes, it is. Especially considering that my opinion is that the US education system is in the doldrums (I live in the US). But if Australia wanted to copy something, they should probably copy Massachusetts. Their system seems to be working.

      • Rebecca English

        I think we need to stick to what we’ve always done, but people can’t follow the “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it” mentality!

  2. cindy0803

    I’m not sure what grade you teach. My daughter finished 3rd grade this year. I homeschooled her this past year and plan to continue homeschooling. She went to public school K-2.

    It is so hard to discuss education because where you are in the system colors how you perceive it. I tend to focus on elementary education and think it is very important. Most people in my community focus on Middle School and High School and put all their money and effort toward those grades.

    Reply
    • Rebecca English

      Yes, that’s my experience of studying school choice. Here, private schools are ‘affordable’ (they’re government funded), so parents generally send their children to government (free) primary school (p-6) but pay for private secondary schools.

      I used to teach high school, mostly senior secondary, but now I teach teacher education students at uni.

      Reply

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