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The Harmful Consequences of Screen Technologies in Texas Education [ 468 times ]

The Harmful Consequences of Screen Technologies in Texas Education

By Carole Hornsby Haynes      October 30, 2018

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Despite extensive research about the harmful effects of technology on the psychological well-being and academic achievement of children, Texas leaders continue to expand programs and devices in Texas public schools because they have been assured by edtech companies that technology is the panacea for the ails of public education. However, academic achievement continues to fall and digital screen addiction is a major problem. The federal government and large corporations have formed partnerships for the collection of of personal student information that is shared with third parties without parental knowledge or approval. The data is used to create profits for corporations and for databases that are being used to track citizens throughout their lifetime.

 

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E-Rate Program Lowers Academic Achievement

In 1996 the Telecommunications Act was enacted to provide subsidies for schools to access broadband service through the Schools and Libraries program, also known as the E-rate program. After spending more than $40 billion of taxpayers’ money, the program is just another big government fiasco. Clemson and Georgetown Universities researchers gathered data from all North Carolina public schools between 2000-2013 and found that “the more E-Rate funding a school received, the worse its students performed.” 

 

Fed/EdTech Partnership Pushes Data Mining and Video Games Into Classrooms

The U.S. Department of Education has become increasingly aggressive in demanding more personal data on students for various federal grants. The Departments of Education and Defense in 2011 created the Federal Learning Registry as an open source infrastructure where education resources are aggregated and shared. To facilitate collecting student data online and storing it in the Learning Registry, they created other programs and partnered with giant corporations including Amazon.

In 2014 the federal agency, National Science Foundation, funded the creation of LearnSphere to mine and store millions of educational data points on each student which is available to registered users. The data is generated from interactive tutoring systems, educational games, and open online courses. The federal government is aggressively encouraging schools to toss out textbooks and spend the money for digital learning, under the guise of saving money. The website states that, “Traditional textbooks are perpetually outdated, forcing districts to re-invest significant portions of their budgets on replacing them.”

This is a ploy to create new content with the Marxist/Common Core ideology. Veteran teachers tell us that,

“The only new addition to math studies is in statistics/data analyses. Otherwise, we can use good 50-year- old math textbooks just fine and supplement them with statistics lessons. The same can be said for reading and writing. Good reading materials and correct grammar/writing conventions have rare and few changes within those disciplines. There are more changes in science, of course, and some in world history/geography. Good music and good art skills are old, indeed.”

The USDE launched Online Education Resources -- #GoOpen and encouraged states, school districts and educators to use open licensed online curriculum and educational games. Through Open Educational Resources, giant corporations are bypassing the state boards of education and controlling the online “personalized” curriculum content that our American students are being taught. Taxpayers are being forced to fund this unapproved content.

 

Corporate Takeover of American Classrooms and Curriculum Content

Rather than creating products that teachers need and want to use, Silicon Valley tech giants decide what they want to sell and then create a sales pitch such as “personalized learning” – code for computerized education that replaces teachers.

In 2012 Rupert Murdoch, media mogul, invested more than $1 billion into Amplify to develop educational video games.

Mohit Midha, CEO of Mangahigh which develops video math games, calls for schools to ditch traditional instruction because students cannot focus for more than five minutes. It is true that students now have difficulty focusing on reading content, but Midha did not disclose what experts report: that digital reading encourages distraction and invites multi-tasking.

With almost no public oversight, Google has quickly gained a major presence in public classrooms through bypassing district administration and taking their free classroom Google Apps for Education Suite (GAFE) and low cost laptops direct to teachers.

Google creates brand loyalty through training and certifying teachers on Google products so they can set up their own consulting services – code for “lobbyists” – and sell Google products to their school districts “for the children” at the expense of taxpayers.

Google owns the education market. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Chromebooks represented about 60 percent of mobile device shipments into the U.S. K-12 schools, according to Futuresource Consulting.

While the student is using Google devices, personal data is being collected. However, Google has refused to disclose how it uses data collected from students’ online activities including what is collected, why it’s collected, and how the data is used.

Thousands of free Android educational apps available in the Google Play store are tracking children, exposing kids to targeted ads and automatic profiling. The study, “Won’t Somebody Think of the Children,” was published in the scholarly journal, Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies. The researchers say the problems are rampant and provide parents with a privacy analysis of each app, including the popular Google Classroom and Khan Academy.

There is a growing anger among parents because their children’s school issued Chromebooks, that are brought home, are collecting information about the parents’ bank and credit card accounts, passwords, and other highly personal information which is stored and shared.

Through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have introduced a digital learning program into schools that allows students to “take charge of their own learning” -- code for students teaching themselves. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has developed education software that includes social, emotional, and physical development. Zuckerberg’s lofty goal is for a “billion students” around the world to learn by using software with very little teacher help. Since January 2016, CZI has given away $308 million to groups working to “’personalize’ learning, reshape teacher training, and diversify the ranks of education leaders.”

 

Litigation Against Google

The Mississippi Attorney General is suing Google over allegations that it collects data from students who use its education apps. The Arizona Attorney General is investigating the company over its location tracking practices while Missouri Attorney General is probing whether Google violated state antitrust and consumer protection laws. New Mexico Attorney General has sued mobile game developer Tiny Lab Productions, along with Google, Twitter and other tech companies, for allegedly violating federal and state children's privacy laws.

 

Computerized Learning for Political and Social Change

States, which applied for funding under the 2009 Race to the Top during the Obama administration, were required to collect personal student information including hair and eye color, weight, height, blood type, dental status, and behavioral data.

Mining of student of data is mandated in the unconstitutional 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act which greatly increases the collection of non-academic data with items beyond standardized test scores into state accountability systems.

ESSA calls for use of computer adaptive assessments, a highly useful tool in shaping mindsets of children with pseudo-psychoanalysis and Pavlovian training of students. Computers are being used to brain map, probing how a child’s brain works so learning can be “personalized.” The goal of brain mapping is more difficult if a student is reading books and writing on paper.

During student engagement in digital programs, massive amounts of lucrative personal data are collected including information about a student's behavior, beliefs, and interactions.

Because the federal government is prohibited from collecting personal information on citizens, lawmakers used a devious method to skirt around this. Under a federal mandate all 50 states set up State Longitudinal Data Systems for the storage and sharing of non-academic data on students and their families.

Public schools allow the tech industry to collect billions of student data points about every aspect of every student by mandating that students complete assignments using online tools and apps for classwork and homework on school-assigned personal devices. The data are used to build comprehensive profiles on each student from pre-K through the workforce which is easily shared with vendors, other governmental agencies, across state lines, and with organizations or individuals engaged in education-related “research” or evaluation – all without parental knowledge or consent.

In time the federal government will have personal data on all citizens from cradle to grave. Why does the government need this personal information on its citizens?

 

Digital Devices Lower Academic Achievement, Say the Experts

American K-12 education is spending around $5 billion annually on technology, while cutting budgets and laying off teachers. Research is piling up that technology is not improving student achievement, but rather is depressing it.

That technology does not increase student test scores is borne out by the 2015 study of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which spans 31 nations and regions. The study found lower scores on reading and math tests for students with classroom computer access.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores for the 2014-2015 exams were lower for students who took the exams via computers than for those who used paper and pencil. The pattern was most pronounced in English/language arts and middle- and upper-grades math.

At the higher education level, the 2016 study of the United States Military Academy’s economic students reported lower test scores for those using classroom computers.

Problems created by digital devices are being widely reported at all levels of education.

In a study published in January 2013 in the International Journal of Educational Research, Professor Anne Mangen of the Norwegian University of Stavanger found that students who read text on computers performed worse on comprehension tests than students who read the same text on paper.

A 2016 study published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics showed that grades improved when phones were removed from the classroom.

Associate professor of education at Furman University and author about public educational methods, Paul Thomas, says, “Teaching is a human experience…technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”

Education psychologist and author of Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds, Dr. Jane Healy, has spent years doing research about computer use in schools and feels strongly that “time on the computer might interfere with development of everything from the young child’s motor skills to his or her ability to think logically and distinguish between reality and fantasy.”

Maryanne Wolf, one of the world's foremost experts on the study of reading, notes that students have become so accustomed to skimming materials online, with interactive distractions, that their reading comprehension has declined. With poor reading comprehension, students have trouble reading the classics.

Patricia Greenfield, distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA, analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and found that reading for pleasure has declined among young people in recent decades. This is a problem because reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary.

 

Should Digital Learning Replace Teachers

University of Southern California Professor Patricia Burch found that English language learners and students with disabilities were significantly less likely than other students to benefit from blended learning. They performed better with personal instruction.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that thinking and writing skills for navigating the internet in a digital society can be successfully learned through traditional and analogue methodologies and tools. OECD concluded that it’s more valuable to acquire a basic proficiency in reading and math to create equal opportunities in a digital world than to expand or subsidize access to high-tech devices and services.

 

Digital Screen Addiction

Classroom technology not only leads to worse academic performance for kids, it can also clinically hurt them. Two hundred peer-reviewed studies have connected screen time to increased ADHD, increased aggression, anxiety, screen addiction, depression, and even psychosis. Children under 10 are especially susceptible to screen addiction.

A two-year study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed students who used several types of digital media several times daily were twice as likely to have ADHD as classmates who were less frequent users.

Adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Duncley believes that interacting with screens overstimulates a child and is a possible cause for the 40-fold increase in pediatric bipolar disorder from 1994-2003, and the 800 percent increase in ADHD from 1980-2007.

Children who have ADHD are required by schools to take medication to control their behavior. Public schools are ignoring the research about higher rates of ADHD due to exposure to digital screens and are moving increasingly toward online learning with teachers merely being facilitators. Public education must share the blame for increasing rates of ADHD.

A recent study by Jean Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State, reports that children who use electronics excessively may fail to develop normal communication skills, including conversational and listening skills and making eye contact.

The development of social skills may also be impaired, including the ability to make face-to-face friends, take responsibility for actions, follow verbal directions, display self control, use polite language, display good manners, and develop empathy for others.

As student screen time is increased, we can expect more mental health issues and impaired development of social skills.

 

Addictive Video Games in Texas Classrooms

Tech companies are pushing addictive educational video games into American classrooms.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the MacArthur Foundation, has poured millions into GlassLabs, a tech company that does research on video games for the classroom. The company's website claims their products will “dramatically improve student learning.” Yet research does not bear out this claim and shows that digital products have produced negative learning effects.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, clinical psychologist and one of the nation's foremost experts on addiction, finds that video games, especially those in the classroom, and screen technologies affect the frontal cortex exactly the way as does cocaine. In his clinical work with more than 1,000 teens, Kardaras found it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than a true-tech addict.

Chris Marcellino, a whistleblower who was the creator of the Facebook Push Notification and is retraining to be a neurosurgeon, says that game designers are rewarded for exploiting the cognitive feature of the human brain to get and keep the user’s attention. Technologies can affect the same neurological pathways as gambling and drug use, the same circuits that make people seek out food, comfort, heat, sex.

A brain imaging study by Indiana University School of Medicine also finds that video game playing alters the brain in the same way that drug addiction does.

Neurologist and Oxford professor Baroness Susan Greenfield believes that video game addiction can cause a form of “dementia” in children.

Several brain imaging studies have shown gray matter shrinkage or loss of tissue volume for internet/gaming addicts (Zhou 2011, Yuan 2011, Weng 2013, and Weng 2012).

Despite the volumes of research about addictive video games, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is implementing math video games in its blended learning programs in district and open charter schools for grades pre-K through 8. The TEA is claiming “dramatic results” from the use of blended learning programs across the state, despite the study being flawed.

In the Texas SUCCESS Comprehensive Evaluation Report (2015), the researchers admitted to numerous problems that prevented an appropriate assessment of their program. One of the most concerning issues was that no control group – students who did not have access to the program – was used. All students had access to the program with some using it more than others.

Nakonia Hayes, retired math teacher and principal, wrote her observations about the math section (Thinking Through Math) of the TEA report, shown in Attachment A. Hayes notes,

“Based on the report’s summary, whether or not the TTM curriculum was valuable and improved student earning could not be accurately assessed. One wonders why such a massive effort would have been agreed to by the Texas Education Agency instead of setting up small pilot programs with defined groups of children across this giant state…..In spite of the massive amount of statistical data shown in their ‘Addendum Report,’ the fact is there cannot be concrete conclusions drawn that prove SUCCESS had success among a significant number of Texas students....”

TEA has approved four online vendors of video math games for its 2018-2019 Math Innovation Zones programs. The vendors’ websites leave no doubt that their software is designed to stimulate children and offer prizes/incentives, which research shows to be addictive, especially to young children.

  • IXL – “offers hours of intrigue with vibrant visuals, interactive questions, and exciting prizes”
  • Imagine Math – “student earns points toward meeting classroom goals, donating to charity, or customizing their avatars”
  • Reasoning Mind – (now Imagine Math) - “animated characters, and built-in incentives”
  • ST Math - “The very experience of solving tantalizingly tricky puzzles is intrinsically motivating. In doing so, students develop a conditioned response that drives them to take on the next challenge with energy and enthusiasm.”

 

Silicon Valley Executives Expose the Dangers of Technologies

Paul Emerich, a defector from Silicon Valley, wrote that the primary concern of the edutech companies was not the education of children but rather monetizing the tools to meet the financial goals of their investors. He says the hyper-individualization promoted by the companies actually “isolates children, breeds competition, assumes that children can learn entirely on their own, and dehumanizes the learning environment...”

Steve Jobs limited the amount of technology that his children could use at home and insisted they read print books and discuss them at dinner. He did not allow them to have the new Apple iPads.

Bill Gates did not allow his children to have smart phones until they were 14 and his wife, Melinda, said she wished they had waited longer before allowing them to have a computer in their pockets.

Explaining why he imposes strict limits on his children’s use of technology, Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, says, “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

 

Silicon Valley Executives Send Their Kids to Computer-Free Schools

Silicon Valley executives send their kids to the Waldorf School of the Peninsula which bans computers. The school’s website states that electronic entertainment can negatively influence the emotional and physical development and learning of children and adolescents.

Google Executive Alan Eagle told the New York Times, “I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school…The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that's ridiculous.”

Eagle insists kids can figure out technology when they are older because the tech companies make technology “as brain dead easy to use as possible.”

In a 1996 interview for Wired magazine, Steve Jobs expressed a very clear anti-tech-in-the-classroom opinion: “….I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.”

 

Conclusion

The 10th Amendment leaves education to state and local control yet corporations, accountable to no one, are attempting in an unprecedented manner to set public policy. The purpose of American public education, as intended by our Founders, is to educate our children for self governance, not to be a profit center for corporations or a change agent for social and political agendas.

American public education is no longer focused on academic learning but rather is online curricula and programming which (1) illegally collects data from students and (2) shifts the teaching of America’s founding principles, system of government, and free market economy to teaching that students are “global citizens” who are individual workers in a global community/economy who just happen to live in the United States.

This cannot be denied since 44 percent of millennials support socialism over capitalism and are anti-American. They were taught those attitudes and beliefs in our schools.

Technology companies are making billions from the sale of technology products to schools yet send their children to schools that ban computers and use teachers and traditional learning instead.

Texas is spending large sums of money for technologies that are lowering academic achievement and creating harmful screen addiction. The high cost of building the infrastructure and maintaining and upgrading equipment is being forced upon the taxpayers.

Dr. John Vallance, headmaster of the most prestigious school in Australia, Sydney Grammar, removed technology from his school, saying that the $2.4 billion spent by Australia on education technology was a “really scandalous situation” … where Australia was “spending more on education than ever before and the results are gradually getting worse and worse...I think when people come to write the history of this period in education … this investment in classroom technology is going to be seen as a huge fraud.”

We the citizens are holding our Texas leaders responsible for

  • providing a digital screen-free education for students until at least high school and then only limited use of digital learning;
  • stopping the collection, storage, and sharing of highly personal information of students and their families;
  • removing control of education policy and the classroom from corporations and returning it to parents and local boards; and
  • stopping the assault on our Constitutional right to privacy.

If Texas leaders are really concerned about educating children, they will heed the the sage advice from Steve Jobs that no amount of technology will ever fix what is wrong with education. A good place to begin is the total eradication of Marxism and psychological manipulation for changing student worldviews that pervades the American – and Texas – education system.

 

 

 

Attachment A

Comments on the Texas Education Agency’s

Texas SUCCESS Comprehensive Evaluation Report of 2015

By Nakonia Hayes, October 9, 2018

 

“Don’t forget the people.”

Based on the report, Texas SUCCESS Comprehensive Evaluation Report (Gibson Consulting Group, Inc., January 2015) - reposted 2/18/15 https://tea.texas.gov/Reports_and_Data/Program_Evaluations/Reading_Math_Science_and_Technology_Initiatives/Program_Evaluation__Reading,_Math,_Science,_and__Technology_Initiatives/

(This review focuses only on the report’s section on mathematics education.)

The assumption that moving to technologically-driven curriculum is the answer to education’s many problems today is an erroneous one. It’s still about working with the people inside the buildings who must choose to work with any proposed and proven curriculum, no matter what its form. School leaders have to know what results have been shown by a program and in what specific environments.

Otherwise, it’s just another fad from another vendor. Most good teachers recognize fads. They also know how to avoid wasting time on them.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that those who are designing new curriculum materials, whether online or in print, should get to know what actually happens in classrooms. The results of a statewide digital program, Think Through Math (TTM), which is part of the online SUCCESS program (Texas Students Using Curriculum Content to Ensure Sustained Success), shows a serious lack of that knowledge about the real world of teachers, student behavior, and administrative leadership.

Based on the report’s summary, whether or not the TTM curriculum was valuable and improved student learning could not be accurately assessed. One wonders why such a massive effort would have been agreed to by the Texas Education Agency instead of setting up small pilot programs with defined groups of children across this giant state.

At least the researchers admitted to numerous problems that prevented an appropriate assessment of their program. Some of the mistakes they cited were as follows:

1) “Unmeasured teacher quality (pages 15-16): The research team did not have access to information about the teachers to whom students were assigned. THEREFORE…caution should be used when attributing achievement outcomes to Texas SUCCESS programs.”

2) “Unmeasured differences between participating and non-participating students (page 16): “Despite best efforts,… no guarantee can be made that participants and nonparticipants are identical with the exception of their exposure to the SUCCESS program. This is a fundamental, and unavoidable, challenge confronting any attempts to draw inferences about the effect of a social phenomenon (such as an academic intervention) using observational data where students were not randomized to receive, or not receive, treatment. If these unmeasured, or omitted, factors are correlated with program participation or the outcome, the estimates of the effect of program intervention are biased.”

 3) Finally, in understanding what teachers see every day with their students, the report concluded (page 17) that “…students’ slow and/or accurate behavioral responses to the digital curriculum can be affected by numerous factors, such as the following:

“their familiarity and comfort with computers and online programs, 

“their general level of engagement or disengagement,

“classroom distractions, or

“inattentive or busy teachers who are not able provide assistance quickly to help struggling students.”

4) One surprise for the researchers was how different grade levels responded to using the program. There was a distinct and early decreased use by 8th grade students. Interests of middle school students are vastly different and more demanding than 5th grade students, as any middle school teacher will attest. Getting them to use TTM required more than setting them in front of a computer. Why the turnoff? That’s a question for researchers to ask teachers.

In essence, there was the faulty assumption that because a product is digital and animated, students and teachers will like it and thus use it. It’s assumed teachers will be willing to add it to their already loaded plate of instructional assignments (character education, social-emotional learning activities, hands-on projects, as well as teaching core subjects, etc.). That means they are also willing to determine what items can be removed from their daily lineup to allow for any program’s proven and effective use.

5) (page 10) “Outside of TTM, most district- and campus-level staff reported using other strategies or programs to support students in meeting SSI grade promotion requirements. With regard to other mathematics programs, only 18% of schools reported using TTM exclusively as supplementary math program, while 82% of schools indicated that they used at least one other mathematics program. Considering whether these other programs were coordinated with TTM, less than half of interviewees indicated that this coordination occurred, citing a lack of time and scheduling difficulties as reasons for the lack of coordination.

In closing, we need to look at some unusually frank remarks made by the researchers:

6) (page 15) “It is critical to consider the following important caveats related to this study’s methodology when considering implications of the results discussed above, and as presented in the rest of this report.”

“…there was not a group of students who did not have access to the systems, whose… mathematics achievement could be compared to students who did have such access. In other words, all schools’ access to the systems prevented the evaluation team from comparing reading and mathematics outcomes from a treatment group, or students who had access to the programs, to a control group, or students who did not. If this condition had been a part of SUCCESS implementation—particularly if students had been randomly assigned to treatment or control groups—it would have been possible to say that the two groups were statistically equal at the start of the program. In this case, any differences in their achievement afterward would be attributable to the one condition that differentiated the groups (i.e., whether they had access to SUCCESS interventions or not).”

In spite of the massive amount of statistical data shown in their “Addendum Report,” the fact is there cannot be concrete conclusions drawn that prove SUCCESS had success among a significant number of Texas students. One must question why the state would allocate big money to a project without better guidance on vendors’ understanding of the unique components found within schools called “people.”

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