A growing number of legislators, lobbyists, and investors are either unaware or are unconcerned with basic research ethics, and they are signing your children up to be used as guinea pigs.
Across the country, states are adopting corporate-driven policies to experiment with “competency-based” and “personalized learning,” even though there is no sound research proving that these are effective educational models.
In Florida, where a bill to implement competency-based pilot programs recently passed, the Tampa Bay Times explained: “Several [legislators] said they support the program, because they want to see first whether it works.”
Mark Zuckerberg, who has recently poured millions into CBE/personalized experiments, told EdWeek: “We don’t know for certain that it’s going to work. All we can really hope to do is provide an initial boost and try to show that this could work as a model.”
Thomas Rooney, superintendent of Lindsay Unified School District, admitted in this article: “I have received three requests over the past week asking for evidence of success from competency education models. The truth of the matter is that we are not swimming in proof points.”
Here in Maine, our state is part of the Council for Chief State School Officer’s “Innovation Lab Network,” which hopes to “generate proof points” that will help bring competency (proficiency) based learning “to scale.”
The Gates Foundation calls competency-based learning a “nascent” and “still emerging” field, and has vowed to invest in its development. (Most competency-based and personalized learning experiments are now at least partially funded by the Gates Foundation.)
When researchers in university settings conduct studies involving “human subjects,” there are two categories of people that always get extra special protection: pregnant women and children. Even if the research involves minimal to no risk to the child (a survey, for example), an Institutional Review Board must certify that the investigators meet certain criteria, including obtaining permission from children’s parents or guardians.
Competency-based and personalized learning experiments, which typically rely heavily on digital and online learning, involve a number of potential risks – including those that are health-related (impact on vision, over-exposure to wifi radiation), academic, and social/emotional (what happens when students spend less time with teachers and more time with devices?).
And yet most parents are utterly unaware of these risks, and none of have been asked to give informed consent before their districts are given over to experimental restructuring. When it comes to public school policy – especially when there are billions of dollars on the line – decision-makers seem to have decided that research ethics need not apply.
Are your legislators signing your children up to be guinea pigs?
Find out before it’s too late.