Education Week - May 20, 2015 - (Page 24)

LETTERS to the EDITOR State Teachers of the Year Defend the Common Core To the Editor: In any profession, there are outstanding individuals who inspire others to greater heights. Teaching is no different in this regard, and we are proud to stand among our peers as Teachers of the Year in our states. We are united in our commitment to educate our students in a way that puts them on the road to success after graduation. And we mourn the loss of excellent teachers we see leaving our profession too soon because they feel their impact has lessened. We are also united in our frustration about the maelstrom of misinformation on the Common Core State Standards that has become so pervasive as to be considered truth. Unfortunately, false statements on the common core have been perpetuated by some of our profession's most respected teachers, such as Nancie Atwell, the winner of the first Global Teacher Prize, who recently discouraged today's students from becoming tomorrow's teachers ("Honored Educator Decries Current Climate for Teaching," April 1, 2015). We want to set the record straight by explaining what the common core is-and what it isn't. The common core is not a federal takeover of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a rigid model for classroom instruction, as Ms. Atwell's comments suggest. In fact, under the common core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons-and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states. As teachers, we are the experts on what happens in our classrooms. We know best how to structure lessons so that both high achievers and struggling learners can master concepts and apply their learning to reallife situations. The common core also gives educators the flexibility to adjust to students' multiple learning styles while allowing those same students to progress at their own pace. Moreover, the standards preserve and strengthen local control by ensuring that classroom teachers make the day-to-day decisions, and that longer-term curriculum planning is done at the district level. As teachers, we want all of our students to achieve to their full potential. Yes, the common core creates a pathway to success. But it's just the path. The steps on that path are taken by teachers and parents alike who bolster students through academic frustrations and celebrate their achievements. We are proud to be teachers, proud of our profession, and proud to be helping students take strides on their path to becoming welleducated, successful adults. This letter was written collectively and in partnership with the Collaborative for Student Success, and signed by the following State Teachers of the Year, listed with their years of selection: Alison Grizzle, Alabama, 2014; Amanda McAdams, Arizona, 2011; Kristie Martorelli, Arizona, 2012; Beth Maloney, Arizona, 2014; John-David Bowman, Arizona, 2015; Ouida Newton, Arkansas, 2015; Elizabeth Miner, Colorado, 2014; Jemelleh Coes, Georgia, 2014; Jeff Baxter, Kansas, 2014; Melody Arabo, Michigan, 2015; Angie Miller, New Hampshire, 2011; Jeff Hinton, Nevada, 2014; James Ford, North Carolina, 2015; Lori Michalec, Ohio, 2015; Karen Vogelsang, Tennessee, 2015; Mike Funkhouser, West Virginia, 2013; Terry Kaldhusdal, Wisconsin, 2011; Amy Traynor, Wisconsin, 2013; Jane McMahon, Wisconsin, 2014; Diana Callope, Wisconsin, 2015; and Mick Wiest, Wyoming, 2014. Governor's School Choice Essay Ignores Research, Critic Says To the Editor: While Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's support for more choice among public schools has been positive, his Commentary "School Choice Works, Privatization Won't" (April 22, 2015) is short-sighted and disappointing. He overlooks the vital role of parents in holding schools directly accountable. School choice programs cultivate localized, parent-driven accountability. The "exit" option is a powerful signal allowing parents to hold accountable private schools and public charter schools. A warning of student departure provides a strong incentive for a Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28 the power was out and the computer systems were down. Guests were being asked to sign in on paper and to write down their credit card numbers-and many people were doing it. In a school, this lack of vigilance would place our students' data at tremendous risk. What this experience teaches us is that technology alone cannot ensure studentdata privacy. Instead, we need to enact a massive cultural shift. School administrators must understand that student-data privacy is not just a concern for IT administrators, but also for the executive leadership, who must take responsibility to drive the change needed throughout their organizations. All the security patches in the world don't do much good when information is locally stored on a laptop that can be left in a car, or a network-security password is taped to a computer monitor. To drive this cultural shift, we must take a holistic look at how sophisticated and complex student-data privacy has become. We must rigorously explore the implications for kids, parents, and school systems alike. A year ago, a nationwide snowstorm canceled classes after school had started, so the students needed to be picked up. Some were at school, some were still on the bus, and many parents were stuck as well. This created a situation in which parents did not know where their children were, and gps technology could have played an important role. Location tracking, however, adds a host of privacy issues we haven't had to deal with until recently: how to track student locations, whom to share this information with, and what to do if parents wish to opt out. Regardless of whether a school is rural, suburban, or urban, or is large or small, there are a few fundamentals I can offer from my experience in school technology to help protect student-data privacy: * Build data-privacy policies into your school culture, so that every faculty and administrative staff member is thinking about it whenever student data is involved. Promote this approach among all employees, from the newest teacher up to the superintendent. * Be very wary of "free" technology solutions. You may end up paying with students' data, rather than cash. * When you work with a technology company, don't just ask for a product demonstration. Demand an executive briefing that will show you step by step and scenario by scenario exactly how data will be protected. * Data privacy often has legal implications; make sure school or district lawyers are involved in the policymaking process. * Take advantage of reliable online resources that clarify why data privacy is important, best-in-class privacy standards, and strategies for tailoring a school's or district's data-privacy policies. Making these principles a priority will not only provide a solid basis for improving your student-data-privacy policy, but will also help create better and more equitable educational opportunities for all students. When my daughter started middle school this year, I felt a tingle of déjà vu when I looked at her school supply list. I checked it against supply lists I found online for an array of districts around the country and realized it was the same school supply list I was given when I was her age. As William Gibson famously said in the early '90s, "The future is already here; it's just not evenly distributed." Even now, schools are often unable to make the best use of technology. My daughter is fortunate in that I'm in a position to spark her curiosity at home through tech tools. She can use a usb microscope to look at a tooth that she lost, or navigate a drone in our backyard to learn about geospatial information and geography. But all children should have the opportunity for such customized and technologically enhanced experiences, while their parents and educators work together to ensure their privacy is protected. n 24 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 20, 2015 | Is the Public Ever Really Private? CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28 by commercial enterprises is ubiquitous. Companies track for criticism of their brands, to understand consumer sentiment, and sometimes to respond to specific consumer problems. The Comcast staffer managing the @ComcastCares Twitter handle even became a minor Internet hero for his efforts to address concerns that consumers of that cable giant were venting about on Twitter. However, the line between monitoring consumer sentiment in general and tracking individual customers is unclear and ill-defined. Companies need to understand public perceptions about both different types of online tracking and different sorts of consumer concerns. Monitoring by schools appears to be even more complex. Many schools and districts have reacted to school shootings, student suicides, and bullying concerns by connecting with social-media-monitoring companies to help them identify problems for which school personnel, parents, or even law enforcement may need to take action. Parents appear to have largely accepted this general practice. In fact, when tragedies have taken place, the first reaction has often been to scour social media to see whether there were clues that should have led to action or intervention. Yet many parents had the opposite reaction to the recent revelation that Pearson-the educational testing and publishing company-was monitoring social media for any discussion by students of test questions on the Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College and Careers, or parcc, a national standardized test. Pearson explained that its action was part of ensuring a fair testing environment. Further, the company was actually obligated by its state contracts and by test-certification standards to ensure that test questions weren't being shared by students. In this case, state education officials defended Pearson's activity, and noted that monitoring for the sharing of test questions by students is a longtime practice conducted by most states. Some of the most vocal critics of the social monitoring were also strong critics of standardized testing, suggesting displeasure with standardized testing in general, as much as the privacy issues raised in their criticism. Since the alternative of turning a blind eye to online evidence of sharing test questions or answers isn't feasible, it appears that such monitoring will continue to be required by states and test providers. Policies that oversee who does the monitoring, and ensure that school officials handle decisions about any warnings or student discipline, will need to be made clear. It is evident that new digital capabilities, along with the enhanced capacity to ubiquitously monitor and analyze individuals, are disrupting social norms. Some privacy thought leaders are developing a concept of "privacy through obscurity," which explores the legal and ethical issues involving privacy in public spaces. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or darpa, the military agency famous for developing the Internet, has just launched a major effort to fund technologies that help secure online privacy through technology. U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Jared Polis have recently introduced student-privacy legislation backed by the White House, but the proposed bill focuses on ensuring that vendors don't misuse student data, without reaching the broader challenge of how to promise privacy for data shared in public. Our increasing capacity to monitor and analyze activities both online and off- to address real problems and to deter threats-can be beneficial. But it is clear that we don't yet know how to strike the right balance between monitoring and tracking-while allowing individuals to vent, blow off steam, and otherwise freely express themselves online without feeling surveilled. n Chris Whetzel for Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 20, 2015

Education Week - May 20, 2015
Gifted Programs Miss Disadvantaged Students
Army of Scorers Tackles Common-Core Tests
Groups Aim to Smooth Student-Police Relations
U.S. Senate Proposal Puts Spotlight On ‘Open Educational Resources’
Civil Rights Data Detail Increase In Complaints
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Accountability Measures for Traits Like ‘Grit’ Questioned
Long-Term Gains Seen for Kids Who Move Out of Poverty
Blogs of the Week
Selective Public Schools Struggle to Diversify Enrollments
Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down
Student-Data Use a Key Issue In Debates Over Privacy Bills
Blogs of the Week
Why Not Practice What We Preached?
Education Has to Be a ‘Human Business’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy
Is the Public Ever Really Private?

Education Week - May 20, 2015