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Workforce Badging. ACT Workkeys Credentialing. Data Collection. Privatization. Trade In Services Agreements. How are these related?

We have written extensively about how data gathering on students is meant to serve the needs of a planned workforce and economy. The uniform collection of data even serves the desire to privatize government functions like education. It allows private companies to design their products/services around a uniform widely agreed to set of criteria and thus achieve economies of scale. Common Core standards, uniform standardized assessments, consistent data fields and definitions all facilitate this planning model.

Alison Hawver McDowell wrote an excellent blog showing how the standardization of data collection will lead to the destruction of the brick and mortar public school system as we know it today and will shepherd in privatized education dominated by digital learning. [My comments in italics]

Digital Learning Goes Back to School

So I had a back and forth online with someone recently who didn’t understand the significance of education/workforce badging programs and asked me to write something up. So my thoughts are below. Ultimately I think this is all going to be linked to the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) as they create a global market for digital education.…
[Pay attention to TiSA, because its ratchet function is designed to make sure there is no going back from privatization of services. “The TISA negotiations follow the corporate agenda of using “trade” agreements to make privatization non-reversible, and to promote mergers and acquisitions and deregulation, in order to ensure greater corporate control and profit making of national economies and the global economy.” Why TiSA is Dangerous]
How to create a global market for digital learning: (detailed background from Morna McDermott)…):
1. Create a common platform of educational standards. Don’t get distracted by CCSS-the uber set of standards is all pretty much in place now.
2. Make sure all the developers are using a common schema for educational item data tagging.…
3. Make PII data and data-collection a priority in schools. Don’t limit yourself to academic performance. Layer in SEL and bio-metrics, too. These are all important for workforce development. Gather it via embedded assessments and gaming to make it more palatable.…/performance-tracki…/experience-api/
[This push to collect even more personal data should be very troubling in light of the fact that TiSA has provisions to maintain the flow of data between trading partners. “In particular, the agreement would strip existing protections which aim to keep confidential or personally identifiable data within country borders or which prohibit its movement to other countries which do not have similar data protection laws in place.” Wikipedia   “A provision proposed by US negotiators would rule out any conditions for the transfer of personal data to third countries that are currently in place in EU data protection law.”]
4. Focus on closing the digital divide by providing low-cost technology to districts with a majority of low-income students and by expanding broadband access to rural areas. For global, digital education to work, inexpensive internet everywhere must be put in place.
5. Expand 1:1 device initiatives. Design learning management platforms to be run on less-expensive tablets and chromebooks.
6. Systematically defund bricks and mortar educational systems. Allow facilities to decline, reduce human teaching staff, implement ongoing austerity budgets, etc.
7. Control the teacher training pipeline to make digital learning the primary delivery vehicle.
8. Drive families out of the public school system via punitive measures (high-stakes testing, IEP non-compliance, No Excuses etc.) and create a perception of public education as dangerous and/or ineffectual so people withdraw to do home school or private school.
9. Set up charter cyber schools to accommodate the new “home school” families. This will further destabilize public school systems.
10. Start to build up “virtual” public schools. In PA they are doing it through the county intermediate units. These will be cross-district, regional programs. Students will be encouraged to enroll in a “few” classes online via these programs. They will brand them differently than the cyber charters. They will market it as a savvy cost-saving measure. See PA Open Campus.
11. Global corporations purchase cyber charter companies to do R&D to refine their online learning platforms and extend their reach-see Connections Academy (Pearson owned) in 29 states.
12. Convince the public that online portfolios are better suited to the 21st century “gig” economy workforce than traditional diplomas/transcripts. Make it difficult to procure and access traditional credentialing avenues. See rise of Naviance use in schools. Push badging for non-academic skills.
13. Convince people that badging has merit and is a trustworthy measure of true skill. Continue to break down the “seat time narrative.” Learning can happen “anywhere.” You can earn badges anywhere, too-not just in school. [See MEW post on ACT Workkeys]
***If you do nothing else, watch this 6-minute video on “edu-blocks.”***…
14. Have legislation passed that allows for an increase in the use of credit-bearing ELOs (extended, expanded, enhanced learning opportunities)-preferably unlimited. Initially these programs will be before/after school and in summer, but once the community-based learning framework is in place, it can begin to usurp the role of bricks and mortar schools. Reduce seat-time funding requirements at a state level.
15. Blur the lines between high school and college through dual enrollment programs, many of which are delivered digitally. Couch it as “lifelong learning.” Expand online AP classes to target niche markets and add legitimacy to the online learning model.
16. Get Federal legislation passed so for-profit online education providers can access student loan financing for online courses that will result in badges and micro-credentials.
17. Establish a common list of skill codes for the labor force that can be tied to the online portfolios and to screen job applicants more efficiently. There will be limited on-the-job training in the future. People will need to finance their own training.
18. Open up global education markets via TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement). Digital education controlled by multinational corporations (with a supplement of local project based learning) becomes the norm in the 21st century. If you are up for a short dystopian essay. It paints a compelling picture:…
*Don’t count on the non-profits to step up and save education. The ELO / Learning Eco-System model will allow them to significantly expand their programming, and once they accept philanthropic monies or funding via “Pay for Success” or social impact bonds, they will not be in position to fight back. Certified teachers will be replaced by Americorps/Vista kids keeping track of the online portfolios, and newly-minted college graduates will have temporary-grant funded jobs staffing project-based learning at cultural and job-training centers. No more need for certified teachers.…

You can see that we are already up to step #9 and have elements for #10-18 in the works. Your data set will become the property of the multinational corporation so the question you have to ask yourself is, how much do they care about your pursuit of happiness and your rights?

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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