a letter into the ether, regarding public policies of privacy beyond my control.

I think my last day to dither about my own personal child’s ipad dilemma is nigh.

To date I have not pulled the trigger on the agreement that will give her a special LAUSD-Apple password.

The privacy agreements were daunting and infuriating; there were at least seven of them, one clocking in at 250 pages?  325?  I can’t remember that specifically either.  Something prohibitively vast.  Even if I had a clue what I was looking at I couldn’t.

But I haven’t.  None.

I asked a trusted friend, former LAUSD parent and computer scientist his opinion.  He did actually read the whole schmear, or at least skimmed relevant parts.  His answer?  “I’m glad I don’t have kids in LAUSD any longer”.  Sound like someone else we know here?

I think the bottom line is that privacy-concerns are not likely most localized to Apple.  They are considerably more careful, and kid-friendly than, say, Google.

Privacy-wise I believe the most concern relates to the 2011 federal change of FERPA rules enabling any school district to contract children’s testing and demographic data to private concerns without notification or permission of the family.  Thus one misstep and the data is gone; those in a position to misstep are unregulated and unknown.  Assurances of the presence of strong monetary or other prohibitions on the conduct of contractors provides zero comfort as the brunt of the burden of misbehaviour will be borne, ultimately, by the children themselves.  Our children.  My child.  The one who I am tasked with keeping safe.

But in all honesty, there is no functional recourse to resist.  The buzz is cacophanous in school amongst the children.  Even there is a cloud of negative buzzing, but there is no outlet for it.  There is no policy in place for opting out, there is no route for objecting.  Among parents the feeling is “I don’t like it, but what can I do.  That horse is loooong gone from this barn”.  Refusing to take delivery on an ipad feels not only ludditish, but refractory toward one’s child’s education.  Because although there is no educational software available on the ipads, and although they will not replace textbooks, yet the feeling is that these are educational tools that to deny your child, would deny your commitment to their education.

It is like explaining when you stopped beating your mother; a complex question fallacy.  I think.

Never mind that the sole purpose of these devices is to test a test devised to revamp public education as we know it.  Eventually the devices will be used to generate metrics for this revision.  Metrics that will serve to further drive the demise of free, democratic, open, public public education.  A principle my latter day sojourn as Public School Parent has taught me to value deeply.

And so, I am faced today with the dilemma of following lock-step with the plan that will deconstruct a pillar of our democracy.

Elsewhere I know there is “resistance” to the Common Core, parents opting their children out of the test itself.  But this decision is a little more pernicious, a little more tricky.  It is in obeisance to the tools of the test that I am being forced to pledge allegiance, not the tests themselves.  Accepting the tools is like opening the gates to the Trojan Horse.  But it is one thing to refuse admittance to a hoard of roving mercenaries, quite another to the gift only suspected as being theirs.

When I polled sympathetic parents as to their feeling about refusal, opting out, resistance, their response was universal:  The Children; think about the children:   you will hurt your child.

And so in installing a derivative setup, objection is sidelined because no one can refuse the option of educational advantage.  In taking one small step for pedagogy itself, we are moving collectively to pull down the institution of its essence.

It is true:  resistance feels futile.  The power of monopolistic, neoliberal market forces is awesome in its eclipsing power.  What can one parent do?

It must be said that my child is terrified of responsibility for a device of such worth, in such a mobile way.  Assurances that loss of the device will not be hers to repay, hold little truth and assuage just as little of the anxiety.

And how could they?  At some point we will all find the upper limit on personal vs. district liability.  The district cannot pay for device replacements indefinitely.  The district cannot afford anything less than complete 1:1 availability and compliance either.  This is a clash being set up of titanic proportions, a slow-mo disaster laid bare before us.  For how can the general fund be diverted indefinitely toward technology?  We have seen how decrepit the district’s physical structure remains already.  In diverting bond money for technology we inhibit directly, available funds for repairs.  We will inhibit directly available funds for teachers and pensions soon enough.  Already the librarians have been released, casualties of this phantasmagoria of a new educational world order.  And the nearly-vested-pensioners are next in line for redundancy, filling up the teacher jails with ever-increasing, age-disproportionate numbers.

It is hard to see a stop to this juggernaut, and harder still to see how my token refusal to accept liability for this stratagem will result in anything but harm to my own.

It is not pleasant to be squashed under the weight of plutocrats and imperialists from the realm of the 1%.  I was raised to believe there was power in rank numbers, that governmental checks and balances and democratic empowerment would hold economic greed at bay.

But Hasbro knows well the allure of having it all, gathering speed in the going, forcing opponents into bankruptcy.  The game of Monopoly remains iconic if not the best-ever.  The money may be “funny” but the principle of sweeping the board is not.

Here I ponder the usurpation of the public sector devoted to our youth, by the private.  And my principles seem irrelevant.  Privacy concerns or no, my child comes of age in a time when the concept of privacy does not compute. Derivative, unintended consequences or no, my child belongs to a cohort that has been manipulated in service of private capital.  Scholarly devotion or no, my child participates in a culture that has forsaken independent thinking.

To refuse my child this technology will serve her not at all; to refuse this technology will shift neoliberal education theology not one iota.

I’m not quite ready to trumpet the herald that Public Education RIP.  I don’t think I can ever let it go until it is all gone.  But it is hard to see the way forward that would step in service to a different ideal.  My day-to-day is controlled by other forces and I must deliver my child of that which is being extracted from her now.