That Idaho superintendent so enamored of Apple’s goodies even admitted: “We’re not trying to boost a test score here, we are trying to change a narrative for students.”
I’ll control my own kids’ “narratives” and their personal data, thank you very much.
Parents from all parts of the political spectrum understand that “personalized learning” is Silicon Valley propaganda to distract from the true aim: Grabbing student and family data under the guise of “innovation” and luring the next generation of addicted consumers. Another unhealthy byproduct of the tech toy infiltration: an onslaught of online ads. Education watchdog Cheri Kiesecker reported this month that Missouri school kids required to download educational apps, sign up for online accounts and use tech devices logged into Google products were exposed to advertising for everything from “vaping” to “insurance, medicine, automobiles, toys, clothing, candy, and a wide range of apps and video games.”
I’ve reported previously on how the Los Angeles Unified School District dumped $1 billion of scarce resources into a disastrous iPad program. Educrats paid $678 per glorified Apple e-textbook, pre-loaded with Common Core-branded apps created by the educational publishing and testing giant Pearson. Pearson’s digital learning products are now used by an estimated 25 million-plus customers in North America. Common Core, far from dead, has been a convenient new catalyst for getting the next generation of consumers hooked.
Four years after ending its original iPad giveaway fiasco, L.A. school officials are at it again. In October, Verizon provided middle schools in the L.A. unified school district a $2 million grant for “iPads, digital resources, and free home Internet access” for one year — no doubt crammed with nonstop Verizon ads.
Now, Facebook — under fire for privacy breaches worldwide — is peddling something called “Summit Learning,” a web-based curriculum bankrolled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Last month, students in New York City schools walked out in protest of the program.
“It’s annoying to just sit there staring at one screen for so long,” freshman Mitchel Storman, 14, told the New York Post. He spends close to five hours a day on Summit classes in algebra, biology, English, world history and physics. Teacher interaction is minimal. “You have to teach yourself,” Storman rightly complained.
No outside research supports any claim that Summit Learning actually enhances, um, learning. What more studies are showing, however, is that endless hours of screen time are turning kids into zombies who are more easily distracted, less happy, less socially adept and less physically fit. Asserting your family’s “right to no” may well be the best long-term gift you can give your school-age children.