OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT
The Harmful Consequences of Screen Technologies
October 30, 2018
Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
cc: Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath
Dear Governor Abbott:
Despite negative research about the effects of technology on the well-being of children and on academic achievement, Texas continues to press forward with expanding digital programs and devices in Texas public schools.
American Citizens Matter has published a report on digital learning, The Harmful Consequences of Screen Technologies in Texas Education, which accompanies this cover letter.
There is much proof that the federal government as well as tech companies are pushing addictive educational video games and digital programs into American classrooms. The nation’s foremost addiction expert finds it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than a true tech addict.
Millions of educational data points on each student are mined and stored and made available to registered users without parental knowledge or approval. The data is generated from interactive tutoring systems, educational games, and open online courses.
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.
Experts report that students have become so accustomed to skimming materials online, with interactive distractions, that their reading comprehension has declined, which is affecting their ability to read the classics. The development of student social and communication skills is also being affected. Schools are ignoring the research about the higher rates of ADHD due to exposure to digital screens and will be held responsible for this.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that students with classroom computer access had lower scores on reading and math tests. Despite this research from the OECD as well as 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, even though the study is flawed. The websites of the four online vendors approved by TEA leave no doubt that their software is designed to stimulate children and offer prizes/incentives, shown by research to be addictive and especially children under 10.
Even as Texas schools promote education through devices with screens, the rich are banning screens from their children’s schools altogether. Google executive Chris Eagle stated, “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that's ridiculous.”
Our Texas leaders claim that students will be at a great disadvantage without classroom technology. If our leaders are really concerned about educating children, they will heed the the sage advice from Steve Jobs in a 1996 interview, “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.”
Texas citizens are holding our leaders accountable for providing our students a tech-free education prior to high school and then only very limited digital access.
Further, we are holding you accountable for stopping the psychological manipulation of students and the assault on our privacy that is being shredded with data mining and storing and sharing of personal information.
American Citizens Matter