Saturday, February 12, 2011

Education Reform, or how to make Bill Gates rich?

Over the last few days Sandra in Brevard has published a series of blog on my website, Today I'm Grumpy About on the subject of Education Reform in Florida.  I first started blogging with Sandra during the 2009 Obamacare discussions.  From there we worked on the SB 6 Education Reform Proposal.  She opposed the bill and explained her reasons very clearly, it took her about two minutes to explain to me why the Proposal was a disaster trying to happen..  Let's jump forward to this year

Most of you know what data mining is, all of you have experienced its uses.  Go to a media website and read an article, immediately the site will suggest something else for you to read or buy.  Visit the site several times, ad the ads are likely to start being for things you might really want to buy.  Each time you visit the site, the site adds to what it knows about, your interests and habits.

It seems that Microsoft has patented a way to data mine school kids, K-12 and beyond, all in the name of improving education.  Sandra found out about about it, researched it, and describes it, much better than I ever could, in her blogs,  Data Mining: An Education Reform Strategy and Follow Up to Data Mining.  .

Frankly it looks like Bill Gates, Tallahassee and Obama have teamed up to Data Mine our children, with  good intentions and in the name of education reform (off course). It seems Florida is getting almost Ten Million Dollars over four years from DC to allow Microsoft to electronically pick our kids brains., Bill Gates put it this way,

".....would analyze information and make recommendations with the goal of aiding a person's decisions and improving quality of life."
In her blog Data Mining: An Education Reform Strategy We find out, Tallahassee is getting almost 10 million over four years to sell our kids data to
Provide several different reporting capabilities for use by a myriad of stakeholders
Wonder what Google or Amazon would be willing to pay Microsoft for all the information they might collect about Florida's kids?  Don't need to look too hard to find this:
Applications or services can interact with such data and present it to users in a myriad of manners, for instance as notifications of opportunities. Of course, it's not all about improving lives: Further down, the patent explains that "such data can be afforded to businesses involved in market analysis, or the like, in a manner that balances privacy issues of users with demand for high quality information from businesses
WTF; That makes it very clear that the information gleaned will at some-point be used commercially.  We have no way of knowing if "privacy issues" will be "balanced" or even who is defining balance. What we know is that at some point the information will be sold to someone.  For all we know, that someone could be a company in China or Saudi Arabia. 

Even is we take that out of the equation, how much trust can we put into the US Government to protect the information they're gathering from the experiment?  In the recent past the personal information of millions of Americans has been compromised by hackers who have accessed Pentagon, Social Security and Veterans Agency computers.  How secure is our kids information in the hands of a Government that allowed Wiki Leaks?

In her blog, Follow Up to Data Mining this got my attention..

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Foundation funds the Broad Residency, which searches for individuals with MBA's and in industry for candidates to take rapid training to take on positions as superintendents and other managerial positions in our nation's school districts. The Broad Foundation subsidizes salaries once hired on. The Broad Center announced it's placed "the largest class of 42 early career executives into 28 public education systems, expanding for the first tie into state departments of education." One Broad Resident now works for Hillsborough County Public Schools.  (Fla)

Why does that look as if Bill Gates is subsidizing the training then the salaries of individuals who will be in a position to make purchasing decisions that will involve public funds and Microsoft.  If the people were direct employees of Microsoft, it would be a crime.  Microsoft is avoiding that by laundering the money through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and into the Board Center Foundation who actually pays the bills.  Because the Corporations are different individuals, this is probably legal.  Microsoft technically has no connection to Board Center.  That is if you don't count the 3.6 million they gave the Board to help get Board Center Trained People into selected positions.

Folks it ain't just Florida, you can find out if your state is involved by by taking a look at the Board Center Website It becomes clear very quickly that this isn't exactly a conservative vs liberal issue.  The sponsors are among the most progressive (or regressive) liberals in the country, on the other hand, it seems like conservative legislatures, like the one in Tallahassee Florida, have no problem overlooking children's privacy rights if they can get their hands on some easy money.  I'm sure it never occurred to them that all this data could serve as a way to chose individuals to target for votes and donations in the very near future.

As for as Bill Gate's saying his organization can guide people into making better decisions?  Most ministers will tell you God himself thought we should be allowed free choice, the right to make our own mistakes without his interference.  I know not all of you believe in God, but do you believe Bill Gates has the right to do what most of us believe neither God or Government has the power to do?

I've emailed Florida Senators; Haridopolos, Wise and Altman to ask how exactly this scheme fits into their plan to reform Florida's Education System.  When they reply I will make those replies available to all my readers

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