Is this true? Is NYSED telling parents they can't opt out of sharing data about their children with corporations? According to Stephanie Simon at Reuters:
Oh, that's such a relief. I mean, it's not like private companies have a history of data leaking or anything...Federal officials say the database project complies with privacy laws. Schools do not need parental consent to share student records with any "school official" who has a "legitimate educational interest," according to the Department of Education. The department defines "school official" to include private companies hired by the school, so long as they use the data only for the purposes spelled out in their contracts. [emphasis mine]
So John King refuses to allow parents to control data about their own children. And he threatens schools with "an accountability consequence" if its parents decide en masse to opt out of standardized testing. And he bullies school districts that don't do things on his timetable, no matter how unreasonable it may be. And he insists on full implementation of the Common Core, a set of standards written by a foul-mouthed lawyer, and backed by corporate interests, that has never been field tested:
Teachers will have to de-emphasize some math units like patterns, King said, in order to spend more time on units like fractions, which are linked to higher concepts.And his evidence that this is a good thing is...
[Chirp, chirp, chirp...]
So Commissioner King is telling parents, teachers, and school districts it's his way or the highway. But as for his own kids...
He now lives in Slingerlands, outside of Albany, with his wife, Melissa, a researcher for Scholastic Inc., whom he met on a blind date while both were teachers in Boston. Their two children, Amina, 7, and Mareya, 4, attend a Montessori school. [emphasis mine]Wha, huh, wha?
Now, keep in mind that John King started the Uncommon Schools charter chain in New York City. What sort of learning environment did Uncommon promote?
Benefits of Montessori
Maria Monterssori famously said: "No one can be free unless he is independent."At the Relay Graduate School of Education (RGSE), teacher education that balances research, theory and practice has been replaced by ‘filling the pail’ training. Designed to serve the needs of three charter school chains — KIPP, Achievement First and Uncommon Schools— RGSE has no university affiliation, yet awards masters degrees in New York State.[...]I invite readers to watch the Relay Graduate School of Education video entitled “Rigorous Classroom Discussion,” which you can find here. Go to the link and look for the title. In the video, the teacher barks commands and questions, often with the affect and speed of a drill sergeant. The questions concern the concept of a “character trait” but are low-level, often in a ‘fill in the blank’ format. The teacher cuts the student off as he attempts to answer the question. Students engage in the bizarre behavior of wiggling their fingers to send ‘energy’ to a young man, Omari, put on the spot by the teacher. Students’ fingers point to their temple and they wiggle hands in the air to send signals. Hands shoot up before the question is asked, and think time is never given to formulate thoughtful answers. When Omari confuses the word ‘ambition’ with ‘anxious’ (an error that is repeated by a classmate), you know that is how he is feeling at the moment. As the video closes with the command, “hands down, star position, continue reading” there is not the warmth of a teacher smile, nor the utterance of ‘please’. The original question is forgotten and you are left to wonder if anyone understands what a character trait is. The pail was filled with ‘something’ and the teacher moves on. [emphasis mine]
John King isn't just a bully; he's the biggest hypocrite on two feet. His own children are allowed to be in an environment of "respect and loving kindness," free to explore the world "at their own pace" without being encumbered by an untested set of standards that has no research basis.
But your kids? Yeah, not so much...
One more thing: I get a lot of tips these days from all sorts of people. I wrote this post after someone sent me the name of King's kids' school. I looked up its website, and then I looked at it on Google Maps, and it's beautiful. Any parent would want this sort of school, and this sort of experience, for his or her child.
But I won't publish the name of this school. I'm going to extend a courtesy to John King that he won't extend to the parents he is supposedly serving. His children are entitled to their privacy, as are all children - even if their father is a screaming hypocrite.
ADDING: Some more about Uncommon Schools:
Maria Montessori would be spinning in her grave if she ever found out what was going on in King's old schools.As I read the Match manual, Pedro Noguera’s speech at Morningside’s Courageous School conference came to mind. Speaking of his visit to an Uncommon Charter School (Uncommon School leaders are on the Match and Relay ‘faculty’) he said:“I've visited this school, and I noticed that children are not allowed to talk in the hall, and they get punished for the most minor infraction. And when I talked with John King afterwards, I said, "I've never seen a school that serves affluent children where they're not allowed to talk in the hall." And he said, "Well, that might be true, but this is the model that works for us, we've found that this is the model that our kids need."So I asked him, "Are you preparing these kids to be leaders or followers? Because leaders get to talk in the hall. They get to talk over lunch, they get to go to the bathroom, and people can trust them. They don't need surveillance and police officers in the bathroom." And he looked at me like I was talking Latin, because his mindset is that these children couldn't do that.” [emphasis mine]
"No one can be free unless he is independent."
-- Maria Montessori
"Some animals are more independent than others."
-- George Orwell (eh, close enough...)