“Turning massive amounts of personal data about public school students to a private corporation without any public input is profoundly disturbing and irresponsible.”
~Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director
Data-mining is the new gold rush, with student data (which is sometimes referred to as human capital) forming the new mountain for conquest. Classrooms are the new West and grant money is the new pickaxe. Big Money, Big Tech, Big Philanthropies and start-up companies, along with the Big State comprise the ranks of the 21st Century’s “forty-niners.” Regardless of who is doing the mining and the collecting of our human capital – the Big State and its Big Beaurocracy, educational venture capitalists/companies like Knewton and DreamBox, Big Tech companies like Amazon and Google, or “venture philanthropists” like Zuckerberg and Gates with their infamous “schoolhouse commercialization” – this get-rich-quick scheme will inevitably have big consequences for student privacy and for the civilian-to-government, government-to-civilian relationship going forward.
A CASE STUDY: BRAINCO, INC.
The technology: One company among modernity’s forty-niners is BrainCo, Inc. which has created a headband to measure and collect students’ brain waves, or EEG’s. Data collected will then be sent to a teacher dashboard as part of the company’s FocusEDU program. The company purports the technology measures students’ level of attention, and claims that the EEG data collected will help teachers and administrators determine when each student is paying attention during a lesson and/or activity.
China, where the communist regime is always in search of new ways to spy on and, thus, manipulate its citizenry into submission, has ordered 20,000 of these devices. “Our goal with the first 20,000 devices, each of which will be used by multiple students in schools, is to capture data from 1.2 million people,” stated the CEO of BrainCo. “This will enable us to use artificial intelligence on what will be the world’s largest database to improve our algorithms for things like attention and emotion detection.” A school in Long Island is set to roll-out a trial of the headbands this year.
Flaw #1 – science disagrees: As Sandra Loo, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, has stated, there is no evidence supporting the idea of using EEG’s to determine attention level, as EEG data is not sophisticated enough to account for numerous variables, such as neurodiversity, which can result in “misleading assumptions about how an individual student is or what he or she needs” (Edsurge, 2017). Loo, who also directs Pediatric Neuropsychology at UCLA, explained, “Even in resting EEG, there are different subgroups [of brain activity]. It’s not just ADHD; there is variability in normal kids.”
Theodore Zanto, who directs OCSF’s neuroscience program, shares Loo’s concerns regarding the inaccuracy of BrainCo’s claim of using headbands to measure attention. “I haven’t seen any data indicating you can dissociate [in an EEG scan] if someone is paying attention to the teacher or their phone or just their own internal thoughts and daydreaming.” The students wearing the headbands “might be incredibly focused, but focused on the wrong thing, and you could get the same EEG measures.” It is also not uncommon, according to Johns Hopkins, for normal children between the ages of 4 to 14 to experience “absence seizures.” This could result in a faulty indication of inattention by BrainCo’s headband-generated data.
BrainCo, Inc. has been designated by the FDA as an Institutional Review Board (IRB) organization, giving the company permission, according to FDA rules, “to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects.” However, an FDA legal “assurance,” which requires the research subject’s consent, is only required for products currently regulated by the FDA and funded, in full or in part, by the Department of Health and Human Services. To date, no medical trial on BrainCo’s headbands has been conducted.
Flaw #2 – student privacy: BrainCo’s headbands are merely a single example of how the line between educational, bio-medical, and psycho-medical information is being increasingly blurred. How much of your medical information should be shared with your teacher or your school? When I taught, I certainly would not have considered accessing or viewing a student’s brain waves to be an appropriate or ethical activity. Nor would I have been comfortable strapping EEG recording headbands onto my Kindergarteners. Whereas a student’s food allergies are important to know, accessing his/her brain waves appears, for me, to cross the line of student privacy. While unethical, teachers who object to such unethical breaches of student privacy may possibly find themselves punished, according to a recent article at Missouri Education Watchdog.
There are presently no privacy policies listed on the company’s website. In addition, BrainCo, Inc. will not rule out the use of student EEG data for other purposes and, according to research scientist Max Newlon, the company intends to “use [headset] data for a number of different things.” “The hope is when we have this really big database, we will do some analysis that others haven’t been able to do yet,” Newlon added. Emily Tabatabai, a privacy lawyer, explained that, under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), “a provider needs to have procedures in place to address the collection of data, the deletion of data, how it will be used and shared.” Newlon has indicated that the company’s privacy policies are still being “ironed out.” Unfortunately, the matter of student privacy was muddied significantly after the Obama Department of Education gutted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in 2011. In addition, there is still no word on whether, or not, BrainCo, Inc. will need to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws due to the medical nature of the data collected.
Flaw # 3 – time and training: Teachers and administrators are not medical practitioners and, thus, are unable to read or interpret EEG’s. In addition, there is frankly little, if any, time available to be devoted to analyzing brain waves for the said purpose of ascertaining each student’s attention level, which would then need to be retroactively synchronized with the teacher’s lesson to determine precise point at which the student’s attention decreased. As Max Newlon, a research scientist at BrainCo. has already acknowledged, “Teachers have an innate ability to know when their students are engaged…” This begs the question of what, then, would be the benefit of using BrainCo’s headbands?
The true agenda: As reported by Forbes, BrainCo, Inc.’s CEO stated that the company’s goal is to develop a “brain typing” tool, translating thoughts into text. The headbands, then, serve as EEG data collectors, sending large amounts of data to what the CEO hopes will be “the world’s largest brain wave database,” explaining that, “this will enable us [BrainCo, Inc.] to use artificial intelligence on what will be the world’s largest database to improve our algorithms for things like attention and emotion detection.” Thus, just as with far too many of the money-making “education” schemes, all supposedly designed to “assist teachers” and “improve learning,” the main agenda is quite different than what is marketed to the schools.
“I believe that data is the new oil.”
~Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard
(speaking Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh)
OTHER EXAMPLES OF BIG DATA TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS:
Project EMAR, your “friendly” classroom robot: A $1 million grant was recently awarded to the University of Washington to develop and then deploy a robot named “EMAR” (Ecological Momentary Assessment Robot) which will collect data on high schoolers’ “mental health data in a public high school setting” including students’ “real-time stress and mood data,” according to the official document. In addition, EMAR is intended to contribute to the future development of omnipresent “social robots” serving as data-collectors. “The results of this project will be disseminated widely,” [emphasis mine].
“Smart” tutoring programs employing biomedical sensors: Computer science and psychology professor Sidney D’Mello enthusiastically stated, “Now, you can get a reasonable proxy of a student’s heart rate from a webcam.” Welcome to the world of biometrics, which Edutopia defines as the use of technology to “recognize humans based on specific physical or behavioral traits.” Students’ biomedical data collected via biometric technology may include “physical traits such as facial expression, heart rate, skin moisture and even odor” which “can be used to create detailed reports of student understanding and performance.” Biomedical information also includes, for example, “behavioral signs such as typing rhythm, gait and voice.”
Enter “Intelligent Tutoring Systems,” where private thoughts, emotions, and even how much a student perspires is prime gold to be mined. An article in Education Week illustrates the Big Data dreamers’ determination to violate long-established educational ethics and student privacy. The article shines a light on the ways in which technology is facilitating “new efforts to dramatically expand the types of data collected in the classroom and to focus more attention on responding to individual students’ ‘mindsets,’ non-cognitive skills, and emotional states.” Operating under the guise of “personalized learning experiences,” new forms of technology in the classroom are actively involved in the collection of data on students’ “individual emotions, cognitive processes, ‘mindsets,’ and character and personality traits.”
A 2013, Education Department report, entitled Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century describes “four parallel streams of affective sensors” already in use in government-funded tutoring programs. The devices include a facial recognition camera which is synced to software that “extracts geometric properties on faces,” and is used to “detect emotion and capture facial expressions.” There is also a “posture analysis seat” and “pressure mouse.” Finally, the report describes a “wireless skin conductance sensor” strapped to students’ wrists. According to the report, the sensors collect “physiological response data from biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration” (Blumenfeld & Newman, p. 216, 2014). Just imagine the possibilities, had this technology been available to the Cheka!
A few more examples of biometric technology:
- “It simply takes a picture of the iris, which is unique to every individual,” wrote the Polk County, Florida 2013 school board’s “senior director of support services” in a letter to parents. “With this program, we will be able to identify when and where a student gets on the bus, when they arrive at their school location, when and what bus the student boards and disembarks in the afternoon. This is an effort to further enhance the safety of our students. The EyeSwipe-Nano is an ideal replacement for the card based system since your child will not have to be responsible for carrying an identification card.” (The New American)
- Since 2007, under the guise of improving school lunchtime procedures, more and more states are implementing in-school fingerprinting.
- Radio-frequency identification devices (RFID’s) for “student tagging” have become more common. These devices especially allow schools to track students on and off school grounds. A San Antonio student was suspended from school in 2013, for refusing to carry the school-issued RFID card. Later that year, she lost her lawsuit against the school for the suspension.
WHAT DATA IS BEING COLLECTED?
“Just think George Orwell, and take it to the nth degree. We’re in an environment of surveillance, essentially. It will be an extraordinarily rich data set of your life.” Those were the words of Joel Reidenberg, director of the Center on Law & Information Policy at Fordham Law School, responding to Rep. Glenn Grothman’s (of Wisconsin) request to “provide a summary of all the information collected by the time a student reaches graduate school,” in 2015. He wasn’t kidding! As an article in the New York Times put it, “The collection of student data is out of control.”
Obama administration Department of Education’s bureaucratic gutting of FERPA, which took effect in 2012, made it legal for information about you and your children to be shared with “stakeholders” without your consent. The Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan defines stakeholders, by stating “stakeholders include leaders; teachers, faculty, and other educators; researchers; policymakers; funders; technology developers; community members and organizations; and learners and their families.” Tragically, most parents are unaware of how widely their children’s personally identifiable information (PII) is share, nor just how immense the scope of data is that is constantly being collected. While the federal government is currently banned from creating a database for the compilation of student data, there is no such prohibition on states or private entities.
Below is a list of data often collected (and permanently stored) at the state and private level:
- Medical information and juvenile court records (which, when shared directly by the school, does not have to meet HIPAA regulations or legal requirements for juvenile protections typically ensured by the courts), and other juvenile, adult, and family information (data) which is collected via various state agencies/departments, such as child services, the health department, and the department of corrections (Washington Post)
- Demographics, disability status and diagnosis, housing status, as well as “student detentions, letters of apology, demerits, warnings, counseling, suspension and expulsion records, whether the student was involved in an incident that involved weapons, whether he or she was arrested, whether there was a court hearing and what the judicial outcome and punishment was, including incarceration” (Washington Post)
- Affective data (non-cognitive), defined as “a state linked to ‘neurobiology, psychophysiology, and consciousness,’” including response to stimuli, habits, actions, response time, “smiles or frowns, changes in pupil dilation, eye-movement tracking, heart rate” and emotions (in order to learn how to regulate and alter a student’s affect) (The New American); motivation and mindset (2017 National Education Technology Plan)
- “political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent; mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family, sex behavior or attitudes; illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior; critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or income,” in addition to Social Security Number, date of birth, parents’ names, mother’s maiden name, and place of birth (The New American)
- Teacher observation on said student, teacher feedback for said student, student equity, scores, summative assessments, and data collected electronically through technological learning tools (2017 National Education Technology Plan)
SO WHAT? WHO CARES? WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?
The collection of immeasurable amounts of data on individuals is a very big deal, and it creates a variety of risks for both individual citizens, as well as for groups of citizens. A discussion of these risks is warranted. However, for the sake of brevity, I will discuss the topic of risks at length in a following article. For now, I encourage you to learn which data points your state collects, as well as the data-sharing policy(ies) in place. I also encourage you to submit a request to view your own data and that of your child (without charge), which is highly recommended since erroneous information has been attached to individual citizens in the past (see the example of father John Eppolito). Also, keep in mind the 5 principles of student privacy when investigating and evaluating your state’s policies: transparency, no commercial uses, security protections, parental/student rights, and enforcement. Lastly, talk with your child’s school about any possible pilot programs that will be taking place in your child’s classroom, such as BrainCo’s “headbands”, as well as whether or not your may opt your child out of that pilot.
George Washington University students triggered by their mascot
George Washington University is the home of the Colonials. You know, those people who came to America from Europe and eventually fought against the oppressive government of England in order to win independence for America. These heroes of the American Revolution are now being condemned by the students of George Washington University itself.
While the movement and attached petition haven’t reached a tipping point, the idea of changing the mascot to the “Hippo” is gaining momentum. Why? Well, we’ll let the students themselves tell you what they think.
This video by Campus Reform takes us into the wacky world of triggered college students who are so much in opposition of the people who made this country possible that they’d rather be named after the “river horse” of sub-Saharan Africa.
Blocking Ben: GCU the latest school succumbing to leftist hordes
Many secular universities in America have made a habit out of ending dialogue before it begins by blocking conservative events and speakers, with DailyWire editor Ben Shapiro as the most common target to ignorantly sweep under the rug. This practice is spreading to faith-based schools as Grand Canyon University joins the ranks of those who are unwilling to face the leftist hordes.
Their statement about their decision does nothing to justify it and many are noting they didn’t actually give a reason, opting to boast about their accomplishments instead.
Shorter GCU: Shutting down debate is a great idea because .. hey, look a squirrel, we are sooo diverse and we do great stuff in the community!
— Patrick McGuinness (@patmcguinness) February 3, 2019
I must admit, this is very, very disappointing. I don’t expect GCU will be having wild-eyed leftists speaking, either, but the point is the shutting down of serious interaction. Shapiro is a tremendous speaker. Let him speak!
— James White (@DrOakley1689) February 2, 2019
Read this entire statement. It’s strangely self-congratulatory and utterly puzzling. De-platforming unites no one. Fear of debate signals a lack of confidence in your institution and your ideals. Christian schools should not be so timid. https://t.co/YembW4lHPu
— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 3, 2019
Before I responded, I read your letter completely.
In essence, you've chosen Barrabas.
You want peace and harmony, and a minority of vocal activists threatened to disrupt if you didn't choose Barrabas, so you did.
.@benshapiro is a very reasonable man and thoughtful.
— 🕊️ The Ivory Dove 🕊️ (@IvoryDove) February 2, 2019
What a bunch of cowards. Frauds. Wonder why this generation is going to be filled with some of the softest, weakest people ever? Here's one reason.
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) February 3, 2019
— Elyse (@lysee_love) February 2, 2019
Their Tweet of the statement was “ratioed” and the comments aren’t letting up a day later.
Here’s the biggest problem. What Shapiro brings to any campus where he speaks is cold, hard truth wrapped in an entertaining and often contentious series of debates as students who disagree with him try to paint him as Hitler, a fascist, and even a white supremacist. I covered why these accusations are far from reality in a post and video I did the last time his voice was suppressed:
It isn’t just Shapiro, but he’s conspicuous for two reasons. First, the unhinged hatred towards him is not congruous with his level of offense. Yes, he will offend people sometimes as the truth invariably does, but he’s not David Duke or Louis Farrakhan. Somehow, he’s able to stir up such positive and negative responses on college campuses that one might think President Trump himself was making an appearance.
The second reason he’s conspicuous is because his protesters don’t have valid reasons to protest him. They’re forced to pull from their own irrational fears of him that have been conjured up out of fiction. He’s a devout Jew, yet protesters call him Hitler. He’s adamantly opposed to authoritarianism, yet protesters call him a fascist. He’s one of the most targeted journalists in America by white supremacists, yet for some reason protesters seem to think he’s a white supremacist.
The decision by GCU to prevent Shapiro from speaking is the next iteration of a systematic movement within the higher education system to indoctrinate social justice warriors rather than to nurture productive members of society. GCU may or may not be part of this movement, but they’re willful participants by succumbing to the pressure from the hordes. Therein lies the real challenge to America’s future.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of the “hordes.” Maybe you think you have, but you’re probably mistaken. The leftist hordes are not simply comprised of local protesters who do everything they can to disrupt the conversation and prevent students from hearing the truth. Those are the public-facing front line pawns of the hordes. The real dangers to freedom of thought are the power players who rally opposition against Shapiro and other conservative speakers by threatening to pull funding, contact alumni, and tarnish a university’s image in the press. They aren’t going on CNN or writing in the Washington Post. These are powerful people who have direct lines to university leaders around the nation. These are the people that you never hear about.
They don’t want you to hear about them.
It’s unfathomable that so many schools would be concerned about protests. Therefore, we have to assume the pressure is coming from somewhere other than on-campus underground Antifa groups who meet every Wednesday over pizza and beer. There’s a coordinated effort to prevent students from thinking. To do this, they act to prevent speakers like Shapiro from making students think. That should truly concern us all.
We can insult individual universities all day, but until we address the powers behind these attacks on Shapiro and the freedom of thought he brings to campuses, this problem will continue. Coordinated threats are being made. There can be no doubt of that.
Collectivism 101: The origins of the epic fraud of socialism
It’s time to finally reject the something for nothing scam from polite society.
There are times when you have to wonder if people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know they’re helping perpetrate history’s biggest scam operation. Most assuredly the terms swindle, fraud or shakedown are the nicest ways of referring to a set of ideas that have seen 400 years of death and oppression. As JD Rucker pointed out, today’s socialists no longer have an excuse to favor their ideology of societal slavery over Economic Liberty.
It should be obvious to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence that the results of Economic Liberty far exceed the fraud of socialism. Nevertheless, there are those who still insist on wanting to enslave their fellow-man for their selfish needs while trying to assert a false sense of moral superiority. How people who think they are owed a living simply because they exist is hard to fathom. At its core, socialism is predicted on the fraud of getting something for nothing. While Leftists excel in dressing it up as “Social Justice’ its basic tenets are of taking from some to set up a dependent majority.
The origins of history’s biggest fraud
How did this colossal fraud get started? How did the idea of enslaving people become enshrined as their ‘Liberation’?
To do this we need to look back at how human civilisation developed and prospered. In the beginning, mankind was very much like the rest of the animal kingdom having to work in order to survive, roaming the wild hunting and gathering food.
Then came one of mankind’s greatest inventions: farming. This meant staying in one place, planting seeds, harvesting crops and domesticating animals instead of wandering around. Property rights were a natural outgrowth of this great advance, since farming only made sense if one could reap what they had sown. [Galatians 6:7] Farming and property rights further meant that one could build permanent homes and store away food for use later on, transforming the struggle to survive from that of satisfying immediate needs to delaying or forestalling them. These incredible advances changed everything.
The products of their labor could be voluntarily exchanged – traded – leading to mankind’s other great achievements. Trade meant that humans could specialize in what they did to survive, with some farming while others made tools or other necessities.
Staying in one place meant that humans could gather together. Specialisation meant that people could use voluntary exchange to trade in the fruits of their labor to their mutual benefit. This also meant that people could also exchange recollections of the past or new ideas, so one wouldn’t have to literally reinvent the wheel. The advances that began with farming and property rights placed humans far above the animal kingdom to become its master.
It all worked fine until some people decided they wanted something for nothing.
There will always be a small segment of society that would rather live off the fruits of someone else’s labour instead of producing their own.
- Those who took other people’s property directly were the first criminals.
- Those who took other people’s property through government were the first Leftists.
The early Leftists felt they needed to differentiate themselves from common thieves, even though they had a natural affinity because of their mutual interest of living off other people’s work. Oddly enough, those who parasitically feed off the efforts of others in society are considered to be sinister and weak.
The early Leftists had to somehow justify their outright theft of other people’s property. In order to do this they created the mythical idea of collective property ownership, partnered with the absurd concept that there is a fixed amount of ‘wealth’ and that there are some who have too much of it. Never mind that both of these concepts made no sense, since individuals around the world are constantly creating wealth.
They also justified the stealing property as being morally correct over its original production. This is how they feign magnanimity by taking other people’s money while someone keeping what they have already earned as being ‘greedy’. What better way to be absolved of outright theft [not to mention oppression and mass murder] than to self-declare one to be morally superior for the very act of outright theft? Leftists will tell you that they are morally superior since their moral superiority determines that they are morally superior.
Later on these people would be known as socialists, communists, Marxists, communards, Statists, Bolshevists, Trotskyists Fascists, Democratic Socialists, National Socialists, Progressivists, Stalinists and over 30 other synonyms. Since it’s always a hallmark of honest people to avoid aliases.
Spotting the fraud of socialism
Every living being since the beginning of time has had to exert effort in order to survive. Nevertheless, there are some in society who would rather swindle their fellow-man instead working. Those who do this under the guise of government and moral superiority all known as Leftists.
Spotting this fraud is easy if one knows what to look for. Generally it will be some sort of allusions to getting something for nothing dressed up in the fraud of moral superiority. The free stuff offered can range from free college, free healthcare, free housing to free money. This can also involve allusions to safety if other people are deprived of the right of self-defense.
There is a reason why a decent society punishes theft since is very detrimental to the public order. To hear the Left talk of it, this is somehow different if the government does it. This must be rejected for the same reason that criminal theft is penalised.
At this point in history, we know that the something for nothing scam of socialism will never work. Those who persist in trying to perpetuate this fraud should be easy to spot and avoid. This would be anyone offering something for nothing. They should be asked where are they to get these wonderful gifts without enslaving others. If they cannot properly answer the question they should be rejected no matter what they call themselves.
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