We recently reported that Google has a seat on Trump’s transition team, as well as a seat at the FTC.  Peter Thiel, of PayPal and Palantir fame, has also been rumored to be a liaison for Silicon Valley at the White House. The tech sector (who were initially backing Hillary),  have been scrambling and lobbying the Trump transition team and have their hopes set on Thiel.  According to this Politico report,

Peter Thiel, may offer hope for tech. The well-connected venture capitalist and Facebook board member is poised to play the role of liaison and “could grant Silicon Valley a coveted voice at the discussion table,” reports that Thiel does indeed have a seat on Trump’s transition team, and tech insiders have “cautious optimism” that Thiel will actually shape Trump’s tech policy.
Perhaps it’s a positive sign that Trump, who reportedly does not use a computer, appointed billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel to his transition team. Thiel, who was Trump’s most vocal supporter from the tech industry, certainly knows the ins and outs of tech, with over two decades of tech experience, as co-founder and former CEO of PayPal (PYPL) and early investments in Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn (LNKD).
Several members of the tech community Yahoo Finance reached out to expressed cautious optimism that Thiel would help steer Trump towards forming an administration and tech policy that’s fair to the tech industry and enables the kind of innovation Silicon Valley is known for.


More about Thiel and edtech, data analytics, AI

We know that Thiel gave $1.25M in support of Trump’s campaign.

Thiel founded Palantir Technologies (a secretive data analytics and surveillance project, funded partly by the CIA). Thanks to the excellent research at hackeducation, we know a lot more about Peter Thiel.  Thiel also launched an investment firm, the Founders Fund (with partners from PayPal and Napster), and Thiel is a partner in the tech accelerator program Y Combinator.  Thiel also  funded the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.   You can read much more on Thiel here, but the bottom line, Thiel is into data, including student data and he has Trump’s ear.

Peter Thiel funds Clever. He funds Knewton. He funds the ultra-surveilling AltSchool.


What influence might Thiel have on Trump’s future education and tech policy?

Despite Thiel’s  innovation and datamining, parents hope that Trump and Thiel will not experiment with their children. Parents hope that President Trump will ensure students and parents have tech alternatives and stick to his promise of returning local power to parents and teachers when it comes to education.  Not everyone wants their child taught by a robot; not all parents want their child’s every click, emotion, and movement catalogued and researched.


All parents DO want school to be a safe place where children learn but not all parents want their children to be on screens at school.

Some parents, like Apple’s Steve Jobs, prefer low-tech.  Many parents see the warning from  the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that radiation from wireless devices cause cancer and don’t want their children exposed to screens and Wi-Fi at school.  Parents also worry about other effects from screen time, such as increase in ADHD,  loss of socialization, studies that show online learning is less effective, memory retention, and obesity to name a few.

Parents and child advocates worry about children’s privacy when everything they do in school, everything done online is being collected and analyzed and can be shared outside of the school.  Many parents prefer  “personalized” learning and teaching to be between real humans and want to be sure their child can still have the option of hardcopy  books.

Please President Trump, make sure students and parents have a choice. Keep children and education in the hands of parents, not government and not big business.



Cheri Kiesecker

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