Archive for  March 22nd 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa — “Absolutely not. I don’t think it had anything to do with how Trump was elected,” said Ann Robinson of West Des Moines. “I think he got elected because people voted for him. I mean, there was information coming in from the media on all sources, so I feel like Facebook played no more important role than the newspapers, the news stories.”

Robinson believes Facebook and the information it provided to Cambridge Analytica did not play a role in getting Donald Trump elected, but Justin Wise of Think Digital, disagrees.

“The way that they used the information was a textbook example of how to use the information that`s available to you, to me, to any business out there that would want to advertise on Facebook,” said Wise. “We all have access to that, those tools. We can leverage and acquire data. So, if you have an email list as a business, let’s say. You can feed that email list into Facebook, and say hey Facebook, go find the accounts that are attached to these email addresses and then show them this ad. On a small scale, that’s what Cambridge Analytica did. And that same ability is there for you, it’s there for me. It’s there for any business out there.”

In June of 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.

“The mechanics of it, how they did it, what they did with the information was brilliant,” said Wise. “It was a great strategy and it totally worked. The campaign that hired Cambridge Analytica got their candidate in the White House.”

Cambridge Analytica specializes in what`s called ‘psychographic’ profiling, which means they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content. But that process has caused controversy and Facebook has drawn criticism because of it. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has highlighted the lack of privacy protections in the U.S., and caused some who use Facebook to question just how clear the social media platform is with its users about its terms of service.

“For me personally, I try and lock it up, my profile, as much as I can,” said Danny Higgins. “Even debated just getting rid of it completely. But, I definitely don’t want my information shared unless I consent to it, you know, either through the social media or whatever it may be.”



DES MOINES, Iowa — Dr. David Smouse’s love for education helped build Iowa’s first school dedicated to educating children with disabilities in 1931.  Teachers like Debbie Eldred who first taught inside it’s walls in 1977 continue to bring that passion into today.  “Smouse is a special school and it needs to stay that way,” she said while fighting back tears.  For over eighty years, Smouse educated students other schools just could not.  Kay Graham spent a decade at Smouse and now substitute teaches.  “I worked with kids that have behavior disorders so they required not only a lot of time academically but social skills and to cope with anger and things that got them in trouble before they came to Smouse.”

Now Des Moines Public School District Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart says the need for educating students with disabilities inside Smouse Opportunity School is a fraction of what it once was.  “The number of students being served at those schools has continually and purposefully declined over time as we find better ways to serve our students in a comprehensive environment of the typical school.”

Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, intellectually disabled school children will move next door to Ruby Van Meter which already serves similar students.  Behavior disabled children will be moved back to their home school with some students still being served in a classroom at Smouse.  Dr. Ahart said, “It is somewhere around forty students. That is the population of students having a possible change in building that they would attend.”

Graham said the changes concern her because comprehensive schools are still sending children to Smouse.  “I had a student that I was asked to come in and work with one-on-one.  He only had been going to school two hours a day and when they came to Smouse they went all day long the first day.  He was behind academically and needed one-on-one.  His home school couldn’t handle it last year. Why is it going to be any different this next year?”

The district feels it will be much different thanks to staffing numbers increasing over the years at comprehensive schools.  “Because of upgrading of our staff in comprehensive schools, we are at the point where there’s only a small handful of students still needing those specialty services that we will continue providing at Smouse.  If you take fifteen to twenty students and place them where we have forty schools at the elementary level it is hard to imagine overwhelming will be the sentiment.”