Putting The Fox In Charge Of The Hen House

Yesterday Breitbart reported on the latest attempt by Microsoft to end the plague of fake news. It’s a valiant effort.

The article reports:

Without consulting with its users, Microsoft has installed an establishment media browser extension, purportedly designed to rate the accuracy of news websites, as a default extension on mobile versions of its Edge browser. In practice, it creates a news blacklist by warning users away from sites including Breitbart News, The Drudge Report, and the Daily Mail.

Actually all three of those sources have a better track record than many of the news sources that Microsoft has labeled as reliable.

The article cites some examples:

The website of the conservative-leaning British newspaper The Daily Mail, which has the third-highest circulation in the U.K., is also given a “red” rating. Newsguard says the site “fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

WikiLeaks, which has never had to retract a story due to false or misleading information, is also given a “red” rating.

Among the websites given a “green” rating is BuzzFeed, which was recently humiliated for publishing alleged details about the ongoing Mueller investigation that were contradicted by the speial prosecutor himself. BuzzFeed did not retract the story, and even led with it on its frontpage … after Mueller contradicted it.

But in Newsguard’s view, BuzzFeed “regularly corrects or clarifies errors.”

Many of the websites that recently fed the fake news feeding frenzy against students of Covington Catholic high school in Kentucky, who were falsely accused of taunting a left-wing Native American agitator, are also given a “green” rating. These include CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. 

Also “green” — Media Matters, the Clintonite Democrat website that regularly publishes hit-jobs against conservative media publications and personalities.

Rolling Stone, the magazine infamous for publishing a hoax rape allegation against members of a University of Virginia fraternity in 2015 is also given a “green” rating. Newsguard says the outlet has “consistently published well-researched, factual information about contemporary American culture.”

Some left-wing sources are given “red” ratings by Newsguard. However, they tend to be on the anti-establishment side of Democratic politics: ShareBlue and the Daily Kos, for example, both have “red” ratings. Salon and the Huffington Post, however, do not.

Obviously, to anyone who actually pays attention to accuracy in the media, the best way to use this list is to regard those news sources marked in red as reliable and those news sources marked in green as fake news. The past histories of each group support that theory.

It’s Not About The Children–It’s About The Money

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you are probably aware that I am strongly opposed to Common Core. There are many reasons for this, and I need to review a few before I get to the current article regarding Common Core.

Reported here in November 2015:

Bill Gates himself has stated, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” 

Reported here in July 2014:

On the Microsoft Web site, a webpage dated April 22, 2014 entitled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” describes in considerable detail how schools using computer-based, Common Core-aligned tests will now need to spend a bunch of money — on Microsoft products.

…Microsoft additionally advises schools to upgrade “all units” “to a minimum of 1 GB of internal memory” and to make sure their screens and processors are up to snuff. (Wouldn’t you know it: in some cases, “Power Macs are not supported.”) Schools might also need to outlay tax dollars on Internet connections and hardware such as headphones.

The primary purpose of Common Core is not to educate our children–it’s to force schools to buy Microsoft technology. There are billions of dollars at stake here, which brings me to my current story. When schools originally began buying computer products, most schools bought (or were given) Apple products. The students trained on Apple products went on to buy Apple products as adult consumers. That lesson was not lost on Bill Gates at Microsoft.

On February 12, 2016, the New Boston Post reported:

A lawsuit that aims to prevent Massachusetts voters from weighing in on the controversial Common Core educational standards has backing from people connected to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major sponsor of Common Core.

Since 2010, the year the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to implement Common Core, through last year, the Gates Foundation donated $776,431 to the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. The Alliance, a strong supporter of Common Core, is currently coordinating the lawsuit, filed last month, to block a citizen initiative that would allow Massachusetts voters in November to decide whether the state continues to use the federally approved Common Core standards or revert to its own pre-Common Core standards.

In 2007, prior to the implementation of Common Core, Massachusetts was the highest-achieving state in the country.  Opponents of Common Core, an unusually bi-partisan group of parents, teachers, education specialists, conservative activists, and anti-testing activists, say that after the state adopted the federally backed standards in 2010, Massachusetts achievement levels started to decline.

End Common Core Massachusetts, the citizens group behind the ballot question, earlier this year garnered enough signatures to advance the measure.  But on Jan. 22, ten plaintiffs sued to stop the question from reaching the voters. Plaintiffs include William Walczak who is a director of the Alliance, and Jack Dill, who is on its advisory council.

If Common Core was about improving education, why have the achievement levels in Massachusetts schools started to decline since Common Core was implemented? Common Core is a scam put over on parents and teachers that does nothing to improve the education of our children. I does, however, improve the bottom line profits of Microsoft Corporation. Parents need to begin to work to remove it. I am hoping Massachusetts will be successful with its ballot question, but in other places, school boards need to be pressured to take action against something that is detrimental to our children’s education. If it really was about the children, would any school administrators be supporting something that lowers achievement rather than raises it?

There Is A Good Alternative To Common Core

Common Core has come under fire for many reasons. It is an untested academic standards program the involves data mining activities that make the NSA look like amateurs. The program claims it is not curricula, but a close examinations shows that it controls curricula by controlling a test program that has put undue stress on our schoolchildren. There are also a number of child development specialists who have stated that much of the material included in Common Core is inappropriate for the age groups receiving the instruction.

There is a better way to educate our children than Common Core. The North Carolina Education Plan has been developed in North Carolina as an alternative to Common Core. The developers of the North Carolina Education Plan (NCEP) recently met with Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina President, Judy Kidd and Steve Oreskovic in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The goal of the meeting was to form an alliance to move the NCEP forward in North Carolina. One of the major items on the agenda in moving NCEP forward is to end the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA). This aspect of Common Core forces schools to collect information on children, including photographs and biometric data. It is the first link in the K through work force chain that is envisioned for this and future generations.

These are some of the problems with the KEA: 1) Teachers must evaluate, profile students and being an electronic portfolio on each five year old entering the system. This profile contains clinical areas such as Emotional & Social Development. These areas are not only clinical in nature, but are very subjective. 2) Data collection cannot be secured. Using a “unique identifier” (UID) does not guarantee the child’s name cannot be hacked. If pictures and videos are used to determine performance level, identification of any child is easily obtainable. The data collection goes outside of the schoolhouse and follows the child for five years into the workforce. 3) Where is the data going to be stored? What data will be part of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and Common Education Data Analysis & Reporting System (CEDARS)? Where does the data go? Raleigh, Washington? It is national in scope. 4) Do parents know this data is being collected for the child until adulthood?

There are other issues with Common Core, such as unfunded mandates in the form of Microsoft computer update and software licensing requirements [understandable when you consider that Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) is one of the major financial backers of Common Core]. Common Core is expensive compared to the NCEP.  Despite its claims, Common Core does not embrace the concept of Critical Thinking in its curricula. It is also untested.

The North Carolina Education Plan has been presented to the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission. They are in the process of studying the NCEP and other options as they prepare to make their recommendations to the state. Hopefully North Carolina will be the first state to adopt its own home-grown program for providing a quality education for the students in the state.

Some Charity Has A Purpose

Today’s Daily Caller posted a story about the relationship between Bill Gates and Common Core. Common Core is the federal takeover of education heavily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates. The Foundation has spent over $200 million in an effort to push the Common Core Standards Initiative in the last couple years.

The article explains one possible motive for the expenditure:

On the Microsoft Web site, a webpage dated April 22, 2014 entitled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” describes in considerable detail how schools using computer-based, Common Core-aligned tests will now need to spend a bunch of money — on Microsoft products.

“Ready or not,” Microsoft warns, “testing for the State Standards is about to become a reality for schools in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and four US territories. That means a switch to online testing beginning the spring of 2015.”

Later on comes the sales pitch:

For many schools, time is running out. In a report issued by Smarter Balanced in 2012, it found that 56.1 percent of K–12 schools reporting were still running on aging Windows XP, which had an end of service (EOS) date of April 8, 2014. In the face of this looming cutoff of support, it’s recommended by IT professionals to migrate to the new Windows as soon as possible.

Microsoft additionally advises schools to upgrade “all units” “to a minimum of 1 GB of internal memory” and to make sure their screens and processors are up to snuff. (Wouldn’t you know it: in some cases, “Power Macs are not supported.”) Schools might also need to outlay tax dollars on Internet connections and hardware such as headphones.

Notice that “Power Macs are not supported.” If the government were not involved in this, they would be charging Microsoft with monopoly. As usual, if you want to know what Common Core is about, follow the money.

The Mystery Of The Missing Emails Continues

Reason.com reported yesterday that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had a contract with Sonasoft, whose trademark states, “Email Archiving Done Right.”  The contract began in 2005.

The article reports:

The extent and exact details of the service that Sonasoft provided to the IRS aren’t clear. But the company advertises its email archiving solution as “ideal for small and medium businesses, government agencies, school districts, nonprofit organizations using Microsoft’s Exchange Server.” And a document posted on its website describing its services says that its system “archives all email content and so reduces the risk of non-compliance with legal, regulatory and other obligations to preserve critical business content.”

Stay tuned.