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Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world.”-Vladimir Lenin

 

Classroom Technology: Research Increasingly Shows No Measureable Improvement
By Carole Hornsby Haynes  |  February 20, 2017  Texas Insider

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.

American K-12 education is spending nearly $5 billion annually on technology, while cutting budgets and laying off teachers.  Even though school reformers want to believe that digitized learning has the potential to revolutionize education, research is piling up that technology does not lead to measureable improvements in student achievement, but rather is depressing it.  

Texas leaders are among those ignoring the massive amount of evidence on educational technology and its effect on children, listening instead to those who profit handsomely from edtech.  The taxpayers have no voice in the matter yet are being saddled with the cost.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott wants all of the state’s 5.2 million students to have access to broadband internet by 2018.  Currently about 1.5 million do not have access.

In March 2016, Governor Abbott and Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced that Texas will partner with Education Superhighway to launch the Texas Classroom Connectivity Initiative.  

Education Superhighway is a national non-profit company working with 42 states to upgrade internet access.  According to the company’s website, “Our children are to learn skills for tomorrow with dial-up speeds of the past…High-speed broadband is key to restoring our educational standing.  Our schools now rank 27th in math, 17th in reading, 20th in science, and 16th in technological readiness compared to other developed nations. ….We must leverage technology to transform education.”

That technology does not increase student test scores is borne out by the 2015 study of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spanning 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 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.

During his promotion of ConnectEd in 2013, President Obama cited a Mooresville, North Carolina school district as a success story, stating that student achievement soared after computer facilities were upgraded. He then proposed expanding the E-Rate budget from $2.25 billion to $4 billion annually.

Obama’s remark prompted an E-rate study by Clemson and Georgetown Universities.  The researchers gathered data from all North Carolina public schools from 2000 to 2013 and analyzed if and how SAT scores in math and verbal reasoning changed as schools received E-Rate funding. Researcher Dr. Thomas Hazlett reported that “the more E-Rate funding a school received, the worse its students performed.”

Problems created by digital devices are being widely reported at all levels of education -- distractions, lower comprehension, shallow reading, and emotionally disconnected students.  Some teachers are now banning the use of computers in their classrooms.  

The 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) throws even more taxpayer money at school technology programs through grants for such programs as “Student Support and Academic Enhancement.”

Texas is currently implementing ESSA, which focuses primarily on social emotional learning and its assessment rather than academic learning. 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” --  code word for digital learning.  The goal of mapping is more difficult if a student is reading books and writing on paper.  

A major reason for the opting out of computerized tests across the nation is the data mining of highly personal information.

Technology companies are making billions from the sale of technology products to schools.   They promote laying off teachers so more money will be available for technology, ignoring the volume of research that shows how critical teachers are for student learning.  Ignored, too, is the high cost of building the infrastructure and maintaining and upgrading equipment.

As a former teacher, I agree wholeheartedly with Google Executive Alan Eagle who 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.”

Good teachers don’t require fancy tech devices to impart a solid academic education. Good teachers can teach anywhere and with no more than a chalkboard or even pencil and paper…even without textbooks.

Progressives advocate for equal outcomes and are looking for a magic bullet to achieve what will never be achieved. Humans are uniquely different and will achieve at different levels in life…always and always.

The problems in public education are far too complex to be covered here but many have been created by the federal government’s policies.  No amount of money thrown down the technology rat hole is going to solve those problems. But that is a topic for another day.

For now, our Texas leaders need to get off the E-rate bandwagon and spend that money in higher pay for outstanding teachers.

What You Can Do:  Call Governor Abbott  (512) 463-2000     Texas House     Texas Senate  
•    Tell your Texas elected officials you want the federal E-rate program eliminated

Are Texas Lawmakers Funding ‘Digital Heroin’ for School Children?   
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.    February 13, 2017    Texas Insider

The Texas House Committee on Public Education wants to utilize high-tech digital learning to improve student achievement and fulfill future workforce demands. The popular notion is that students need computer time to compete in the 21st century.

Yet at the epicenter of the technology industry some parents hold a contrarian viewpoint, choosing instead to send their children to schools that have no computers at all and some even frown on home computers.   

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 there’s no need to rush children into technology, “It is super easy.  It’s like learning to use toothpaste.”  He believes kids can figure out technology when they are older. “At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain dead easy to use as possible.”  

Also disagreeing with the popular notion that students without digital tools are being cheated is Paul Thomas, an associate professor education at Furman University and author about public educational methods.  “Teaching is a human experience…technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”

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.”

Ignoring the growing body of negative research, some Texas educators are pushing for increased Pre-K funding so they can purchase more interactive games and smart-device applications.

Not so fast, writes Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, one the nation’s foremost addiction experts and author of Glow Kids.  Video games, computers, cell phones and tablets are all “digital drugs” that stunt a child’s neural development. Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic” cocaine” while Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.”  

Recent studies show these digital drugs affect the brain’s frontal cortex in exactly the same way that cocaine does.  According to Kardaras, “An MRI of a tech addict and an MRI of a drug addict are the same – they both neurophysiologically affect the brain.”

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.

American K-12 schools are spending nearly $5 billion annually for digital tools. For profit publishers are the driving force behind this while educators are buying in with little thought for negative consequences – or perhaps they fear losing their jobs.

Consider this report about the impact of computer access on student achievement.  

Distractions. Eighty-five percent of students confess to multi-tasking while reading online compared with 26 percent who multi-task while reading print.

Lower comprehension.  Students cite being distracted on e-books and skimming materials. Online sentences tend to be short with links to the complicated information.  Because their comprehension is so poor, students are having difficulty reading the classics because they are unable to read the longer sentences with multiple, winding clauses full of background information.

Shallow reading. Digital reading impedes the development of critical thinking because students are skimming rather than reading deeply.

Taking notes on computers. Students who write notes by hand must listen, digest, and summarize rather than writing each spoken word. The handwritten method forces different types of cognitive processing that foster comprehension and retention. Students taking longhand notes performed better on assessments than those who used laptops to take notes.

Lower assessment scores on computers. Students who took the 2014-15 Common Core aligned PARCC exams via computer tended to score lower than those who took the exams with paper and pencil.  

Social and emotional skills are affected. Students who spend more time on-screen are disconnected emotionally because emails and texts lack the emotive qualities of face-to-face interaction.  School districts in Texas are now remediating this disconnection by setting up social and emotional learning classes with testing on these non-cognitive skills.  Of course, Texans get the bill for this additional expense to solve a problem created by educators.

No added instructional value.  In a study by University of Southern California Professor Patricia Burch, English language learners and students with disabilities were significantly less likely than other students to benefit from the combination of personal interaction and online programs. They performed better with personal instruction.

An international study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that 15-year-olds in 31 nations and regions, using computers more frequently at school, had both lower reading and lower math scores on the Program for International Assessment (PISA).   

There are very few positive findings about online learning in K-12. Nearly every study of virtual school performance has found student performance to be lagging. Few studies exist about the effectiveness of blended learning in K-12.  Most studies are for older learners in other settings such as medical, career, military training, and higher education.

So where do we go from here?

Since access to computers has not improved academic achievement and has profound negative conse-quences, that leaves the purely vocational aim of preparing students for jobs in the information-driven labor market as the justification for K-12 to spend taxpayer money.  

High-tech entrepreneurs, vendors, media executives, and school district policy makers will continue to claim that computers and technology will make fundamental changes in education.  Because the K -12 educational technology market is so lucrative for investors, entrepreneurs, and vendors who benefit from sales, there is great pressure on Texas policy makers to, not only continue, but expand the use of technology in the classroom, regardless of the negative consequences for students.

With the continuing trend away from academics toward job training by public education, the deeper issue is being ignored:  What is the main purpose of taxpayer funded public education?  Much was written by our Founding Fathers about the necessity of an academic education to prepare all citizens to be guardians of the American democracy. 

With the collectivist workforce training now being the primary reason for American public education, our founding principles are undermined.   

Do Texans really want to continue funding millions annually for educational technology in the face of such negative consequences for children and for the future of our American experiment?

What You Can Do:
Call or write your Texas State Legislators.      Texas House     Texas Senate
•    Tell them to stop using public education money to enrich technology companies that do not care about the negative consequences they are creating for Texas children.
•    Tell them Texas children deserve the type of education that many elite tech leaders provide for their own children: a traditional paper and pencil academic education.

Texas State Board of Education Turns Back Common Core Effort, Stands Firm on English Standards
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. |  February 8, 2017  Texas Insider

For the past tumultuous year and a half, the Texas English language arts and reading (ELAR) curriculum standards (TEKS) have been under review – actually rewritten rather than reviewed as the panel was instructed.

A small faction attempted to hijack the current standards approved in 2008 by eliminating the literary/historical content to create new standards that are Common Core-compliant and suitable for Common Core-aligned tests.

Common Core Faction Tries to Take Over Texas’ English Standards
By Carole Hornsby Haynes  | January 30, 2017   Texas Insider

It seems that Texas is an ongoing battle ground for K-12 standards reviews.  We’re still in a war to get the Common Core process standards stripped out of the math standards  adopted in 2012.  Now the English standards review seems headed for a shootout at this week’s State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting.

Is There A Solution to the STAAR Problem?

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. |  January 26, 2017  Texas Insider

Recently Texas State Rep. Jason Isaac, vice chair of the Texas Conservative Coalition & State Representative from House Dist. 45, told Texas Insider Jim Cardle that teachers are spending 46 days of the school year preparing their students to take the STAAR test.

What the Senate Should Ask Trump's Pick for Education Chief
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. |  January 16, 2017   Education Views    

President-Elect Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on January 17.  While Democrats greatly fear what she might do to reduce their tyrannical control over public education, conservatives also are deeply concerned about where she stands on various issues.

Staunch Common Core Supporter Is Top Contender for U.S. Education #1 Deputy
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  |  January 16, 2017  Education Views

Getting rid of Common Core and supporting school choice were both campaign promises of President-Elect Donald Trump.  So it's a mystery why Allan B. Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush and executive director of the President’s Council on Competitiveness and deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, is reported by Education Next to be a top contender to serve as Betsy DeVos’ #1 deputy should she be confirmed.

Common Core Math in Texas: Texas Math Scores Drop Worst in U.S., Says Expert
By Carole Hornsby Haynes   Part 5 of the Series: “The results in Grade 8 are virtually catastrophic.”
January 11, 2016      Texas Insider

During the 2012 Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) math curriculum standards review, Dr. James Milgram, a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee and the only content expert in mathematics for the standards, reviewed both the first and second Texas drafts.  He publicly declared that the second draft showed every indication of being among the best, if not the best, state math standards in the country.

However, the final draft was dramatically altered in the final version that Milgram received from the TEA. A Common Core format had been added and pure math content reduced.

Why the Dems Loathe Betsy DeVos
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. | January 10, 2017   Education Views  (Original title: "Betsy DeVos: Public School Enemy #1)
The Senate confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Donald Trump's nomination for Secretary of Education, are scheduled to begin January 17.  Already the liberal hypocrites are doing what they do best –  character assassination of anyone not of their radical ilk. 

Common Core Math in Texas?  And Why Has the SBOE Done Nothing to Resolve the Issue?
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. Part 4 of the Series: “SBOE kicks Common Core Math down the road”
December 6, 2016  Texas Insider

On November 16, 2016 the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) heard still more testimony about the Common Core process standards that are deeply embedded within the current 2012 SBOE adopted math standards. After several years of public rage over Common Core being found in instructional materials and on STAAR tests despite Texas law, one has to wonder why the SBOE has done nothing to resolve the issue.

Common Core Math in Texas: Did the TEA Overstep Its Authority On Math Curriculum Standards?
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  -  Part 2 of the Series, “Common Core Math War Rages in Texas”
November 14, 2016   Texas Insider

In Part I of this series, we explored why Dr. James Milgram, one of the national experts for the Texas Math Curriculum Standards review, is so critical of Common Core.  The only math content expert on the Common Core Validation Committee, Milgram refused to approve the Core Math Standards because of their low expectations.  

Common Core Math in Texas:  Why Texas Schools Should Not Use Centralized Government Control
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.   Part 1 of the Series: Common Core Math War Rages in Texas
November 2, 2016 Texas Insider

In 2012 the Texas State Board of Education approved new math curriculum standards.  Since then chaos has erupted because Common Core process standards have managed to creep into math materials and STAAR tests.

Since Common Core is illegal in Texas, how could this happen? 

Why Texas Must Start Education Savings Accounts
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  |  October 28, 2016  Texas Insider

Texans boast that we’re a national leader on many fronts.  However, school choice is not one of them. Half of the states have already enacted school choice while Texas remains entrenched in a 19th century industrial model of education with bureaucrats fighting to preserve their control over how children are educated when it is the right of parents.

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