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Hi folks,

As a teacher, I've been resistant to bringing more educational technology into our classrooms (in the form of a 1:1 iPad program).  I have many reasons, from student distraction to the lack of quantitative research in how ed tech is supposed to improve student outcomes.  I also disagree with the "student-centered" or "discovery learning" approach as being more effective in teaching than other approaches.

These are issues upon which reasonable people can disagree, and the views folks have may change as research into the use and effectiveness of ed tech catches up with the initial waves of optimism.

However, there is a darker, political side to the story that, for the first time I have seen, was recently made explicit by the Hoover Institution.  Follow me below the squiggle-thing for more.

In an item by Dr. Terry Moe, a political scientist at Stanford and a fellow at the Hoover Institution entitled "Has Ed Reform Failed?" lays out the conservative wet dream for education.  This is an important article for teachers to read, for this is where the combination of "accountability", "choice", and "ed tech" all come together into a rather sinister effort to destroy the teachers' unions, destroy the teaching profession and institute a privatized, corporate model of education in the US.

Moe starts off with that old Reagan bullshit study, A Nation at Risk, which saw American education as failing and needing reform:

Our society and its educational institutions seem to have lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling, and of the high expectations and disciplined effort needed to attain them. This report, the result of 18 months of study, seeks to generate reform of our educational system in fundamental ways and to renew the Nation's commitment to schools and colleges of high quality throughout the length and breadth of our land.
Moe notes that all the efforts that have gone into educational reform since the 1980s have been weak tea, despite the money and effort put into them.  And who is at fault for this failure of "reform"?
The reasons for this failure can be as complex as we want to make them. But the fact is, in American education—and most areas of public policy, for that matter—there are simple fundamentals at work that go a long way toward explaining the obstacles to major institutional change. The most important is the power of vested interests. In the American public school system, the key vested interests are the teachers unions: the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and their state and local affiliates—which represent the system’s key employees and are by far the most powerful groups in the politics of education. Major reform is threatening to their vested interests in the existing system, and they have used their formidable power to repel and weaken the efforts of reformers to bring real change. This is not the whole story of the modern reform era, needless to say. But it is at the heart of it.
Evil Teachers and Their Unions!  Moe specifically points to collective bargaining rights of teachers at the local level, which he sees as perverting the natural order of efficient organization (i.e., the corporate incentivization, performance evaluation and firing/firing procedures.
The modern era’s two great education reform movements, for school accountability and for school choice, attempt to bring major changes to the traditional structure of the American education system. Accountability seeks to put the spotlight on teacher performance, provide rigorous evaluations, link pay to performance, and move low-performers out of the classroom—all of which, from the unions’ standpoint, are threatening departures from a traditional system in which performance was never seriously evaluated and all jobs were secure. School choice is highly threatening to the unions too. For when families are allowed to leave the regular public schools for new options—charter schools or (via vouchers or tax credits) private schools—the regular public schools lose money and jobs, and so do the incumbent teachers in those schools. And the unions lose members.
Moe lauds Race to the Top and the film Waiting for Superman as important indicators of the move to push for more school choice and create fewer union members.   No Child Left Behind is seen as the unions' greatest defeat, bringing us those wonderful standardized tests, but laments its evisceration in the implementation process.  Damned meddling teachers!

Yet, Conservative Hopes Remain Alive!  First, he points to how Tea Party conservatives in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Indiana, challenged those evil unions and pushed them back. Alas, Moe acknowledges that these gains may be short lived and not uniform around the nation.  But!  Many Democrats, spurred by funding from the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation, are turning into reformers!  Obama and Arne Duncan gave us Race to the Top, while there is a group calling itself Democrats for Education Reform, rooted in alumni of the Teach For Awhile program, continue to undermine the unions through their support of school choice and accountability.

But even more hope lies within the realm of educational technology.  Moe writes:

Already, online curricula can be customized to the learning styles and life situations of individual students: giving them instant feedback on how well they are doing, providing them with remedial work when they need it, allowing them to move at their own pace, and giving them access—wherever they live, whatever their race or background—to a vast range of courses their own schools don’t offer, and ultimately to the best the world can provide. By strategically substituting technology (which is cheap) for labor (which is expensive), moreover, schools can be far more cost-effective than they are now—which is crucial in a future of tight budgets.

Because technology stands to have enormous impacts on jobs and money, the teachers unions find it threatening. And throughout the 2000s, they have used their political power—in state legislatures, in the courts—to try to slow and stifle its advance. But they won’t succeed forever. Education technology is a tsunami that is only now beginning to swell, and it will hit the American public school system with full force over the next decade and those to follow. Long term, the teachers unions can’t stop it. It is much bigger and more powerful than they are.

The advance of technology—much like the advance of globalization—will then have dire consequences for established power. There will be a growing substitution of technology for labor, and thus a steep decline in the number of teachers (and union members) per student; a dispersion of the teaching labor force, which will no longer be so geographically concentrated in districts (because online teachers can be anywhere); and a proliferation of new online providers and choice options, attracting away students, money, and jobs. All of these developments will dramatically undermine the membership and financial resources of the teachers unions, and thus their political power. Increasingly, they will be unable to block, and the political gates will swing open—to yield a new era in American education.

Yes, folks, the future truly is bleak for those teachers' unions!  

And it may be, especially if unions, teachers, administrators and parents don't see the bigger picture for what is going on.  The Common Core Curriculum that the Chicago Teachers Union just voted down is one piece of a reformist agenda that is actually being pushed by Randi Weingarten, who should know better.  There are many politically progressive folks who have bought the tech innovation hook-line-and sinker.  34 Democrats sided with Republicansto pass the charter school bill yesterday in the House.  

Moe is an ass, but he's making a point that is often not brought into the mix when discussing the implementation of technology in the classroom.  I've heard many folks who see technology implementation as inevitable and buy into the 21st Century Skills movement, without understanding the political implications behind bringing tech into schools.  

As Neil Selwyn writes in Distrusting Educational Technology, ed tech is laden with neo-liberal and libertarian concepts, fostering individualism, consumerism and commodification of the individual and the educational space.  These efforts seek to prepare students for an entrance into the "New Economy" as laborers.  

"All these digitally based forms of capitalism are seen as having created an alternate set of economic demands....the work skills of the new economy are based around skills and dispositions relating to multitasking, autonomy, creativity, 'innovation', and networked and cooperative forms of working, as well as the malleability of working practices." (pg. 30).
Additionally, Selwyn writes:
Many forms of digital education can therefore be said to be built around a decreased obligation to others, an enhanced logic of competition, and a diminished sense of solidarity and togetherness.  As such, when learning through digital technologies there is often more incentive for individuals to be primarily self-concerned, 'rationally selfish', and motivated by the drive to better their own condition rather than being primarily concerned with the condition of others.  Thus...the primary locus of concern shifts from matters that affect us collectively to those that affect us differentially.  Under these conditions, then, there is arguably little 'added value' in pursuing any sustained form of genuine solidarity with others who are worse off. At best, taking public action or contributing to a common good becomes an act of personal expression and recognition or self-validation, rather than a basic public duty or civic expectation. (pg. 132, citations removed).
I have some hope, however, that the ed tech trend will fizzle out, because we have been here before:

Skinner's teaching machines from the 1950s were a response to what was seen (yet again) as a crisis in education.  Technology would save the day!  Interestingly, Hannah Arendt, the great philosopher who gave us the concept of the "banality of evil" wrote a short essay on this entitled"The Crisis of Education".  She found the emphasis on practical education for employment purposes to be against the actual purpose of education, which is to help student learn how to think in the adult world.  Arguing that Americans have a "pathos of the new", leading them not only to accept new techniques (she was pointing to "progressive" educational pedagogies, such as Dewey and Freire advocated), but to try to implement them on a large scale.  However, she finds that education in America is (and rightly so) conservative in the sense that it has been resistant to such reforms:

This attitude has, of course, nothing to do with that revolutionary desire for a new order in the world –Novus Ordo Seclorum– which once animated America; it is rather a symptom of that modern estrangement from the world which can be seen everywhere but which presents itself in especially radical and desperate form under the conditions of a mass society. It is true that modem educational experiments, not in America alone, have struck very revolutionary poses, and this has, to a certain degree, increased the difficulty of clearly recognizing the situation and caused a certain degree of confusion in the discussion of the problem; for in contradiction to all such behavior stands the unquestionable fact that so long as America was really animated by that spirit she never dreamed of initiating the new order with education but, on the contrary, remained conservative in educational matters.
In my my mind, this is where the real hope lies of preventing the privatization and corporatization of education.  The unions and independent teachers, along with parents, can resist these movements provided that they are shown for what they are--opportunities for Republicans to undermine a Democratic base; opportunities for ed tech companies to make billions from schools, students and parents; and opportunities for ending public funding of schools.

It appears that many Americans get this. According to the 2013 Gallup/PDK poll:   most Americans oppose standardized tests and tying them to teacher evals; 70% support their teachers; while they support charter schools, they are very opposed to vouchers; they identify the biggest problem with public schools as funding.

What worries me is that the big corporate interests, from Apple to the Gates Foundation to Pearson, in conjunction with the Republicans, "reform" Democrats, will use the media to push their agendas so that uncritical views end up being adopted, regardless of the evidence.

Teneat lineam!  

Originally posted to dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 12:49 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The problem with the comparison to (18+ / 0-)

    Skinner in the fifties is that the current efforts are underwritten by billionaires who see technology as a way to tap a new source of profit, and they will spend deeply to get what they want.  And destroying the teachers union is a major part of that. Once destroyed it will be almost impossible to make a comeback.  Unfortunately, Arnie Duncan is a part of the anti-union movement, and keeps finding new ways to undermine teachers and unions.

    Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

    by Leftleaner on Sat May 10, 2014 at 01:29:58 PM PDT

    •  Well, the teaching machine Skinner uses was (3+ / 0-)

      built by IBM.  What was missing then was the volatile mix of "reformists" plus ed tech that we have today.  Also, since technology is so much more ubiquitous to the average person, the push has more "common sense" aspect than in Skinner's time.

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 01:47:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Like TV in the 50s (7+ / 0-)

    Educational TV programs and (possibly more so in the USA; films) were, I suspect, seen in somewhat the same way in the 1950s. They could deliver "lectures" and you would only need a cheaply paid supervisor to oversee the students watching passively.

    That failed for obvious reasons and the best educational TV is used as a resource alongside workbooks and teacher's notes on how to introduce the topics.  In the 1960's the Labour Government devised the Open University as the "university of the air" believing graduate level courses could be delivered by broadcast TV. It rapidly became obvious that conventional support like tutors and one week summer schools would be needed as well as large amounts of written materials and reference books.

    In schools, teachers are needed to monitor the student's social progress, identify potential learning problems or challenges and many other "non-instructional" tasks that an untrained teacher would be incapable of. An important part is the interaction with parents whose involvement in the education of their children is seen as one factor in the reasons for higher standards between countries in a recent Pearson/Economist report which I diaried on recently.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:01:39 PM PDT

    •  If you click the link I gave for (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tarkangi, mzkryz, boji, sawgrass727, jbsoul

      "lack of quantitative research", you'll see the editorial from the British Journal of Educational Technology, where in the section entitled "The Revolution is Always about to Happen"  (about halfway down) they discuss the issue of initial enthusiasm compared to actual implementation.  They use a "Gartner Hype Circle" to explain--it's worth reading.

      Let me read your diary and I'll comment separately.

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:11:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding PISA (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mzkryz, JanL, NoMoreLies, kurt, jbsoul

        I think you have to be wary of using data from standardized tests in general to rank countries' educational progress.  Doing so just legitimizes the standardized testing movement.  From The Guardian:

        Now nearly 100 leading educational figures from around the world have issued an unprecedented challenge to Pisa – and what they call "the negative consequences" of its rankings – in a letter to its director, Andreas Schleicher. The signatories include top academics from Cambridge, Oxford, London, Bristol, Stanford (California), Columbia (New York), Ballarat (Australia), Canterbury (New Zealand) and Stockholm universities.

        The OECD, the letter says, has "assumed the power to shape education policy around the world". Using "tests widely known to be imperfect", it encourages governments to seek "short-term fixes" to climb the rankings; narrows our ideas of what education should be about; and kills the "joy of learning", turning it into "drudgery". Pisa, the signatories argue, dramatically increases the reliance on "quantitative measures" to rank and label pupils, teachers and heads. It is distorting the curriculum, reducing teachers' autonomy and increasing stress levels in schools. The letter points out that the OECD – which has 34 member nations, most of them European – is focused on the economic role of schools

        Furthermore, given that Pearson (which not only develops curriculum, but produces standardized tests and scores them) has a vested interest in pushing educational "reforms", standing to make massive profits in doing so, I would take anything they say with a grain of salt.  In fact, it has just won the contract to score the Common Core test.(PARCC).

        To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

        by dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:24:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          The Pearson/Economist report is a sort of "poll of polls" that takes into account PISA and other scores but also achievements in tertiary education. It weighs in other factors like adult literacy and numeracy along with other factors. They emphasize that their's is a way of pointing to factors in other countries that seem to correspond with higher attainment. One is the esteem in which teachers are held measured by their income relative to the median. Their emphasis is to use these to examine your own system and improve it rather than take on others' wholesale.

           

          "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:41:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The home school people can buy a cloud based (8+ / 0-)

    curriculum.  The big problem with it is that parents can't keep their student/children on task or tutor them when needed.  The content looks good but it takes motivation to master those fractions.

  •  If "technology integration" means (7+ / 0-)

    replacing paper books and worksheets with virtual ones, I'm not for it either.

    When I talk to Pearson reps, it's so obvious that's what kind of teachers they were  -- the kind that sit at their desk all day while students do seatwork.

    There is some really great stuff online, though: PhET, Molecular Workbench, Geology Labs Online.  Too bad I don't get to use it anymore since I teach in a ghetto district and computers are only allowed to be used for test taking practice.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:46:39 PM PDT

    •  There is some great stuff on-line (6+ / 0-)

      and I use it regularly, but I'm the gatekeeper and integrate it within the context of what I am teaching--the ed tech phenomenon that Moe wants to push is one where "googling for knowledge" replaces the teacher with an educational facilitator.  MOOCs are being pushed for higher ed in the same way.

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:50:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Former students doing GradPoint (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dizzydean, jbsoul

        for credit retrieval (not for my course) frequently come to me for tutoring.  If they can't even pass the GradPoint assessments without help from a real live teacher, I doubt if there's much authentic learning going on.

        I was at an AP Summer Institute a couple of years ago and there was a woman on the course who had finished her degree online.  She didn't feel like she'd learned anything.

        I think the people pushing this are the type who see "education" as nothing but a paper chase.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sat May 10, 2014 at 03:21:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I supposed the first question (9+ / 0-)

    is always "what is education?"  The second is "what is it for?"  

    The Ed Tech method(s) is/are really education to fit corporate needs.  The corporate model is already failing.  Why would we teach to such needs when they are the exact ones which are destroying us?

    "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tiaooiIo0 at 16:24).

    by Publius2008 on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:48:23 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the rescue! (0+ / 0-)

    Always happy to be on the Community Spotlight!

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:30:44 PM PDT

  •  Love your Portuguese subtitles (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, Chi, Nisi Prius, jbsoul

    Personally I think that Skinner was a genius but too many skinnerians, like too many christians, stood the master's teachings on its head.

    My own experience with teaching is at the university level, but in light of my experiences with the meddling fools on Capitol Hill I am more than happy to defer to the professional expertise of the elementary and secondary teachers and to support the teachers' unions as a bulwark against those who would crush them.

    As a personal reflection, I am using Rosetta Stone to brush up on my Spanish and I find that it works great as a technical exercise: I would crush any standardized test you might throw at me.  Yet I find that it has not really helped me develop the language as a tool for human communication; that step will require something completely different.

    So the question of "what is an education?" is spot on.  I personally like the slogan that an educated person understands the origins of knowledge and the growth of ideas,  and that the habit of growth along the way is more important than the specific subject studied, but then I am a fusty old academic who is not involved in training grocery store clerks to provide their essential service.

    o caminho d'ouro, uma pinga de mel: Parati

    by tarkangi on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:36:02 PM PDT

  •  You can't save money with technology (9+ / 0-)

    What you can do is create a richer and more personalized experience when you combine it with the other resources you already have.

    Networks are expensive to maintain, both in hardware and in people. These laptops take batteries, and if you're constantly running the machines on batteries, you can expect them to last about a year, and to cost about $100 to replace annually.

    I can't think of any company with say 100 full time computer users who wouldn't have at least two people doing IT.

    The software can be richer and it can be changed more often... but when your material is in the cloud, you're at the mercy of your network and also your provider. If they want to charge you per hour or per seat per year then they can do so. If they want to change the content such that the content you loved last year is gone and replaced with something new that you incidentally will need to pay more for and get expensive training on, then you're pretty much stuck.

    Most classrooms aren't furnished or wired with the idea that every seat would have a power outlet and a big enough surface for a computer, even a laptop.

    The opportunities are amazing - especially for rural schools or for self-motivated learners, or kids interested in unusual fields. But they're not cost-saving.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:59:25 PM PDT

    •  I agree re: infrastructure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, jbsoul

      see the LA school districts for the model for disaster:  http://www.scpr.org/...

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sat May 10, 2014 at 05:06:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  OMG, costs. A bad story. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      out of left field, kurt, jbsoul, dizzydean

      About 10 years ago I worked for an Ed Tech company, and a couple of schoola in my local Florida district agreed to participate in beta testing.  One was a middle school and I conferred often with the on-campus technology coordinator.  A very skilled and dedicated man.

      The start-up Ed Tech company folded (good product but the CEO was insane--always changing features and we ran out of investor confidence and cash).  Fast forward to now.  

      My daughter now attends a large middle school in the same school district.  About 1,000 students with corresponding staff and faculty size.  

      I am friends with the front office manager and she told me her desktop went kaput and she lost a lot data.  No backup.  I then learned that the school district did away with the on-campus tech coordinators to save money, and apparently there was no centralized school district tech help for her.  

      I offered to help but she explained that Mr. Smith, the music teacher, will fix it for her.  The music teacher?  Turns out he gets an extra stipend for doing tech help for faculty and staff but...he isn't teaching music when he's fixing tech problems!  He does this during regular school hours.  My daughter reports that when he leaves the classroom for tech help, the music room turns into a study hall.  

      The amount of penny pinching at the expense of actual education is unbelievable.

  •  We had dinner with (6+ / 0-)

    a friend this week.  He is German, and his son is our daughter's age (9). He and his wife had him when they were in their late forties, and he is somewhat developmentally delayed, such that he is in the equivalent second grade rather than fourth.  This friend acknowledged his son's difficulty in focusing, but he thought it occurred, or certainly was greatly exacerbated  by his son being given his assignments via a computer program that is horrifically boring.  Teaching is a fundamental human activity (ask any parent).  Computers can't replace teachers, and anyone who thinks that computers can be more than a supplement to what a teacher is doing is deluding themselves.  

    •  One of the profs on my dissertation committee (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean

      has now come out with a new interactive software that looks pretty interesting.  We talked recently at a conference.  I asked him about using technology to replace and eliminate teachers, and basically his answer was that there are two things humans provide that technology can never replace:

      1)  The learning that happens in engaged conversation, the back and forth dialectic that allows students to construct understanding and knowledge.

      2)  Meaningful feedback as part of the evaluation process.

      It was an interesting conversation.  

      Thanks for the diary.  Good details about the killing of REAL education in this country . . .  

      "If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life." — Albert Schweitzer

      by mozartssister on Mon May 12, 2014 at 05:56:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What will happen (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, Van Buren, jbsoul

    when this

    As Neil Selwyn writes in Distrusting Educational Technology, ed tech is laden with neo-liberal and libertarian concepts, fostering individualism, consumerism and commodification of the individual and the educational space.  These efforts seek to prepare students for an entrance into the "New Economy" as laborers.  
    meets the new world of decreased resources, competition for resources and the completely different lifestyles that are burgeoning due to climate change?  Things are going to have to be different and education is not going to be technology dependent.

    Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

    by tobendaro on Sat May 10, 2014 at 05:40:53 PM PDT

  •  The crux of the thing: (8+ / 0-)
    [Arendt] found the emphasis on practical education for employment purposes to be against the actual purpose of education, which is to help student learn how to think in the adult world.
    Shall we have functioning cogs or functioning adults? Business has long preferred the former. As detailed in "An Underground History of American Education" (PDF) you can read speeches in the Congressional Record from the 1880s where Senators are panicked that an educated public is a unruly public. And something has to be done about it.

    What was done about it was factory education. Dang, they even built schools to look like factories for some decades.

    Here's the difference between 'high-tech learning' and real learning: Humans giving attention to the students, individually and collectively. There's an element no computer is going to mimic, as it's exchange of living presence which allows an osmosis between Adult and Child.

    That's what all this is about: stunting the plebes, but not so much that they can't make change and read roadsigns when making deliveries.


    A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned. -- Firefly

    by Jim P on Sat May 10, 2014 at 06:06:19 PM PDT

  •  According to studies, nonverbal counts for 54-93% (9+ / 0-)

    of understanding. When it is just verbal, there is a lot lost.

    PLUS! NO STUDY HAS EVER PROVEN THAT PERFORMANCE BASED PAY WORKS!!!

    Why don't people go to states where the union has been busted and see that the changes have not worked! There are no teachers unions in much of the south!

    Where there are no unions, the schools fail and private schools are where people are educated. The public schools spend 7-12,000 to educate a student per year. The private sector is closer to 20,000, community college 30,000 and a state college 40,000.

    Go to a state where public schools have failed, and you will see a lot of people paying for $20,000 a year for high school.

    Plus, teachers care. If you end the teacher, you end most of the people who care about kids.

  •  How can technology realize the goal of building (7+ / 0-)

    better people?

    Teaching kids stuff is one thing.  Lots of ways to do that, some good, some bad.  Whatever.

    We have lost sight of the real goal and that is building better, more capable, thinking people.

    I'm stunned at the number of things I could do after high school that kids today, with access to seriously greater resource mind you, simply cannot.

    Some of my classes back then had little more than a blackboard, some paper and some odds and ends.  We left that room able to think better.  What class was it?

    English.  Funny thing.  The guy made us write every Friday.  We show up, he would drop the topic on us, and we had 40 minutes to knock something out.

    Sometimes it was basic, but stimulating like, "Tell me why this comic is funny."  Other times it was politics, "should we regulate X?"  One day, he came in and just asked us to recall a day from the past and write him a picture.

    Every Monday, we got the papers back.  He spent the weekend reading them, and we got them back stuffed with notes, comments, places we could have taken what we wrote, and it was a dialog.  All year long.  

    Beautiful now that I look back on it.

    We would rip into a few too.  He picked a few examples, some good, some fantastically bad, again, whatever, and just discuss it.  Everybody got the hot seat at one time or another with their work up there, but the culture was such nobody really felt bad about it.  We all were getting better.

    In between, we worked on form, grammar, words, roots, all sorts of things.  And we talked a lot.  Talked about writing, talked about thinking, talked about life, love, politics sometimes.

    And then we wrote about it all.

    I have great recall of my entire primary school education.  I can actually tell you what we did each year, often why, always who, and I could write pages like this on those educators that built better, thinking people.

    There were a fair number of them in my little backwater town.

    Now I rarely get to see them, and my kids only had the pleasure of a couple.  The rest were grinding out the standard stuff for a lot of reasons.

    My Government teachers taught Thomas Paine.  My kids never heard of the guy, and only had a fleeting glimpse at the Federalists overall.

    Civics?  Yeah, we did that.  And in fact, I protested in 5th grade, Mrs Capasso.  I was concerned that I was just memorizing people's names and positions, arguing that it could be any linked set of items, who cares?

    She responded with a very complete detail of Oregon politics and we asked a lot of questions.  At the end of 5th grade, I knew who those people were, some of what they did, how they would impact me, why I should care, etc...

    Amazing, and she had the freedom to do it back then too.

    Can that happen now in most schools?  Hardly.

    Not the educators fault in most cases.  I'm quite sure they would take that up and leverage it as the fine ones I had did.

    Another thing.  I grew up dirt poor.  Sometimes had trouble eating.  Once I went to the library to research everything possible to eat!  Used to go outside, find it, eat it, happy days!

    Educators taught me that's how you solve problems, empower yourself, get through, do what it takes, build, grow, do, love, play.

    As a grade schooler, that was powerful!  Spend a few days reading and suddenly have one less core worry in life!  That sold me.

    You can find a diary here, "on growing up" or something like that in my diary list.  It highlights what I got out of school, skills realized, accomplishments made.  When I left high school, I could do real things.  Most kids can't, and why is that?

    Because we've lost focus on the goal, that's why.

    Honestly, the most important thing I got out of my primary education was learning how to learn and socialization and the fine arts.  Music and theater changed my life, though I wouldn't know it at the time.  It was just fun and I loved it all.

    But later, being a geek who could write, speak, show 'n tell, engage people in conversation?  Yeah, that's paid me off so many times I can't even begin to describe.

    Know how that happened?

    A music teacher talked to a drama teacher.  They saw something in me that needed to be teased out.  So they conspired and worked me into a play.  Bought a script that fit my talents and sold me on it.  Toughest time of my young life!  But, an important one.

    The skills I learned that year, confidence I got from the experience have carried me places I never knew.  Got to tell 'em too.  Sometimes having a friend or two growing up with educators as parents has it's dividends.  I knew them well enough to close that loop, which they rarely get.

    Know what else I got from that?

    How to work with kids.  They modeled it there for me, and all I had to do was pay attention.  Today, I can take a kid for a drive and get right to the core of what is eating at them, and from there, mentor, build, inspire just as they did, using the same techniques they did.

    Techniques I don't see play out in schools the same way these days.

    And that disturbs me.

    Technology?

    Yeah, OK.  I think it should be in the schools, but it's not the end to justify means.  It's a tool.  The real education is seat time and face time, humans debugging and interacting, empowering, supporting, inspiring other little humans to tease the great adults out of them we know are so often there.

    This is long, but I'll share a great tech experience.

    So we had these computers.  Apple ][ computers.  We got disks to run, and some of us changed those disks because we read the books that came with the computer.  We put jokes on them.

    That educator took the 4 of us, put us in a corner and said, "you need to tell me what you want to do, then do it and tell me why"  That was it!

    We did stuff!  He got us books, he helped us learn, we did binary on the black board, we learned assembly language, etc...  I ended up teaching LOGO one year for a project!

    That guy changed my life and the tech was there to learn on, but it was the educator who understood how to teach kids how to learn and to focus them and bring out that which lies within.

    I hate reading these kinds of things.  Depressing.

    Go Teachers Unions!  We need you.  Our kids need you.

    And we don't need the shit you deal with every day.  Not at all.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    The ACA is all about getting started toward great health care. No turning back. The way forward is through. Every Democrat is married to this law and we all need to work together to make it awesome.

    by potatohead on Sun May 11, 2014 at 12:16:43 AM PDT

  •  my kid and every other 6th grader in our public (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, mommyof3

    school system will get an ipad next year. We also begin full use of common core standards.

    We also as a state just voted for a tax increase specifically for K-12 education.

    I like and support public education and especially teachers unions. I don't support unions making decisions about curriculum or the adoption of technology. I'm all for negotiations over pay and working conditions.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun May 11, 2014 at 08:06:11 AM PDT

    •  Unions are not the ones choosing curriculum or (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      technology--those decisions are being made by your state and/or school administration, often against the wishes of the unions/individual teachers.  As you know, these decisions are often political, with (as the point is the point of this diary) ulterior motives.  

      Do you know why your state moved in this direction?  

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sun May 11, 2014 at 09:09:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you mean why did they vote to increase funding? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dizzydean

        I think because we really needed more money. Class sizes were approaching and exceeding 30, lots of infrastructure was crumbling.

        Common Core I don't know why, maybe so we could be part of a national standard? I personally like it because it sets goals for a basic core of knowledge that kids weren't getting. Our state standards and tests were clunky to put it kindly.

        ipads I figure to bring students into the current century. We all use computers all the time for everything we do. Kids need to be current. Universal computers for public schools means poor kids get educated in a basic technology too.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Sun May 11, 2014 at 09:54:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would say that your reasons are (0+ / 0-)

          honest, though I would suggest looking deeper.  To buy into Common Core is to buy into standardized testing and "accountability", which is where Moe wants you to go.  

          iPads are all of four years old (they came out in April of 2010)--yet now they are indispensable for education?  There have also been ZERO quantitative studies demonstrating that they enhance student performance.  As many teachers I work with and know have said, get the damned screens out of my way so I can teach!  

          As for "universal computers" for public schools--another fallacy. See the mess in the LA Unified Schools for an example of how much needed cash can be thrown away on ill-conceived tech platforms while there are actual building repairs and teacher shortages that need to be addressed.

          To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

          by dizzydean on Sun May 11, 2014 at 11:10:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Standardized testing was around... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dizzydean

            as well as the accountability movement LONG before Common Core came into existence.  States who are NOT using Common Core also have some horrid testing regimes (see Virginia)...

            Standards are not the same thing as standardized testing.

            You can have standards and NOT give crazy, poorly written tests.  We just haven't seen that... because there are companies with monopolies on testing in many states.  That is really the issue.  Standards are fine-- one test on one day is NOT the way to assess student progress on standards.

            Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

            by mommyof3 on Sun May 11, 2014 at 02:13:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, I would say that while standardized testing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mommyof3

              has been around for some time, it's the linkage between testing and standards that is the issue.  In particular, the high stakes testing (which is different from the old SRA test) that we got under NCLB and Race the Top combined with standards.  While there have been state standards, Common Core links standards and high stakes testing.  And yes, Pearson in particular stands to make gobs of money over this combination.

              To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

              by dizzydean on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:27:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Nice diary, but did you mean (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean

    teneat lineam ?

  •  This whole argument goes back to the Prussian (0+ / 0-)

    state school system of the late 18th century, built on early factory automation principles from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One of the main goals was to dumb down teacher education in the manner of the assembly line to the point where every student would get the same lesson on the same day from the same textbook presented in the same way. Furthermore, their approved public philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814) wrote, in the best Platonic ideal manner:

    You must fashion [the person], and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will.
    Addresses to the German Nation

    where Plato had written

    The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male or female, should be without a leader. Nor should the mind of anybody be habituated to letting him (or her) do anything at all on his (or her) own initiative–to his leader he shall direct his eye and follow him faithfully. And even in the smallest matter he should stand under leadership. For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals...only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, and to become utterly incapable of it.
    Laws 942d (350 BCE)

    Plato, Fichte, and the Prussian government had it very strongly in mind that all of this would keep the populace from interfering in the wars that the ruling class would then be free to organize and carry out for their own aggrandizement.

    That is what the Right still wants, although they do not agree on which version of it they want, whether vitriolic anti-Communist, pseudo-Christian, some flavor of Libertarianism nonsense that thinks it appropriate to impose itself on us all, or a grand mish-mash of all of the Republican Conspiracy Theories. Wherever they come from, you are to know no more than is required to do your job without thinking, and to toe their particular ideological line. In short,

    When I want to hear your opinion, I'll tell it to you.
    But ed tech doesn't work that way. It gives students access to all of the riches of the online world that schools do not explicitly block (although I have worked on remedies for that), and to each other, in the same class, the same school, the same town, the same state, the same country, the same entire global online community.

    I helped to write Bypassing Internet Censorship, which is available in a number of relevant languages.

    More broadly, I work with One Laptop Per Child and its Free Software and Open Educational Resource (OER) partner Sugar Labs on creating hardware, software, and content materials with which children can teach themselves what their teachers want to keep from them, or do not even know. There are at least 100,000 OERs, including textbooks meeting the standards of several US states and other countries, in English and several other languages.

    Many OERs are published under Creative Commons licenses, meaning that teachers, students, and others can adapt and correct them, and translate them to other languages, at no cost and without requiring special permission. The only requirement is that the results have to be published under the same license.

    Also, computers are cheaper than printed textbooks, which means that going to Free digital materials will disrupt the textbook publishing business and interrupt the stranglehold of school boards on the materials that teachers can use.

    And while we are at it, prospective teachers can also try out these tools and learn more of what the authorities don't want them to know, and especially to let the children in on.

    I would be happy to strategize with you.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Sun May 11, 2014 at 12:26:07 PM PDT

    •  Well, I would say that I would disagree (0+ / 0-)

      with the underlying pedagogy, which gets us back to discovery learning v. traditional forms.  I would also strongly point you to the British Journal of Educational Technology article in my second link--ed tech has too much enthusiasm and not enough hard data.  

      As for computers v. textbooks, that's another can of worms--do students learn better reading on a device or paper?  There are few studies on that topic, but see these links for a few early indicators:

       http://www.psyc.jmu.edu/...

      http://theforeigner.no/...

      http://blogs.edweek.org/...

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:18:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We have a study from Peru (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dizzydean

        showing a six-month advantage in cognitive skills among children using computers, plus of course lots of advantages in computer skills.

        Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program

        Tests for traditional math skills which teachers in Peru have not been taught to teach with computers have naturally not shown any advance in this study. Some have seized on that fact to try to discredit the rest of our work.

        However we have other cases where the computer can teach certain math skills without teacher intervention when the software is designed for that purpose. Peru, Uruguay, Nepal, Rwanda, and several other countries are investing in trying to find out how to teach standard subject matter effectively using computers, with or without adequately trained teachers, and in some cases with no teachers.

        I can point you to other studies on other aspects of computers in education showing results that I consider significant, going back to early IBM-funded experiments in reading and math by Omar Khayyam Moore and Ken Iverson (whom I worked with a little much later on), and to the Xerox work on Smalltalk led by Alan Kay (whom I have also worked with a little). I am currently editing the manual for the Dr. Geo geometry program in Smalltalk, and I have worked extensively on a Smalltalk/Etoys Reference Manual.

        I joined the OLPC program just after Seymour Papert suffered a terrible brain injury while attending an education conference in Vietnam, otherwise I would have worked with him, too. But I have worked extensively with those who worked with him, mainly on using variations on his Turtle Art idea for teaching math subjects from basic number systems up to fundamental concepts of Computer Science.

        Of course, there is fierce argument that none of the advances reported from our work signify anything, as argued by many with a stake in other methods.

        Overall, however, our finding is that our materials and methods are far better than the alternative for millions of such children around the world: nothing at all. No schools, no trained teachers, no textbooks in their own languages. As in the famous Hole-in-the-Wall computer study, illiterate children can learn to work a computer without a teacher.

        How to provide literacy training without a teacher is under study, based in part on the Edison Talking Typewriter experience, and in part on using Text-to-Speech software in the manner of India's very effective Same-Language-Subtitling program. How far we can go from there is completely unknown.

        Please tell me about the controversy you see between discovery learning and traditional forms. There are a lot of different versions of both.

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Sun May 11, 2014 at 10:00:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, first off, were the studies you provided (0+ / 0-)

          or participated in qualitative?  See from the BJET I cited above:

          Research into educational technology is typically carried out by individuals or small groups of researchers working in isolation in single classrooms or single institutions. By contrast, medical research uses meta-analyses and large-scale collaborative research to increase statistical power, improve estimates of the size of effects, resolve uncertainty when reports disagree and acknowledge that many of the problems addressed are interdisciplinary in nature. Goldacre (2013) has recently called on the UK Department of Education to foster an evidence-based approach to improving teaching and learning. He emphasises that medicine has advanced, not as a result of conducting a few individual trials on a few single topics in a few settings here and there, but through “randomised trials,” applying different interventions in thousands of randomly selected settings to discover what works best and why. He recommends the creation of a new culture in education wherein evidence is sought and used as a matter of routine and crucially, widely communicated, understood and put into practice.
          As for the pedagogy, see my third link above.

          To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

          by dizzydean on Mon May 12, 2014 at 04:18:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have cited research at every scale from (0+ / 0-)

            a few individuals (Moore) to entire countries (Peru), and there is much more. Yes, we have quantitative studies, using well-regarded standardized measures of achievement in some cases (as you would have known if you had even read the abstract from the Peru report), and reporting unprecedented phenomena in others. I would be delighted to see a source of funding for research on the scale that Goldacre recommends, to a high scientific standard.

            However, scientific medicine began to advance with such individual studies as William Harvey on The Circulation of the Blood in the 17th century, James Lind (A Treatise on the Scurvy) in the 18th century, John Snow's 19th century statistical study of a cholera outbreak in London, leading to the source at a single pump, and of course such luminaries as Pasteur and Lister, who transformed industries as well as vast swaths of medical practice. We are still working on the consequences of their innovations and discoveries. One would do well not to sneer at small-scale research when new phenomena are being uncovered.

            I entirely disagree with the paper you cited against discovery learning.

            Our goal in this article is to put an end to this debate.
            What a fatuous and monstrously egotistical remark.

            It is of the same order of mental pygmyism as those who refused to look through Galileo's telescope because they already knew that it was lying when it showed the moons of Jupiter and mountains on the moon.

            It is the same order of pedagogical nonsense as the debate between phonics exclusively and whole word exclusively in teaching reading. I made some contributions to the PBS series Children of the Code, which goes into the problem of English spelling in some depth. Raymond Kurzweil, the inventor of multi-font OCR and text-to-speech for his reading machines, has pointed out that English has hundreds of spelling rules with hundreds of exceptions, such as rough, cough, through, though, and the older spellings plough, lough, hiccough.

            He wound the bandage around the wound.
            It is of the same order of foolishness as the experiment that "conclusively" proved that orange juice does not cure scurvy, in which the sea captain in charge ordered the juice boiled to concentrate the active ingredient, thus destroying all of the vitamin C in the juice. It set back scurvy treatment in the British Navy by 20 years, even though it followed Captain Lind's study that not only proved the juice effective, but invented the control group protocol for scientific medical studies.

            I do not have time and space here to point out the methodological flaws in the research cited by Clark et al. that I claim are at the level of that scurvy study. If you will agree to read the papers I can cite, starting with the Peru report linked in my original comment, I will read his, and we can continue this in regular e-mail. I am mokurai@sugarlabs.org.

            Discovery and instruction are not an either-or. See, for example, Musska Mosston (Rutgers Education), The Spectrum of Teaching Styles: From Command to Discovery. My mother was a colleague of his when both were teaching at Weequahic High School in Newark NJ, and again at Rutgers when he was on faculty and she was a Ph. D. candidate.

            In effective discovery learning teachers must know precisely what can be discovered, and to what degree, and when to provide guidance, and in what forms. See, for example, my Wiki page The Undiscoverable at Sugar Labs, which clearly lays out the issue for our Sugar education software as provided on One Laptop Per Child XO laptops. The software was carefully designed for maximum discoverability, but we necessarily could not manage to make everything in the software discoverable for those who had no idea what a computer is capable of.

            We have a number of instances (personal communication) in which physics has been successfully taught at the high school level strictly by asking a graded series of questions, one per class session, and requiring the students to investigate it in any way they can think of. There is no way that the students can think of the appropriate questions on their own. It took centuries for our top scientists, from Gilbert and Galileo onward to string theory and supersymmetry, to think of those questions. But nowadays anybody with appropriate equipment can find the answers to many of them in collaboration if they know what they are looking for. Did you know that high-school students can get observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope?

            Another important form of discovery learning is to ask a class to go out on the Web and find resources on a particular subject to share. In Peru this has resulted in students telling their parents how to improve their farming techniques, thus raising family incomes. That is not something a standardized test will tell you.

            Here is Galilean gravity for ten-year-olds, based on a talk by Alan Kay about actual classroom experiences. Children are instructed on building mathematical models and on capturing videos of falling objects, and then asked to put the observations and the models together to find out which model suggests a law of gravity.

            Alan Kay, Seymour Papert, and their colleagues did foundational work on tools that can be used effectively for discovery (the Smalltalk and Logo languages) and on working out in detail what topics can be taught this way and how. Many of them are part of the OLPC project.

            Again, the Hole in the Wall study clearly demonstrated that illiterate children could learn to operate a computer with great skill in the absence of any instruction, but could not learn to read on their own using the software provided at the time. So we are researching how to teach them to read. They did not learn any school subjects. So we are researching how to teach school subjects.

            But we are also researching what children can learn with a computer that nobody could have taught them without one. That is what most of the debate misses.

            Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

            by Mokurai on Mon May 12, 2014 at 08:11:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  If I were you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dizzydean

          I would look more skeptically at the results of educational studies.  Especially when they point to the need to invest in new educational materials.  

          The curriculum and tech industries are really the elephants in the room.  

          The problem in the classroom is that they are seeking solutions under a business framework.  They are constantly seeking to increase productivity so that there is more return on their investment.

          I spent some time in a school where they did constant nonsense word testing.  It was ridiculous.  

          Streichholzschächtelchen

          by otto on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:42:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Improving Quality in Education (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean

    I've said before, and I'll say again: If you want to improve the quality of education you have to get to the root cause. The primary root cause of poor quality in education is poor quality in the environment in which that education takes place. That environment is the relationship of the schools to their community.

    To improve quality we need to improve that environment. Part of that is with better funding. The appropriate level for funding is at the state and federal level, not at the local level. That's because there is too much variation in the wealth of communities at the local level.

    Any focus on the teachers (including a focus on the unions) is totally missing the point. The teachers are not the problem. If someone tells you they can improve the quality and then they start talking about teachers' unions, they automatically don't know what they're talking about. You can safely disregard anything they say after that.

    Aside from the funding issue, there's the question of how the community holds their schools. Do the people in the community back the public schools? Do they provide support by getting involved in school policy and helping strengthen the methods employed? Do they work with the teachers instead of against them to maintain a healthy teaching environment? Do parents volunteer with the school system?

    I think we need to measure school systems on how much the community supports the schools. In this measure, points would be gained by parents participating in the system and be deducted for the number of private and/or charter schools operating in the area.

    And funding should be provided to the public schools based on the number of students going to school in that geographical area, regardless of the number of students in the public system. With that money coming from the state and federal governments it would tend to equalize spending, thus providing the funds for schools in poor areas to improve.

    Note that this would eliminate funding formulas based on testing. Testing should tell us whether our methods are working and point up problems where they aren't. It isn't an appropriate factor in funding.

    Technology is going to be used in education, but the best person to make the decisions about how to use it are well-educated and well-informed teachers. If you give someone the responsibility to do something (teach) then you need to give them the freedom to make decisions on how they will implement that responsibility. The interference with teachers has gone on long enough. It's time to pull the plug on the politics and let them get on with their jobs.

    •  Yes--and this is why charters are undermining (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      semioticjim, Liberal Thinking

      the public schools so much by taking away the PS funding while still leaving them with the same size infrastructure to pay for.  Interesting article from today's Philly Inquirer on this:

      http://www.philly.com/...

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:22:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Charter Schools an Expensive Financial Experiment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        otto, dizzydean

        It takes a while to get to the point, but there it is:

        So as far as Wall Street is concerned, the state-supported, chaotic shift from public to charter schools is an expensive financial experiment, with the public - families, taxpayers, and school bond investors - bearing the cost.
        And yet, the public keeps investing. I'd like to start a movement to get rid of charter schools and roll them all back into the public school system. Any school that gets taxpayer money should be open to everyone in the geographical area, open for auditing by federal and state authorities, and subject to the same collective wage bargaining as the rest of the schools in that area.

        Otherwise, you're causing the public schools to fail, so you don't need to ask why they're not doing so well.

    •  I would add (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean, Liberal Thinking

      If we solve the some of the more pressing family economic issues, we can solve the ed problem.

      This requires a holistic look at the lives of the families, and very practical approaches to problems that do not involve the use of punitive measures which force families into a set of bad choices.  

      For instance, pay something like the German kindergeld.  This is money that families can get to defray the cost of raising a child.  In addition to the excellent family leave benefits, the new parents receive a monthly sum from the German government.  

      It reduces the need for someone to return to work.  It increases the chance of a decent childhood.  The new parent is probably going to become less productive at such an early return to work, so you're probably just reducing that.  

      And, the money goes directly back into the economy.

      College should be funded for those with the desire and the qualifications.  

      We should have a more organized and effective approach to train people to work in the trades.  Operating in a field like electrical work, or plumbing should be seen as a good choice in life.  

      These benefits need to be invisible to the outside observer.  We have such stigma attached to the idea of benefiting from government programs for the middle class.  

      In business, however, it's just what you do.

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:58:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, We Should Look at Alternatives (0+ / 0-)

        I would prefer that society not pay anthing that encourages population growth. There are already over 7 billion humans. One reason it is so expensive to raise a child now, including the cost of education, is that there are so many people. It's putting a drain on the resources.

        But the Germans have other great ideas. One is that they pay unemployed people their unemployment benefits even when they start a new business. This encourages people to make themselves productive. They also have a much better and more comprehensive healthcare system than we do. This just leads to stronger communities, and that's reflected in the schools. So, there are a lot of lessons there, and I'd like to see some of them applied here.

        And really, I think this comes down to more than funding. It comes down to how the community interacts with the school. If the community values schools, values teachers, values education, I think the schools there do better even if they don't have as much funding as other places.

        And look at Finland. They completely revamped their schools system with the aim of providing the highest quality education. It takes five years to become a teacher. You have to get essentially a regular four-year teaching degree, and then you have to do a one-year apprenticeship. This sends a strong message to everyone that education is important. It gives status to teachers.

        Even if we don't require the same standards, I think we should do something concrete to increase the status of teachers. Maybe one of the teachers should always speak first at city council meetings. Perhaps the local priest should come and wash their feet. It doesn't have to be monetary, but it needs to send a strong message.

        I had great teachers in my education, all through the public schools, grades 1-12. (We didn't have Kindergarten.) I would like all students to have that experience. So, I know it can be done entirely within the public school system. I have the existence proof.

        •  I pretty much described FInland (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Thinking

          FInland has a social infrastructure that is much better than ours.

          There is a birth to college graduation path that is available to any child.  

          They give the family money for each kid until the kid is 17. They pay the family when the mother is pregnant.  

          Generous parental leave gives way to every child being entitled to preschool.  

          So, yes they are doing great things with their education, but it's not at all the same.  

          The great income inequality that we face causes many of these problems.  

          Those things are the norms in European Democracies.  If you want to talk about their education, then we have to understand the entire context of it.

          Streichholzschächtelchen

          by otto on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:06:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Vaporware and bullshit are killing education (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean
  •  There are two kinds of education in this World... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean

    ...the first is to educate children so their innate talents, curiosity for learning and intellectual capacities may unfold naturally and intact. The second can be seen in authoritarian nations where the state, utilizing propaganda, subterfuge and coercion, imprints onto the minds of children what the (corporate) state values.

    Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun May 11, 2014 at 07:43:46 PM PDT

  •  There are several activist groups on the... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean

    ...front line of this battle.

    And we are not backing down.

    National Leadership in both teachers unions need to step down.

    Weingarten and Van Roekel have taken money from the Gates Foundation to prop up CCSS which was soley created for tech and testing corporations to do what the diarist is warning us about.

    Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun May 11, 2014 at 07:57:38 PM PDT

  •  One thing we just have to get over (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean

    They have been predicting that new technology will kill teaching.  

    It never has.  

    The other thing we have to just get out of the way is the idea that you can judge the quality of a teacher based on the test scores of six year olds.  

    It just doesn't work.  

    The number of hours we spend with kids is so minimal compared to all the other hours.  

    My daughter's school was irritatingly pushy this year about the test stuff.  

    Even when someone doesn't have a paycheck riding on the outcome of the scores, there is always going to be a contingent of people who see it as so important that they will actually cheat.  

    Look what happened with the cheating under DC's Rheeform.  

    Streichholzschächtelchen

    by otto on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:38:39 AM PDT

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