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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Personalized Learning, Surveillance and Counterinsurgency within the State-Finance Matrix

Personalized Learning, Surveillance and Counterinsurgency within the State-Finance Matrix | Mythos: Education, Political Economy and Culture:

Personalized Learning, Surveillance and Counterinsurgency within the State-Finance Matrix

The Role of Big Data, EdTech and Militarized Austerity within America’s Authoritarian Democracy 

“The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed to ‘personalize’ and ‘adapt’ learning for students in public school districts across the United States” –Jesse Irwin, Model View Culture
The state-finance matrix defined: Influenced by David Harvey’s notion of the state-financenexus, the state-finance matrix is a highly disciplined neoliberal landscape where state power structures and technologies facilitate and protect the activities and interests of finance capitalism over all else. This matrix provides an insulated environment for financialization via securitization, which simply described, is a process where financial institutions bundle together (illiquid) financial assets – primarily loans – and transform them into (liquid) tradable securities that can be expeditiously bought and sold in secondary financial markets. Within this globalized environment, digital securities trading – including “fictitious” trading, hedging and speculating in derivative markets – generates “phantom wealth”; whereby the exchange of capital, money and currency is detached from material or labor value. In the twenty-first century, debt is the new global currency and is a primary source of (intangible) wealth accumulation.
Rebooting the System for a New Age
Writing in Forbes Magazine in 2013, technology entrepreneur Naveen Jain made an assessment of the historical origins of mass public education by pointing out that, “Our education system was developed for an industrial era.” Jain went on to explain that the U.S. education system,
…today uses the mass production style manufacturing process of standardization. This process requires raw material that is grouped together based on a specific criteria. Those raw materials are then moved from one station to another station where an expert makes a small modification given the small amount of time given to complete their task. At the end of the assembly line, these assembled goods are standardized tested to see if they meet certain criteria before they are moved to the next advanced assembly line.
Jain makes this point not as a critique of education serving the interests of capitalism through the application of the scientific management model of production (Taylorism) to schooling. On the contrary, he does so to make a case that current education reform policies are a continuation of the original mission of U.S. public education as an instrument of social control, yet only being modernized to bolster financialized capitalism. As Jain puts it, “Our education system is not broken, it has just become obsolete.” He goes on to explain: 
When I think of all the tremendous, seemingly impossible feats made possible by entrepreneurs, I am amazed that more has not been done to reinvent our education system. I want all entrepreneurs to take notice that this is a multi-hundred billion dollar opportunity that’s ripe for disruption.
The means by which such financial “opportunities” reside by “reinventing” education are made more explicit when Jain goes on to claim, “Rethinking education starts with embracing our individuality…[j]ust think of the opportunities we can unlock by making education as addictive as a video game” by flipping the current model on its head and use “technology to focus on our learners.” Using the same historical context that Jain does to support this argument, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools (and rising star in the education reform industry), Alberto Carvalho decreed in 2015, “Unfortunately, for most American students the old factory model of education still applies. This is a recipe for failure and frustration. We cannot address Digital Age needs with Industrial Age education.” Carvalho goes on to claim:
We must leave behind us the days of sorting students by age and instruction by subject. More and more, our 8th-graders are studying alongside 6th-graders of similar ability, interests and readiness. After all, we aren’t grouped by age in the employment marketplace. No one told Mark Zuckerberg he couldn’t be CEO of Facebook because he wasn’t born the same year as Bill Gates.
Jain and Carvalho’s edicts are an integral part of the education technology (EdTech) industry’s marketing narrative, as a driving force and beneficiary of the financialization of public education. Be it venture philanthropists, federal and state policymakers or EdTech executives, the current mission of education reform is to “reinvent” education, propelled by a narrative of benevolent intent and remedied by meeting the needs of financial markets through embracing education technologies. In doing so, the EdTech industry promotes its products as being student-centered, competency-based “anytime-anywhere learning” or more specifically as “personalized learning.” According to its advocates, personalized learning simply means the differentiation of digitized coursework for students based on their different skill levels that allows them to engage in learning activities at their own pace through the use of digital tools. Accordingly, the Gates Foundation claims on its Personalized Learning page, “In personalized learning, the student is the leader, and the teacher is the activator and the advisor.” On its Digital Tools and Content page, the foundation goes on to report that personalized learning Personalized Learning, Surveillance and Counterinsurgency within the State-Finance Matrix | Mythos: Education, Political Economy and Culture:

In politically hot Sacramento, no contest for several prominent school boards | The Sacramento Bee

In politically hot Sacramento, no contest for several prominent school boards | The Sacramento Bee:

In politically hot Sacramento, no contest for several prominent school boards


In a city where politics is sport, Sacramento City Unified School District board races have attracted rising political stars and gobs of campaign money over the years.
But for the first time in decades, the capital city’s school district couldn’t attract enough candidates for a single competitive race in the November general election, allowing two incumbents and two aspirants to quietly take board seats without having to shake a single voter’s hand.
The ballot shutout doesn’t stop at Sacramento City Unified. Two other large Sacramento County districts, San Juan and Folsom Cordova, also will have no contests. Three people will slide into four-year terms at San Juan and two will become trustees for Folsom Cordova without a vote cast.
It’s been more than 20 years since all candidates have been uncontested in either San Juan or the Sacramento City districts. In the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, no-vote elections are becoming the norm. In the last two trustee elections, in 2012 and 2014, all candidates were unopposed, said outgoing Trustee Teresa Stanley.
“We’re just taking it that we’re doing something right. Because nobody wants to get in there and stir things up,” Stanley said.
But Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, said voters suffer by a lack of competition at the ballot.
“Elections are a process where you pitch your ideas and hope people agree with them,” she said. “And if they do, you get elected and they hold you accountable. If there is no election, we don’t have that accountability process unfolding as it’s supposed to.”
Two years ago, school board campaigns in Sacramento City Unified were grueling and costly. Total fundraising reached nearly $200,000 by election day, including $50,000 spent by the Sacramento City Teachers Association on behalf of four candidates.
The teachers union spent heavily in an attempt to defeat trustee Jay Hansen, who has called for the district to reconsider its employee benefits and focus on reducing pension obligations. An SCTA mailer showed Hansen, first appointed in 2012, as a shotgun-toting, cigar-chomping trustee.
He survived, buoyed in part by $31,000 from California Charter Schools Association.
“I was a bit jealous,” Hansen said when asked about this year’s lack of competition. He thought the tenor of the presidential campaign may have played a role.
“It’s so vitriolic at the national level,” he said. “I’ve talked to people who are turned off by the whole thought of public office.”
When trustee Gustavo Arroyo decided earlier this month not to run for re-election, he said he “made the rounds” to let people know he appreciated their support. But he made no formal announcement. And the teachers association did not put forth a candidate for his seat.
Only one person filed for the post: Sacramento City College adjunct instructor Michael Minnick. He said he was surprised when he learned he was the only candidate in the race.
“It’s a little anti-climactic without an election night,” he said. “It didn’t occur to me at any point that I could be done by August. What is awesome about this is I have four months to get connected with the neighborhood,” which includes Tahoe Park, Glen Elder and other south area neighborhoods.
This time, the teachers association is backing only one candidate, Mai Vang, said SCTA 1st Vice President David Fisher.
Vang is a community activist who helped wage an unsuccessful campaign in 2013 to block school closures in underserved Sacramento neighborhoods. She replaces two-term trustee Diana Rodriguez, who announced Aug. 3 she would not run again. The seat represents south area neighborhoods, including Florin and Meadowview.
Two incumbents will get new four-year terms to the Sacramento school board: Christina Pritchett, this year’s president who is finishing her first term in office, and Jessie Ryan, elected in 2014 to fill a mid-term vacancy.
Alexander said the limited number of candidates could be linked to a crisis in civic engagement nationally.
“We live in a time when the majority of people eligible to vote don’t vote,” she said. “ManyIn politically hot Sacramento, no contest for several prominent school boards | The Sacramento Bee:

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Even the National Charter School Association Says California’s Charter Oversight is Deficient | Diane Ravitch's blog

Even the National Charter School Association Says California’s Charter Oversight is Deficient | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Even the National Charter School Association Says California’s Charter Oversight is Deficient

Greg Richmond, president and chief executive of the National Association of Charter Authorizers, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling on the state to overhaul the selection of those that can authorize charter schools. At present, the process is a free-for-all, and almost anyone can open a charter school. Local boards are authorizers; county boards are authorizers; if both of them turn down an applicant, the applicant can appeal to the state board and overturn the local and county boards.
California is awash in charter schools. According to a recent report by the ACLU, at least 20% of them engage in illegal discrimination to keep out the students they don’t want.
California also has had a steady parade of scandals, of charter owners who line their pockets with taxpayers’ money.
Will the state clean up the sector? Will it establish accountability and transparency, both for authorizers and for the charter schools? Or will the powerful California Charter School Association fight reform legislation every step of the way, calling in the debts owed by legislators who accepted their campaign cash?Even the National Charter School Association Says California’s Charter Oversight is Deficient | Diane Ravitch's blog:
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United Opt Out National - The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform

United Opt Out National - Home:

The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform

United Opt Out National serves as a focused point of unyielding resistance to corporate education reform. We demand an equitably funded, democratically based, anti-racist, desegregated public school system for all Americans that prepares students to exercise compassionate and critical decision making with civic virtue.

Our Movement

United Opt Out National, Inc. is registered as a nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Florida since the fall of 2011. As the opt out movement grows, we grow - sometimes in different directions and sometimes together - as we adjust to policy changes that impact our schools.  We, the administrators of UOO, are now focused on the acquisition and the restoration of the civil and human rights for our public school communities, the students that attend public schools, the parents who send their children to public schools, and the citizens who support public schools via their time, efforts, and tax dollars. 

Our Goals

1. Push legislators to embrace "the original intent of Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was to facilitate equitable, thriving, and successful public education for all schools via distribution of funding free of strings attached other than need and a comprehensive and viable game plan for success.

2. Push for the collection of data that reveals how resources are allocated to schools: funding, qualified instructors, textual materials, curricula, support facilities, diverse students and support staffs, and technology. Well resourced and integrated individual schools, districts, and states help to mitigate many of the harmful effects of racism and poverty.

3. Push for protections for quality pedagogy, the teaching profession, and public school funding that the newly legislated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) attempts to tear down via the push toward isolationist computer based digital instruction that facilitates indoctrination, free for all data mining, and compromised cognitive, physical, and social development; the alternative teacher certification programs that place unqualified people in classrooms, and the unregulated charter industry that strips public schools of resources, increases segregation, and allows for theft of public money.

4. Continue the expansion of the Opt Out movement in communities that have not been largely activated though are the majority of those most badly compromised - non-whites, students with disabilities, second language, and the impoverished -with support from major civil rights groups whom we have helped to "see the light."

5. Facilitate election campaigns for school boards, federal and state legislative bodies, PTA /PTSA, union leadership, and local community leadership.

6. Devise a list of direct actions for local, state, and national public education advocacy. 
Over the last four years we have been successful in making Opt Out mainstream, and we have been successful in encouraging and supporting direct actions all across our nation. We will continue to be a part of the solution.

7. Join the campaign to fight Citizens United.
We plan to organize and work alongside individuals and organizations who are fighting Citizens United.

Your Voice

We continue to need your help, your support, and your voice in the battle to demand an equitably funded democratically based, anti-racist, desegregated public school system for all American citizens and residents that prepares students to exercise compassionate and critical decision making with civic virtue.

Visit the Contact and In the News pages for your voices. You will find state contact person emails, links shared by activist to various state and district testing policies, opt out letter templates for high stakes testing and digital instruction; and links to state and district support groups. These resources will replace our state guides and provide more up to date resources for parents, students, and teachers. These are your spaces to build!  We ask that you email links and newsworthy items to, and we will post them.United Opt Out National - Home:

A WIN for Education in Florida Today! | THE OPT OUT FLORIDA NETWORK

Don’t Forget that Our Stories Count - Sign AB1726 — Hmong Innovating Politics

Don’t Forget that Our Stories Count - Sign AB1726 — Hmong Innovating Politics:

Don’t Forget that Our Stories Count - Sign AB1726

Written By: Jonathan Tran, HIP Member. Content reflects Mr. Tran's personal opinions and do not reflect the position of any other organization

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Like so many other Southeast Asian families, my parents worked A LOT. They took multiple shifts and worked overtime whenever they could. That left the child rearing during those long hours to my “ah kong” (grandpa) and “ah ma” (grandma). One of my earliest memories was a casual day with ah kong in the garden we had in the backyard. He paused from his yard work when I came up behind him. I distinctly remember him reaching into a massive bucket, his face beaming with excitement and pulling out a giant guava the size of my head. I didn’t appreciate this until I was older, but growing a mutant-sized guava in the desert of Los Angeles is no easy task. I could feel the pride he had in this monstrosity of a fruit because of all the labor and time he had put into growing and cultivating it.
I was too young to remember most of the stories ah kong would tell me about coming to the United States as refugees from Vietnam--so most of what I know comes from stories I heard from my dad. There was nothing in those stories that made ah kong sound extraordinary. His family grew up painfully poor in Southern China and the economic conditions were so awful that his family uprooted and moved to Vietnam. His story in Vietnam was not particularly spectacular either as he worked as a garment merchant selling children’s clothing sewn by my grandma in local markets in Vietnam. His harrowing journey to America--surviving war, escaping Vietnam as a boat person, living over a year in a refugee camp in Indonesia; is heartbreaking but also shared by many others who had to endure similar or worse tragedies. There’s no one single story about my grandpa that stands out for me. Instead, I remember my grandpa’s collective narrative--the persistent grit and grind and sacrifice at every stage of his life. In many ways, the pride that ah kongexpressed with the giant guava fruit was a microcosm of the same type of grit and grind that he had known all of Don’t Forget that Our Stories Count - Sign AB1726 — Hmong Innovating Politics:

Hmong Innovating Politics

Catch up with CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Children and Opt Out Win



FL: Children and Opt Out Win
When last we cast our gaze at the sunshine state, its deep love of testing had gotten it dragged into court. Florida's indefensible third-grade retention rule says that a student can't move on to fourth grade without passing that test, and while some districts saw an alternate path in portfolios and other alternative assessments, other districts collided with opt out families . If the child has no


Guest Post: Is Integration Too Much Bother?
It's my pleasure to feature a guest post from Rita Rathbone, a teacher and blogger in NC. She writes regularly at Patiently Impatient. The debate over charter schools has slowly spread into wider and wider circles of public discourse. In response to data supported concerns that charter schools are contributing to the resegregation of our schools, the NAACP and Black Lives Matter have expressed co
Should We Close Schools for Low Performance?
Over at Rick Hess's EdWeek blog, guest blogger Deven Carlson (Poli Sci, Oklahoma U) considers the question of whether or not schools that show low performance . In the process, he illuminates some of the deeply flawed premises under which reformsters operate. He opens by noting that school closure has been a popular policy approach since the days of No Child Left Behind. The logic of closing low-p

AUG 25

Alan Watts: Life Is Not a Journey
I've encountered this quoted material from Alan Watts, specifically his lecture Out of Your MInd, multiple times in the last few days in a video featuring the audio from the lecture and cobbled-together clips from Tree of Life. I don't really want to repeat the "borrowing" of the film clips, though Watts's delivery is pretty special. You can quibble with his use of "journey,"
PA: Open Letter To My Legislators
To Senator Scott Hutchinson and Rep. R. Lee James Dear Scott and R. Lee: It is long past time to regulate the cyber charter school industry in Pennsylvania. Perhaps you saw the news yesterday that Nicholas Trombetta finally pled guilty to federal tax conspiracy charges. Trombetta was the founder of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Beaver County, a business that he used to steal at least $8

AUG 24

13 Deadly Sins of PD
In my neck of the woods, this is the magical week in which teachers go back to balance their time between finishing room preparation and sitting through year-launching professional development sessions. Some sessions can address useful topics, and some are unfortunate choices (my wife's district decided to welcome their teachers back for the year by starting their first day with a session about su
Voting with Their Feet
One feature of "unleashing the power of the free market" in education is supposed to be a sort of regulation by the market's infamous invisible hand. Customers will "vote with their feet," driving the bad actors out of business. In this country, there will always be an argument to be had about how well this really works. It's one of the dances of freedom and commerce that we ha

AUG 23

Can We Filter Out Bad Teachers?
Last February, Chad Aldeman and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel, working at Bellwether Partners (a right-tilted reformy-favoring thinky tank) released a report that asked the question "Is it possible to ensure teachers are ready on day one?" and answered that question in the title: " No Guarantees. " Now Aldeman is back with a look at some specific tools for filtering out the chaff, rai
Why Are Teachers Burning Out?
It has been half a year since Campbell Brown took over the LA School Repor t, but the site still occasionally publishes something that's not bunk. Reader Bill Spangler brought this next piece to my attention, and it's worth a look. " Why Teachers Are Burning Out " is the second in a five-part series about teacher turnover. The first piece in the series looked at how high the LA turnover
Let The Vergara Whining Begin
Vergara is dead (probably, mostly). The California lawsuit brought by gabillionaire anti-union, pro-charter reformsters has finally had a well-deserved stake driven through its non-existent heart. When the appeals court shot it down, the determined that while one might imagine that in some imaginary alternative universe without tenure laws, students might get better teachers, the statutes do not a
John Oliver on Charter Schools
I hope you've seen this by now. But if you haven't, or you just lost the link, or you were going to get around to it someday, then watch it now. Oliver does not address the philosophy behind charters, the types of charter malpractice like No Excuses, or the ways that charters leech money from public schools. But boy does he nail the corruption, the lack of oversight, and the distinction-without-a-

AUG 22

How Do Unions Really Affect Schools?
Back in February, Eunice Han at Wellesley College put out a paper entitled " The Myth of Unions' Overprotection of Teachers: Evidence from the District-Teacher Matched Panel Data on Teacher Turnover ." Han reaches some really interesting and, perhaps for some folks, counter-intuitive findings, and they're worth a look. But full disclosure right up front-- I can't really make sense out of

AUG 21

Resolve To Be Present
For the next couple of weeks, as the beginning of my school year approaches. I'm going to write to renew my resolve to keep focus in my practice. This is one of that series of posts. If teaching is about relationship (and I believe most definitely that it is), then it must follow the First Rule of Relationships, which is that the first thing one must do to be in a relationship is show up. There a
Feds Testing Plan, Part II (Still Clueless)
You may recall that almost a year ago, President Obama and his administration announced that they'd noticed that testing was out of control in schools, and maybe somebody should do something about that. (Actually, if your memory's good, you may recall they had the same epiphany two years ago .) This led to the announcement of a Testing Action Plan that did not so much rearrange deck chairs as it c
Education and Profit
Even as many charter fans are backing away from the idea of for-profit schools, last month found US News running this piece arguing that profit-making and education go together like a horse and carriage. The author is Ian Lindquist , a 2009 graduate of St. John's College (the read great books people), former charter school teacher, and current fellow at AEI. Lindquist wants us to know that the pro
ICYMI: Mid-August Edition
I'm embarrassed that I haven't been saying this all along, but if you find something on this list that speaks to you, be sure to share it on your own networks. Amplifying voices is important, and you can do that just by tweeting and posting anything you find that you like directly. Don't share this post (not just this post) but share the original post that I've linked to. Teacher Education and a C

AUG 20

PA: Charters Spend Less on Teaching
This week the Pennsylvania School Boards Association released a report looking at what charter schools are doing with all that taxpayer money. Short answer-- spending a whole lot of it on administration, and not quite so much on actual