Gambling With Our Futures: Big Data, Global Finance and Digital Life

Through predatory public-private partnerships, global financiers are in the process of digitizing not only our education system, but many other aspects of public service delivery. This 10-minute video provides an overview of “Pay For Success” and social impact bonds, detailing how their operations hinge on intrusive and oppressive collection of data from our classrooms, homes, jails, and clinics.

By defining “success” in narrow terms suited to outcomes-based contracting, powerful investors will control how public services are delivered. Securitization of debt associated with program operations will turn our lives, including those of our children, into fodder for financial speculation. YouTube originally categorized this video as a comedy; perhaps based on the whimsical nature of the collages. After watching it, however, I’m confident you’ll see it’s truly a horror show. A slide share version of the video can be viewed here and a PDF of the script is available here.

I wish to express my deep appreciation to all who offered support and input on the creation of this piece, especially Dr. Tim Scott whose groundbreaking research is foundational to understanding this topic (read more here, here and here) and Mary Porter for her valuable editorial insights. The artwork was prepared with scissors and construction paper at my kitchen table with the goal of making this critical information accessible to a wider audience. My hope is that it will pique your interest and spur you to explore the linked resources that follow.

Additional Resources

Impact Investing and Venture Philanthropy’s Role in Sowing the Seeds of Financial Opportunity, Tim Scott, Truthout, Link

Social Impact Bonds: The Titans of Finance as the Altruistic Merchants of Schools and the Common Good, Tim Scott, Dissident Voice, Link

Education Technology, Surveillance and America’s Authoritarian Democracy, Tim Scott, Dissident Voice, Link

Race, Finance and the Afterlife of Slavery, A talk given at the Whitney Museum of America Art by Dr. Justin Leroy, Link and his paper Bonded Life Download

Global Finance Needs Our Schools to Fail, Wrench in the Gears, Link

What You Should Know About “Pay For Success” As Testing Season Approaches, Wrench in the Gears, Link

Smart Cities and Social Impact Bonds: Public Education’s Hostile Takeover Part II, Wrench in the Gears, Link

Who are the Players in Pay for Success / Social Impact Bonds?, Wrenches of Resistance, Link

Is Wall Street About to Take Over Public Education Once and For All?, Emily Talmage, Save Maine Schools, Link

The Real Reason Your Child Is Being Psychologically Profiled At School, Emily Talmage, Save Maine Schools, Link

Wall Street Zombies, Coming Soon to a Pre-K Near You, Emily Talmage, Save Maine Schools, Link

Social Impact Bonds, A Primer, Deb Mayer, Parents Across America, Link

Pay for Success-Also Known as Social Impact Bonds, Senator Orrin Hatch and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Carolyn Leith, Seattle Education, Link

Pay for Success and the McCleary Crisis: Did the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Help Position Social Impact Bonds As A Last Resort Funding Option For Our Public Schools?, Carolyn Leith, Seattle Education, Link

The Proposed NSA-Like National Database for Student Data: Moneyball for Kids, Cheri Kiesecker, Missouri Education Watchdog, Link

Congress Suspending Rules to Rush Through Bill For National Citizen Data System: HR 4174, Cheri Kiesecker, Missouri Education Watchdog, Link! page of articles on Pay for Success Programs and Social Impact Bonds, curated by Roxana Marachi, EduResearcher, Link

7 thoughts on “Gambling With Our Futures: Big Data, Global Finance and Digital Life

  1. brackenkaren says:

    All I can say is, EXCELLENT!! What you discuss in this video is the real reason why HR4174/S2046 Evidence Based Policymaking legislation is being pushed through even against much protest. This is the database that will feed these programs. The lobbyists and investors have bought our legislators (Paul Ryan and Patty Murray and all members of Congress)

  2. brackenkaren says:

    There is one way to destroy this scheme. It will take parents to stand up and pull their kids out of the system. If enough parents see the danger and are willing to do what they need to do to protect their children and the future of our country we can shut them down. But this is the only way to fight back. Sorry there is no amount of begging or screaming that will stop the criminals running our government. It is time to STARVE THE BEAST.

  3. Deb Mayer says:

    The way impact investing is being instituted without knowledge or consent of the public is unconscionable. Thank you Alison for collaborating and using your many talents to pull this together to highlight for us this very real threat.

  4. Carmen DeCecco
    Carmen DeCecco says:

    Once again, I’m indebted to you for taking the time to put this out here for us. To save us. I know how much goes into blogging, assimilating the information, and then disseminating it so that a readership understands it in a way that hopefully will get shared, so that it’s not too ‘inside,’ as is often the case with industry-speak. You do an amazing job with your posts. I will do my part to share it on social media with readers and audiences that I know are capable of understanding it, even as they would rather stick their heads into the collective sandpits, and wish it all would just go away. No such luck, as long as I am one of their friends or followers!

  5. K Pendleton says:

    The amount of data I now have to collect on my students is insane! It all goes into Empower, an online infrastructure that houses all grades. There are four times as many “targets” for “learner responsibilities” than anything academic. It takes up half the report card. I am sure this data will eventually affect our students’ future employment.

  6. Gina abraham says:

    Basically the rich get richer by skimming public funds which currently are used for public healthcare, education and police/fire. I used to work for a clinic which asked seniors to give up their medicare for something like aetna hmo or united healthcare hmo. The clinic got all the money medicare would have given to the patients to the clinic (everyone over 65 is allotted about 10K a year) and the clinics job was to give such good care patients wouldn’t have to go to the hospital. The draw was medicare pays 80% and you pay 20%. With the switch they are told they pay nothing, then there was a free eye exam or gym membership that was offered. They had these beautiful brochures for the patients. They didn’t want the sick patients, they wanted healthy ones. These clinics make a lot of money by denying all the cat scans and MRIs, deny the specialist. It would take forever to get approval for anything. The HMOs have few specialists so lines were long. They left the seniors with worse healthcare, their public funds went to the clinic owners and the private insurance carriers who made out like bandits. Is that what would happen here? Right now each kid in Chicago gets about 15K/year. If these “investors” get this money, they will spend a lot less and give worse service. Is this kinda how its going to work?

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