When LouisianaVoice broke the story about the stealth agreement between the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. whereby DOE would provide News Corp. with personal information on Louisiana’s public school students for use by a company affiliated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the resulting firestorm resulted in cancellation of the agreement.
Or did it?
Remember, too, that it was Murdoch who, in 2010, speaking of the enormous business opportunity in public education awaiting corporate America, said, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S.”
In June of 2012, Erin Bendily, assistant deputy superintendent for departmental support and former education policy adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal emailed Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White:
“I think we need to start with a very strong introduction and embed more CCSS (Common Core State Standards) alignment/integration throughout. This sounds harsh, but we should show that our current/old educator evaluation system is crap and the new system is stellar.”
Common Core, passed by the Legislature, was vetoed last Friday by Jindal who, like John Kerry and the $87 billion supplemental appropriation for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002, was for it before he was against it, but the controversy continues. Remember, it was our old friend Dave “Lefty” Lefkowith, that super commuter who flies back and forth between Baton Rouge and his Los Angeles home on a weekly basis, who first advised White to “forget” about communicating with the media or public about departmental plans to launch DOE’s Course Choice program in March 2013.
On Jan. 2, 2013, White emailed Lefkowith at 6:19 p.m., asking, “How we doing on communications? We have a huge launch in two months.”
“We just decided amongst ourselves: ‘Forget it,’” Lefkowith responded at 7:20 p.m. “Problem with that?”
“Fair,” White responded one minute later.
But at 6:53 p.m., 34 minutes after White’s email to Lefkowith and 27 minutes before Lefkowith’s response, White emailed Ken Bradford, assistant superintendent for the department’s Office of Content: “Okay. Time to start the blitz, as we roll up to launch.”
It was, however, the spate of emails scattered throughout the 119 pages of documents referencing the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), a project of the Gates Foundation that provided the link between the department and Murdoch and his News Corp. operation. Those emails confirmed the department’s intent to enter sensitive student and teacher information into a massive electronic data bank being built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corp.
“Over the next few months, the Gates Foundation plans to turn over all this personal data to another, as yet unnamed corporation, headed by Iwan Streichenberger, former marketing director of a(n) (Atlanta) company called Promethean that sells whiteboard,” according to a news release by Class Size Matters, a non-profit organization that advocates for class size reduction of New York City’s public schools.
It was that revelation that should cause Louisiana citizens in general and parents of school children in particular the most cause for alarm.
Class Size Matters in January of 2013 released a copy of a 68-page contract between SLC and the New York State Educational Department which said in part that there would be no guarantee that data would not be susceptible to intrusion or hacking, though “reasonable and appropriate measures” would be taken to protect information.
Remember that “reasonable and appropriate measures” claim. It comes into play later.
The Gates contract also allows for the unrestricted subcontracting of duties and obligations covered under the agreement.
Remembers Gates as well; it, too, becomes important momentarily.
Fast forward to March of this year.
“The Louisiana Department of Education, in partnership with 15 other states, conducted the first phase of the PARCC Field Test March 24-April 11,” came the boast from DOE.
Universal Pre-K in Seattle: Reasons to be cautious
I was looking through a memory book that I had put together when my daughter was a small child and came across her pre-school schedule. It goes like this:
8:30-9:00 AM: Free time: Blocks, books and coloring
9:00-9:30 AM: Circle: French, Spanish, German and sign. (The children and teacher would sing songs in different languages and one teacher would sign while she spoke to the students. They would rotate languages each day.)
9:30- 10:00 AM: Outside: In the garden.
10:00- 11:30 AM: Classes: Art, Listening Comprehension, Music, Large Motor Activity, etc.
11:30- noon: Lunch: Manners and Language Development.
The children in my daughter’s pre-school also learned the alphabet, their numbers and how to write their names. The rest of the time they were absorbing new experiences, exploring their world, learning how to work together and get along with each other and having fun in the process. Having fun at school during that time was very important to me. I wanted my daughter to equate learning and school to a positive experience.
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