An Education startup’s digital education plans are utterly Orwellian and disturbing.
— A.P. Dillon – LL1885 (@LadyLiberty1885) January 13, 2016
In an article posted at EdWeek, details on an Education organization’s digital curriculum plans were laid out and include plans for massive data collection and surveillance that is currently targeting K-8 students.
Imagine classrooms outfitted with cameras that run constantly, capturing each child’s every facial expression, fidget, and social interaction, every day, all year long.
Then imagine on the ceilings of those rooms infrared cameras, documenting the objects that every student touches throughout the day, and microphones, recording every word that each person utters.
Picture now the children themselves wearing Fitbit-like devices that track everything from their heart rates to their time between meals. For about a quarter of the day, the students use Chromebooks and learning software that track their every click and keystroke.
What you’re seeing is the future of K-12 education through the eyes of Max Ventilla, the CEO of AltSchool, a Bay Area startup that represents the most aggressive, far-reaching foray into the world of big data and analytics that the K-12 education sector has seen to date.
So who is Altschool?
It’s founded and run by former Google+ founder, Max Ventilla, along with a host of lawyers, big corporation types and folks from higher education. Scroll down to the ‘Technology’ personnel — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft LinkedIn, Zynga and Teach for America all are represented. More are listed in a press release from March 2015.
Who funds Altschool?
According to their website, investors include, “Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz, with follow-on funding from First Round Capital and Harrison Metal and participation from John Doerr, Jonathan Sackler, Learn Capital, and Omidyar Network.”
According to their press releases, they have raised over $133 million. One round of fundraising at $33 million and another of $100 million. Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz gave money in both rounds of fundraising.
Of note in the $100 million round press release, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was mention.
From the Education/Curriculum page, emphasis added:
We believe learning should be both rigorous and engaging for students. A strong academic foundation opens doors to the high schools and colleges of their choice and prepares them with the skills necessary to succeed in the modern world.
In addition to building skills for how to learn, AltSchool students build competency across core academic domains. Educators assess student work and progress against each student’s individual learning objectives and nationally recognized standards, including Common Core English and Math, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Social Emotional Learning Competencies (CASEL). To build a strong academic foundation, students advance when they have demonstrated competency in an area, not because the class has advanced.
Not only is AltSchool using the flawed Common Core, it’s also using the highly criticized Next Gen Science standards AND “Social Emotional Learning Competencies”.
If you don’t know who or what CASEL is, get familiar with them. Fast.
The message is clear: Your child will be profiled and tracked in every way possible from cradle to grave.