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Reasoning Mind Math: reason to worry?

Saturday, October 15, 2016 11:43
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(Before It's News)

The non-profit Reasoning Mind offers “personalized” on-line math curriculum and a “genie” who is a child’s  best friend, and knows everything about them.  Reasoning Mind has given some parents reason to worry. What do you think?  Let’s take a look at Reasoning Mind.

The Genie:


The Math:

RM study.

The Money and Moscow

Non-profits must make public their tax returns (form 990).  Here are 990 returns available for Reasoning Mind. Looking at the 2014 return tells us a lot. For starters, Reasoning Mind is connected.


Connected to Russia:

pages 7 and 8 of 2014 form 990 tax return,  note the Russia Connections
Page 22 of RM 2014 return shows Moscow did the computer Programming and Testing of end product.  (remember GEF MAP and  Skolvovo

Reasoning Mind is Connected to Bill Gates, with this $300k grant for a math pilot  as seen in Gates Foundation 2011 990 form (hint: take a look for other interesting awardees)

Reasoning Mind is AGAIN connected to Bill Gates with this $700+ grant awarded in 2011  for alternative human capital models and Common Core aligned math pilot targeting minority children.
Cheri Kiesecker

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Total 2 comments
  • Hello – here is a response to the original article at Missouri Education Watch (

    Hi Cheri,

    I’m an authorized spokesperson for Reasoning Mind and recently found your article. I appreciate the concerns you expressed over student privacy, which we are absolutely committed to protecting, and I’ve provided more detail on our policies below (apologies that this information was difficult to find on our website—thank you for pointing this out!—we will be updating our privacy page soon so that these are more visible).

    In addition to more detail on our commitment to student privacy, I am also clearing up some misunderstandings from this article so that readers have a better understanding of Reasoning Mind’s work and mission.

    If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at, as I would be more than happy to discuss any aspect of our organization or even provide you with a tour of a Reasoning Mind classroom or demo of our programs.

    - Much of this article focuses on the Genie character, a relatively minor element of our elementary program that is intended to make math fun for students and build their confidence in the subject (as you probably know, many students are anxious about math and intimidated by the subject). Most “interactions” with the Genie come in the form of automatic animations, in which the Genie congratulates them on a job well done. When students do email the Genie (an ability that can be turned off by teachers), messages are fielded by adult educators employed by Reasoning Mind, who use a rubric to craft their responses (most of which are simply template responses); all individuals responding to Genie messages have undergone background checks, are only allowed to see a student’s name and no other identifiable information, and are not allowed to send or request personal information from or to students. Most messages from students are about math, or silly topics like asking the Genie’s favorite color. Messages are NOT included in any kind of profile on a student.

    - If one of Reasoning Mind’s employees who responds to Genie messages receives a message they find concerning (say, something about a student’s home life, as this article mentions), the student’s teacher and campus is immediately notified per our protocol and Texas state law (Texas Family Code 261.101).

    - Reasoning Mind takes COPPA compliance very seriously, and we are continually auditing our privacy policies. Reasoning Mind never knowingly requests, uses, or discloses personally identifiable information or private content as defined by COPPA from anyone under the age of 13 without parental consent. We’re working on updating our website to include information about our COPPA compliance now.

    - Reasoning Mind never sells access to student data or personal information, or shares student data or personal information in exchange for other goods or services. So in response to one of the article’s implied questions, no, we do not allow our Supporters or In-Kind Contributors access to children’s profiles or personal information.

    - The assertion in the first paragraph that the “Reasoning Mind math curriculum places a large emphasis on teaching Soviet-style morals, collectivism, and the importance of labor (Tudge, 1991)” is false. This is a misquote of a 2012 Harvey Mudd dissertation by Maia Valcarce which makes that claim about “Soviet education,” not Reasoning Mind. Reasoning Mind’s mathematical content and curriculum bears similarities to the Russian mathematical curriculum, but that content is mathematical in nature. Reasoning Mind does not teach “Soviet-style” or any other kind of morals; we teach mathematics.

    - Regarding the “Russia connection”: Russia does not promote or pay for Reasoning Mind. Reasoning Mind was founded by Alex, Julia, and George Khachatryan, a family who immigrated to the United States as political refugees from the former Soviet Union in 1990. (Julia’s grandfather, for instance, faced significant persecution under the Stalinist regime and was confined to a concentration camp for multiple years.) They are all now American citizens. Reasoning Mind has an office in Moscow where functions like programming, design, and some data analytics are carried out, but this office and these employees are not members of the Russian government. Readers can find more information about Reasoning Mind’s origin story at

    - The article implies we’re connected to the Clinton Foundation. We’re not; the site linked to——allows someone to donate to one of many charities and nonprofits, and is not affiliated with the Clinton Foundation. Both Reasoning Mind and the Clinton Foundation happen to be on that third-party list, but Reasoning Mind and the Clinton Foundation have no connections to each other.

    - The article mentions that Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance mentions Reasoning Mind as an example of a system that adapts to students “using inputs from physiological indicators and facial expressions.” This is another misquote; the image of the report below makes no mention of this. Reasoning Mind has never built a program that collects visual inputs of students. The program adapts to student needs based on the answers they give to math questions, not their physical demeanor or facial expressions.

    - Toward the end of the article, the question is asked whether parents, teachers, and friends should be replaced by an online avatar. We at Reasoning Mind believe they shouldn’t – in fact, one of our core beliefs is that no matter how effective our online curricula are, students won’t succeed without a well-prepared, high-quality teacher. This is why we put a heavy emphasis on teacher professional development, and empower teachers to use all the tools we provide in the way that works best for them to give all of their students a first-rate math education.

    Again, we appreciate the concern you have over student privacy, safety, and well-being. We share these concerns and hope the responses above address any misunderstandings that might have developed about our work. Reasoning Mind’s driving passion is to help ignite students’ interest in math and to build their logical-reasoning and critical-thinking skills through a strong math education that will help them be successful both in school and in life.

    We invite you to review our outcome results ( and to see an example of what a Reasoning Mind classroom looks like in practice here:

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