Tweets, FaceBook, Instagram and other social media being tracked! Not only by the NSA, but by Pearson Education and the NJ Department of Education!!
CRITICAL UPDATE – COMMON CORE
We recently wrote about this story that appeared last week concerning the PARCC tests. This is a follow up with more troubling news.
Bob Braun, former Star Ledger education reporter, reported about the surveillance of students’ social media following their taking of the PARCC test at Watchung Regional HS, and the superintendent’s reaction. Pearson asked, through the NJ Department of Education, that the students be disciplined, on account of their tweets concerning the test. The NJDOE contacted the school district and forwarded Pearson’s request to the district. One student was suspended as a result, but the superintendent’s e-mail to her colleagues has also been posted, expressing concern about the compromise of student privacy.
This story has now exploded across NJ and the nation, as other reports of Pearson snooping into student social media accounts have surfaced. Now, in addition to the Watchung Regional School District. Two high schools in the HANOVER PARK REGIONAL HS District (three blocks from my house), and COLUMBIA HIGH SCHOOL in Maplewood HAVE REPORTED SIMILAR CASES OF PEARSON’S SNOOPING.
Worse – Pearson has confirmed their interests in maintaining test security through monitoring of student social media, and a call this morning to the NJ Department of Education defended the practice as not violating student privacy, because it was obtained not through the school district, but through information posted “publicly” on social media, by the students themselves.
PLEASE, PLEASE – read Bob Braun’s entire blog, for which the link appears above. He indicates that his story has NOT been covered by the Star Ledger, for which he used to work!!!
As a result of this news, NJ Commissioner of Education, David Hespe, and Pearson have been called before the NJ Assembly Education Committeethis Thursday at 10:00 a.m. in Trenton to answer questions.
PLEASE CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ATTENDING. UNLESS PARENTS AND THE PUBLIC ACT DECISIVELY, THERE IS NO DOUBT THIS UNIMAGINABLE AND OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOR, MONITORING OF STUDENT DATA AND ABRIDGEMENT OF EVERYONE’S FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO FREE SPEECH WILL CONTINUE!!!.
PEOPLE GET THE GOVERNMENT THEY DESERVE!!! FAILURE TO ACT WILL ASSURE THAT THIS MONITORING WILL CONTINUE !!!
Here is an excerpt from Braun’s FaceBook blog:
Bob Braun’s Ledger
March 15, 2015
The Brave New World of testing expands
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BLOG: HANOVER – Two other New Jersey school districts-Hanover Park Regional in East Hanover and South Orange-Maplewood-were notified by state officials that “monitoring”-spying?- Twitter traffic revealed students had used social media accounts to post a forbidden messages regarding the PARCC tests. No surprise, really-it’s happening everywhere, including Maryland where a state official said he gets daily reports from Pearson, the publisher of the standardized tests. on what students are saying about testing on their internet accounts.
“PARCC has a very sophisticated system that closely monitors social media for pretty much everything (comments like the one you shared, test item questions that students use cell phones cameras and take),” said Henry Johnson, the state assistant education commissioner in Maryland. The state, like New Jersey, has a contract with Pearson.
“We get those reports daily.”
Let’s run that one by you again:
“PARCC has a very sophisticated system that closely monitors social media for pretty much everything….”
The phrase “pretty much everything” aptly describes the broad reach of how this brave new world of testing and cooperation with government works. Pearson will say-as it told the Washington Post-that it is doing it for “security” reasons.
But security is itself a broad term. Here is what the State of New Jersey and Pearson agreed encompassed the idea of security and its possible breach-it’s codified in the testing manual developed by the state and sent out to all the districts:
“Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication.”
Another opportunity for repetition for emphasis here-discussing? Any other form of communication?
So, if children come home from school and their parents ask-“How was your day, sweetheart?” and the children talk about a really dumb question on the PARCC, they will be violating the rules and be subject to whatever punishment is meted out for cheating-as a blogger did who learned from a child who hadn’t taken the test that there was a passage on it about The Wizard of Oz.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Read the entire Braun blog, and FORWARD THIS ON TO EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST!!!! To do this, please use the “forward” buttons at the top and bottom of this e-mail, rather than using your own server to forward, as you may unwittingly “unsubscribe” yourself from our e-mails if someone you sent it to “unsubscribes”.
2. Let’s show up in Trenton on Thursday. Three other bills are on the agenda, in addition to Hespe and Pearson being called to testify. I am told that testimony must be on the bills, not on the privacy issue alone. Therefore, I would suggest that you address your remarks to A4268, that establishes a PARCC task force (deja vu all over again!). Click here for a link to the text of the bill. You will see it looks a whole lot like the bill proposed last spring and ultimately voted on and passed, almost unanimously by the Assembly. This is like tying your child to the train track as the train approaches, but telling him to relax, you’re going to study how fast it is coming, how far it will go, how many people are on board, whether you CAN stop it, etc.!!!
3. Call and/or e-mail all of the contacts for Senate and Assembly Ed committees, and the Governor’s office.
4. Call and/or e-mail your own 2 assembly representatives and your state senator.
ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
Patrick J. Diegnan, Chair (D-18) – 908-757-1677 — AsmDiegnan@njleg.org
Troy Singleton, Vice Chair (D-7) – 856-234-2790 –AsmSingleton@njleg.org
Ralph R. Caputo (D-28) 973-450-0484 — AsmCaputo@njleg.org
Angel Fuentes (D-5) 856-547-4800 — AsmFuentes@njleg.org
Mila M. Jasey (D-27) 973-762-1886 — AswJasey@njleg.org
Angelica Jimenez (D-32) 201-223-4247 — AswJimenez@njleg.org
David P. Rible (R-30) 732-974-1719 — AsmRible@njleg.org
Donna M. Simon (R-16) 908-968-3304 — AswSimon@njleg.org
Adam Taliaferro (D-3) 973-339-0808 — AsmTaliaferro@njleg.org
David W. Wolfe (R-10) 732-840-9028 — AsmWolfe@njleg.org
Democratic majority = Martin Sumners (609) 847-3500
Republican minority = Natalie Ghaul (609) 847-3400
SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
Teresa M. Ruiz, Chair (D-29) …… 973-484-1000 — SenRuiz@njleg.org
Shirley K. Turner, Vice Chair (D-15) 609-323-7239 — SenTurner@njleg.org
Diane Bl Allen (R-7).. 856-314-8835 — SenAllen@njleg.org
James Beach (D-6) …. 856-429-1572 — SenBeach@njleg.org
Michael Doherty (R-23) 908-835-0552 — SenDoherty@njleg.org
Democratic majority = Liz Mahn ……….. (609) 847-3700
Republican minority = Christopher Emigholz (609) 847-3600
Chris Christie … 609-292-6000 or (609) 777-2500
— web contact form = http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact/
(scroll down to select topic = Education, Subtopic = K-12)