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Gates Paying Murdoch For System To Track U.S. Kids' School Progress 182

theodp writes "Discussing U.S. education in his 2012 Annual Letter, Bill Gates notes the importance of 'tools and services [that] have the added benefit of providing amazing visibility into how each individual student is progressing, and generating lots of useful data that teachers can use to improve their own effectiveness.' Well, Bill is certainly putting his millions where his mouth is. The Gates Foundation has ponied up $76.5 million for a controversial student data tracking initiative that's engaged Rupert Murdoch's Wireless Generation to 'build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content.' If you live in CO, IL, NC, NY, MA, LA, GA, or DE, it's coming soon to a public school near you."
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Gates Paying Murdoch For System To Track U.S. Kids' School Progress

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  • Shitstorm inc. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:29AM (#38857379)
    Through a bug it will track their physical location, everything they say, and what websites they visit. And their parents while at it.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:48AM (#38857489)

    Or is MS no longer part of MSNBC?

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:49AM (#38857505)

    The obvious assumption when you're dealing with a known criminal organization is that they'll put all this effort into gathering information in order to sell it. The problem is, who will the customers be?

    So... you package up a spam list of all the students who flunked financial literacy 101 and sell it to the car dealers, Realtors(tm), and mortgage brokers, "come and get em!". But they don't need the leads, because its all cross fertilized. The customers at the rent-a-center are the customers at the payday loan store are the customers at the subprime mortgage dealer are the customers at McDonalds are the customers at Walmart. They already know who these guys are.

    OK so see I never took any automotive classes, so you assume you can screw me over at the stealership. What you don't know is I spent a summer helping a great-uncle rebuild a 1930's diesel tractor, helped weld a homemade lake-pier together which is still standing a quarter century later, etc ... The idea that a "college bound" student like myself would attend a votech class was unthinkable in that era, and probably today... in fact all of our suburban students are supposed to go to college to make the bankers who provider the loans rich, so I don't think shop class attendance is going to be relevant or useful data. In a way, this is great, because it encourages people to teach themselves, not attend a class. I certainly did not learn how to replace brake rotors and pads in a classroom, that's for sure.

    And the rest of the data? Donno. Maybe I'm low on caffeine but I donno who can profit off the knowledge that I aced everything in 2nd year chem aka introductory o-chem or that I didn't do so well in 9th grade history because I was bored to tears (well not literally, but darn close).

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:00PM (#38857591)

    We did already have this. It was called report cards, and when I was in K-12 school, it got sent home on paper with me once every six weeks so my parents could look at it and see how I was doing and if necessary ground me for not paying attention in school.

    With grade inflation its no longer meaningful. Also its a pretty good form of "stealth ageism". For example I'm old enough (get off my F-ing lawn) that I worked extremely hard to get a B+ in quantitative chemical analysis, lets just say it was long enough ago that we had an admittedly old even in that era apple II for a lab computer for potentiometric electrochemical analysis. Back in ye olden days, a B+ was a pretty strong effort and looks good on my transcript and believe it or not probably curved me up to around the top quartile of the class, I always was a superior chemist even in one of my weaker areas. Compared to a young whipper snapper where as long as you pay the registration office and show up, you're guaranteed an easy "A", that B+ makes me look like the class moron. And that is "stealth ageism" because my numbers make me appear dumber than your average young 4.0 student, but I actually did what would in modern terms be relatively high "A" level work not merely a B+. To figure out I'm a moron you should have to read /., not compare a decades old grades transcript with a modern hyper-inflated grade transcript.

    I've seen this effect with my kids. I used to get the full spectrum of D in gym up to A+ in science, but they only get wishy washy word grades now in grade school, like a checkmark for one of these three "Have not begun this topic" "making progress on this topic" "mastered this topic". I'm told there was a slightly earlier era a decade ago where they exclusively gave out A grade, it was just curved to A- for the morons, plain A for the masses, and A+ for the elite.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:21PM (#38857699) Journal []

    "The fact that we have more race, ethnicity and economic heterogeneity, and we have this huge problem of poverty, should not mean we don't want qualified teachers - the strategies become even more important," Dr. Darling-Hammond said. "Thirty years ago, Finland's education system was a mess. It was quite mediocre, very inequitable. It had a lot of features our system has: very top-down testing, extensive tracking, highly variable teachers, and they managed to reboot the whole system."

    Singapore and South Korea do about as well as Finland but with a different approach - the students do a lot more work, have more pressure and I think they have a higher student to teacher ratio (more expensive directly for the State). FWIW I think I'd prefer to be a Finnish student than a Singaporean student. The former apparently enjoy the process of being educated more.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:36PM (#38857793)

    There is an effort to collapse or split education into haves and have-nots in the US. Its been really going on since Integration in the US. For decades before Integration, there were policies of "Dual Schools" in the US. That's happening again, and it's going to take legislators to stop it. The only way I can see it happening is massive over haul of the Public education system and forced closure of private education systems. There is a concerted effort by the conservative power elite in the USA to splinter and collapse universal schooling. The only way is to outlaw non-state sanctioned schooling so the wealthy are forced to participate in the public schooling system.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:50PM (#38857927)

    You'd need to do something about districts and remove local budgeting and control of schools. Not saying I agree with you, but if you don't do that, then all you're doing is shuffling names around without actually changing anything. If you keep districts at "neighborhood" or "city" size, then you just end up replicating have/have-not based on real estate value. Which leads inevitably to lower property taxes and higher state or federal taxes, more bookkeeping, middlemen, and corruption, etc. Because taxes never reduce, that means the locals will have lots of extra money floating around, which leads to more corruption. So overall, you'd theoretically get standardized education, but probably at a lower level due to higher corruption, and the upper half would still have everything from simply caring about their kids school all the way up to private schools, so as a society I don't think we'd win because the rich would remain better off, but the median would drop. The absolute bottom of the barrel would do better, but they're just going into the prison industrial complex anyway, so I see little point in wasting educational resources on them, just what we need, smarter criminals. So in summary, I disagree with your method and your goals, each for different reasons.

    There is a concerted effort by the conservative power elite in the USA to splinter and collapse universal schooling

    No its a 1% vs 99% thing, and the 1% use anti-leftie PR when talking to the righties, and anti-rightie PR when talking to the lefties, to get both sides to do their bidding. Looks like you fell for it hook line and sinker.

  • by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @02:16PM (#38858569)

    There is no need to worry.

    Newscorp agents will carefully monitor student feedback ..... by hacking their voicemail accounts on their cellphones.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2012 @09:42PM (#38860959)

    Nice non-sequitur, but the reason people hesitate at red lights even when no cars are around is if you do a lot of walking, you want to *subconsciously* handle as much of the walking as possible. If I start teaching myself that traffic rules are optional, I might treat them as optional *even when I'm not paying attention*.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman