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Peeved And Churlish by Michael Steven Smith

There is a gun massacre of at least four people every other day in this country. Some 60,000 people have been killed by guns this year alone. We just don’t hear about it unless it’s spectacular, like the last church mass murders or the Las Vegas ones two weeks before.

The politicians, mostly bought off by the gun lobby, offer “thoughts and prayers“. They lower the flag to half mast and move on. Some even give advice that people should bring guns to church. In Texas, an open carry state, students are allowed to bring guns to class. Imagine teaching in a situation like that or preaching for that matter.

The American people are educated – falsely. The Second Amendment ensures that everyone can own guns, even machine guns like the automatic rifles that were used in the last two massacres. Like people need an automatic rifle to go squirrel hunting. People around the world think Americans are crazy to allow this.

There are thousands who placed orders so far this year. In Scotland there were none. Why? Because the Scotland police do not carry guns. And in Scotland, people don’t use automatic rifles to go grouse hunting. My advice, either change the laws and change your minds or move to Scotland.

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Google Out of Classroom by Heidi Boghosian

Elementary and secondary schools should not be market places for big business to groom young customers. But in the last five years schools are becoming just that—profit and marketing centers—and it’s time for parents and educators to come to their senses.

The technology colossus Google is providing low-cost Chrome laptops to schools across the nation, along with free apps for students and teachers. All total, more than half of the country’s primary and secondary schools students—that’s over 30 million kids—use Good education apps, including Gmail and Docs.  The very affordable Google laptops comprise more than half of ALL mobile devices sent to schools.

Google has crafted a new sales technique to place their products in the classroom. It’s wholly inappropriate. It enlists educators and school administrators to promote Google’s laptops and apps to other schools, effectively turning those entrusted with our children’s education into efficient salespersons. That’s a predatory practice that amounts to trafficking precious human resources. It’s all the more insidious because teachers are expected to provide a moral compass, not a ticket to commercial servitude.

Google profits more than we know, quite literally. Their practices are opaque. Their profits aren’t from the actual devices, but rather from turning students, children, into loyal customers, likely for life.  And in turn, Google reaps one of the hottest commodities on the market now—our own personal data. With this data, –our birth dates, email addresses, likes and dislikes—Google and other companies that it allows to access the data, or outright sell it, advertisers are custom-tailoring the increasingly sophisticated, and insidious, marketing gimmicks that pervade every waking minute of our lives, from the moment we turn on a computer or tech device in the morning until we turn it off at night.

When students move their school files and emails to a personal Google account, they fall prey Google’s privacy policy. The goal is to hook kids in at an early age, under the premise that if you earn their loyalty at a young age you’ll be a happy follower your entire life.

After Google began pitching to schools a few years ago, they brought a motivational message: Google’s sales persons told teachers they would actually improve students’ college and career prospects with their online tools. They brazenly bypassed school administrators and went straight to the teachers touting low-cost and easy to use services. The tech giant even set up online communities called Google Educator Groups, where teachers can exchange ideas for using the technology.

Because there is no transparency in what personal information Google collects from children, and how it is used, school administrators and the public can never know what it is used for, and how it might hurt a child in the future. Google has refused to provide the details of what it aggregates, stores and shares with marketers.

We also know that targeted advertisements and social media messages have assumed too much leverage in our society, dissuading people from thinking for themselves. In children, it’s far worse as they go to school to learn critical thinking.

Educators and parents need to wake up before Google takes over the entire American educational landscape. We don’t need more consumers, we need more thinkers and doers!

Thanks to Natasha Singer of the NY Times for her in-depth article of May 13, “How Google Took Over the Classroom”

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