Admonished – Muppet Masters Profiting From Pulling Children’s Strings

Just when you thought the evil overlords couldn’t get any more sinister, predatory EdTech decided to up the stakes. The race is on to misappropriate poor, refugee children’s imaginations with digital characters to garner massive profits for corporations later down the road. By weaponising the world-famous, ever-lovable Sesame Street muppets and converting them into animated digital images, the plan is to seduce children into giving up their data to line the pockets of venture capitalists.

Sesame Street is an iconic brand that embodies family fun, humour, acceptance, and humanity. Everyone has a special place in their heart for those furry little muppets. So, when the MacArthur Foundation announced they were giving Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee $100 million to educate young children from displaced Syrian families and help them deal with “toxic stress,” most people were thrilled. While the optics were polished and positioned as ‘feel good’, these muppets are most definitely not the type of “friends” Syrian refugee children need. How will Sesame Workshop and the IRC spend the MacArthur award money? Much of it will be spent on educational technology:

  • Sesame-branded educational content delivered on televisions, phones, and digital platforms.
  • Home visits reinforced by digital content and parenting resources provided via mobile devices.
  • Child development centres equipped with prerecorded video clips, projectors & activity sheets

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

– Mark Twain

Decontextualised Interventions

This approach exactly reflects concerns raised by an April 2017 report published by Education International on the education of (already traumatised) Syrian refugee children. The report found that many donors were providing “decontextualised interventions” that focused too much on technology. A follow-up story by Anya Kamenetz noted that such an approach was highly problematic in settings with limited access to electricity. Ed-tech is not what the schools and teachers needed or wanted, but for every one donor offering to provide a soccer ball, there were ten who wanted to provide tablets and online learning systems. It is rare for funds to be provided for basic necessities like teacher’s salaries, books, instructional materials, or even bathrooms.

Instead, toxic NGOs and predatory entities like the World Bank and UNESCO have been diverted to pushing digital technology solutions to deliver educational services to refugee children and families. Financial interests claim digital platforms are a cost-effective way to supplement teachers, but that simply does not stack up. Instead, children are being subjected to dehumanising device-based instruction of the type promoted by Bridge International Academies. Such an approach also completely disregards growing concerns about the health and mental health risks associated with screen time and children.

“The earlier we introduce screens the more it affects the child’s brain development and the more likely they will have trouble managing their addiction to screens and technology later in life.”

– Dr. Laura Markham

Fake Philanthopists Coming For Our Kids

Few people are aware of the extent to which Sesame Workshop has embraced educational technology. They created the Joan Ganz Cooney Lab more than a decade ago to promote digital learning for young children. These efforts are heavily supported by tech companies including Intel, Microsoft, Motorola and Cisco. The Gates Foundation (red flag!) is involved as is the Bezos Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and social impact bond underwriters like the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. In 2016 Sesame Workshop used the proceeds from its sale of Sprout to launch Sesame Ventures with the Collaborative Fund and Reach Capital. They created two venture capital funds that provide technical support and funding to early-stage ed-tech startups aimed at both individual consumers and school districts. Current president of Sesame Workshop, Jeffrey Dunn, said in an interview that a typical venture-capital portfolio aims to earn three to five times a return on investment. Dunn notes that Sesame Ventures is also an extension of Sesame Workshop’s past digital and commercial ventures, in which he was also involved.

That same year Sesame Workshop also partnered with IBM (red flag!) to develop branded artificial intelligence apps for literacy and social-emotional learning. They use the Watson AI platform to provide “personalised” learning content based on the data they mine from children’s online interactions. The apps were piloted in Gwinett County schools in the state of Georgia. Now, with the MacArthur award, Sesame Workshop and IBM have access to an additional 1.5 million children to refine their digital education “solutions” and feed the AI beast.

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer, deserves to be.”

– David Thornburg

Manipulation of Developing Minds for Money

More data will be uploaded to devices during home visits and in informal learning settings. We, humanity, would like to know exactly who will have access to this data? Could it be used to profile children and families? Surely there will be some who will be hesitant to submit their children for social-emotional screening by US-affiliated organisations. However, people in crisis have very limited recourse. What happens if they refuse to participate? These are important questions to ask, especially given IBM’s history of business dealings with authoritarian regimes. Remember Thomas Watson’s medal for service to the Third Reich, Hollerith cards and the holocaust?

It is important to note that another partner in this project is the Behavioural Insights Team. BIT. Yep, the nudge unit is a social purpose company jointly owned by the UK government (the developer of social impact bonds) and Nesta. The company uses behavioural science and digital platforms to “address social problems” by encouraging people to make “better choices” that make public service delivery more “cost-effective.” Given their highly unethical behaviour during the scamdemic, none of these cult-owned manipulators should be anywhere near impressionable children – ever. Additionally, the IRC is a member of ideas42 based in the United States. They, too are an organisation that aims to use behavioural science to create scalable solutions for “social impact.(red flag!)

“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”

― Peter Hitchens

EdTech & FinTech - Sick and Twisted Bedfellows

The device-based education approach Sesame Workshop and the IRC have proposed is about extracting profit and generating data for impact investment and behaviour modification. When “brought to scale,” the digital services will bleed money from world funds earmarked for refugees. And, despicably, they are using beloved muppets as a smokescreen. Their talk of helping children work through trauma, digitally, is completely disingenuous. If the International Rescue Committee truly cared about the mental health of these children, they could put the $100 million into humane treatment solutions based in human relationships because human beings heal in community.

The 100 and Change award aligns closely with MacArthur’s digital media and learning and impact investment activities. Many of members of the IRC board and overseers are involved in global finance and US foreign policy. Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan, the Rockefeller Foundation (too many red flags to count here!), and numerous venture capital groups are represented. While the MacArthur competition purportedly aimed to “solve” a critical world problem, its primary function was to promote the profit-taking social impact investment agenda, which has been advanced by the Rockefeller Foundation over the past decade. MacArthur is both a member and a funder of their Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). The non-winning proposals were entered into a database to be kept as a “Solutions Bank,” of potential future investments. It was an 18-month exercise that vastly expanded infrastructure for the impact investment sector. Tim Scott wrote an excellent piece detailing how fake philanthropists seed impact investment markets.

“The mind that is open for questions is open for dissent. In the totalitarian regime the doubting, inquisitive, and imaginative mind has to be suppressed. The totalitarian slave is only allowed to memorize, to salivate when the bell rings.”

― Joost A.M. Meerloo

Outsourcing Education to the Beast System

All over the world, governments are now adopting policies that employ “innovative finance” to outsource education and other critical public services to private profit-extracting partnerships. These public-private partnerships are often supported by “philanthropic” partners who are now free to make “mission related” for-profit investments. (conflict of interest much?) Enormous and expensive data collection is linked to their outcomes-based contracts.

Sesame Workshop’s program with Syrian refugees is an example of how foundations are paving the way for education to be reinvented as an exercise in data-driven, behaviour modification – digitising indoctrination. Over the course of this five-year project, traumatised families will be used to refine scaleable online education and behavioural treatment models that generate data and profit for private interests. These efforts will be subsidised by foundations and made possible with assistance from complicit non-profit actors. The products developed from the digital labour of these children will be deployed not only in future “humanitarian” efforts, but also among the growing ranks of children living in poverty in the United States and other countries. The $100 million was clearly not a charitable award; it was a business investment!

“You are blessed and cursed with consciousness, my child, in a society that has done everything imaginable to remove your kind from its gene pool.”

― Sol Luckman

The Monster at The End of This Book

These muppets are no longer our friends and their message may harm our children in more ways than one. Their strings are being pulled by predatory impact investors and slimy Silicon Valley executives. We are calling out the MacArthur Foundation. They should be ashamed of their treatment of these children and for using plush characters to provide cover for a nefarious data mining agenda. In this era of US imperialism and late-stage capitalism, it seems the monster at the end of this book is in fact the non-profit that opens a door and allows venture capitalists to harm 1.5 million vulnerable children. We call on Sesame Workshop to reconsider its direction and to cut ties to education technology. Here’s an idea: use MacArthur’s $100 million to provide the non-digital human services Syria’s refugee children so desperately need. We, humanity, believe that’s what the late, great Jim Henson would have wanted.

For there to be a future worth living on this planet, we must not allow greedy predators to sacrifice our children on the altar of technological surveillance and venture capital. For years, hedge funders have been building infrastructure for a futures market in human capital, a global poverty-mining enterprise. Increased calls for transforming the “social” sector to fit the requirements of this technologised age ring out from Darth Schwab and his minions at the World Economic Forum. This whitepaper outlines a planned three-year process to re-align the social sector, “Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Preparation and Response.” Innovation, technology deployment, and adoption of an “evidence-based” approach to public services, including pre-k and digital learning, are being pitched as an answer to our current social ills. Money has been poured into branding digital enslavement as a fiscally prudent, even progressive option. However, when you dig deeper; things are certainly not as they appear.

“A woman with a newborn baby is too starry-eyed to see a wealthy man’s cannon fodder or a cheap source of slave labour.”

― Milton William Cooper

The Hunger Games for Infants

Children of the poor, black, brown and indigenous children, are being set up for ongoing data harvest: cognitive, non-cognitive, and health metrics. Far from the cozy, nurturing atmosphere most parents and educators want for children (particularly children in crisis or who have experienced trauma) this new pre-k model channels industrial agriculture. Children’s developing brains are set to be managed like hydroponic lettuce heads. They will be given a precision mix of digital toxic waste from apps touting stamps of “efficacy” from some impact-funded outfit like Common Sense Media. An oppressed workforce compelled to chart the neural “growth” of toddlers whose human capital will eventually be offered up via e-portfolios to global markets, having been tracked (on Blockchain) so that “damaged” product can be traced to the source for proper accounting. It really is a bizarre world at our doorstep, a mash-up of Ready Player One and The Hunger Games for infants.

We must find new ways to care for one another in the spirit of mutual aid. Submitting to data surveillance cannot be a pre-condition for accessing help or education. Care must not constitute an “investment” opportunity for global monopoly capital. The idea of “human bonds” must be categorically denounced. Conscious leaders everywhere know that the time has come for us to chart a new way forward. We refuse to allow people’s futures to become debt instruments traded on global markets. We recognise enslavement and we wholeheartedly reject it, even when it comes cloaked in progressive branding. 

“A conscious human is driven by their conscience, not popular opinion.”

― Suzy Kassem

Authentic and Aligned

Do not fall for the “pay for success,” “what works,” open-data, public private partnership pitches that will soon come your way. We must deny elite financiers their plan to foreclose on the commons. We must prevent them from managing those who most need support as holdings in their vast and corrupt social investment portfolios. Once given the right lens, it is clear to see that outcomes-based contracting of government social services and education is nothing more than a perverse system of control that devalues human life and inflicts harm on historically oppressed communities. Conscious leaders are stepping up to change the way in which we create and interact. We are redefining the value of humanity and human life for the highest good of all concerned. We stand for nature and all of life and we are protecting children and the poor from the greedy Technocrats. This is the work.

The world needs you to be resilient during this time of massive change. Knowing how to stay deeply connected with yourself helps you create in a nexus of alignment and security. Over the coming months there will be zero tolerance for compromise. Knowing how to be clear and aligned is crucial for us to be able to restructure our world and truly build what we feel is possible in our heart’s, but are maybe struggling to imagine with our minds. Here’s the deal: Your life and the people you love need you to be powerful. You can’t create what you want in your life if you’re settling, compromising and not stepping into your power. Being “powerful” isn’t what you may have been raised or conditioned to believe. Being powerful means you are deeply aligned with your authentic self. You know what you want and you know how to create it. You don’t settle for less. You don’t waste time and energy on things you don’t want. You make agreements with yourself and others that reflect your value and your self-worth.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

― Brene Brown

True Power

Phoenix leaders know that power is the ability to consciously and deliberately craft a consistent faith-based energy that calls into your life the support you need to stretch yourself beyond what you can simply create on your own. Power – true Power – requires that you trust Life unwaveringly, and be willing to take risks and get uncomfortable as you grow and serve an evolving world. You can only lift the vibration of others to the level of your own vibration. You can only empower others to the degree to which you are empowered. If you’re not standing in your power, you run the risk of being in relationships that are ruled by unconscious power plays, manipulations and even unhealthy agreements. Knowing who you are – the true story of who you are – activates your true personal power. This is how we win. Together we rise

“Life is meant to be fun, and joyous, and fulfilling. May each of yours be that – having each of you as a child of mine has certainly been one of the good things in my life. Know that I’ve always loved each of you with an eternal, bottomless love. A love that has nothing to do with each other, for I feel my love for each of you is total and all-encompassing. Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.”

― Jim Henson


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Suzanne Cunningham

(HBIC) Creative Director
Pure Element 5