Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's Get Social

"Can I have your email?"

We've grown used to the request in retail establishments as we go through the check out process. I don't always give out my email adress. I'll admit that I find the request somewhat intrusive, but I've gotten used to it, along with the, "Did you know you can save five per cent today if you open a credit account?" question.

Anyway, let's face it, email is so last year compared to social media. Companies want to expand their reach by connecting with you, your family and network of friends and aquaintances. They want to sell you more stuff. They want to find out your purchasing preferences. They want to build brand loyalty.

But not Pearson. The company that produces the PARCC exams used throughout the nation is encouraging students to provide their social media account information for a much more intrusive reason: they want to keep an eye on them. #PearsonIsWatching

That's right. Pearson has partnered with a software company to monitor students' social media accounts, not just during the school day, but afterwards as well. News broke Friday afternoon of a case where a student mentioned a test question on Twitter after school and PARCC responded through the Department of Education (this was in New Jersey) who contacted the school to censure the student. Read the entire story here.

Pearson maintains that it is within their rights to protect the confidential nature of the test. I guess they see it as proprietary information, as they are requiring both teachers and students to sign confidentiality agreements. There's just one problem: children can't be held to confidentiality agreements because they're...children.

I cry foul. (And a whole lot more than that, not printable here.) If you didn't already have deep concerns about how Pearson is making millions on testing and test-targeted curriculm, now is the time to get educated about what is truly going on here. It's not for the good of our schools, or for the good of our children. It's for the good of Pearson.

As a parent and a teacher, I am disgusted by a big company spying on kids. I also find it frightening that we are putting our kids in a "don't tell; its a secret!" situation. We all know that those situations are the hallmark of abuse.

Please write the Howard County Board of Education, the Maryland State Department of Education, and Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education to let them know that spying on children and trying to force them to sign confidentiality agreements is wrong and that you as a parent will not allow it. A company that believes this kind of behavior is appropriate should not be permitted anywhere near our kids.






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