I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joel Klein Comes Clean

Nice to see Joel Klein finally confess to what the Common Core has really been about:
The good news is that the Common Core Standards, now adopted in 46 states, are creating incentives for innovation at the heart of the system. At last there's a common definition of what "good" looks like for students and teachers, at least in core subjects like math and English. This helps explain why venture capital is now flowing in record sums to startups seeking to serve K-12 schools—and why larger firms (likethe one I lead) are for the first time assembling world class teams of educators, technologists, and designers to tackle these challenges. 
There's no guarantee that many of these new entrants will succeed—that's the nature of capitalist innovation, in which many investment "bets" are made. But as radically more investment is devoted to enhancing teaching and learning, it raises the odds of breakthroughs that can demonstrably lift student outcomes. [emphasis mine]
Thank the lord we have common standards; it makes selling stuff to schools so much easier!

You know what else is going to help your chances, Joel? Giving your girl Michelle Rhee a boatload of money - which is what your boss Rupert Murdoch did (according to Steven Brill) - and sending her out to buy up state legislatures: in Florida, in New Jersey, in Michigan, in California... pretty much everywhere but Illinois, which Jonah Edelman already took care of.

See, once you've got control of the pursestrings, you can pretty much sell the schools anything you want. And the best part? You don't even have to show that what you're hawking actually works!
As this investment ramps up, public and private sector leaders need to work together to make school-related R & D as effective as possible. Serious barriers still exist. Before making purchasing decisions, for example, schools and districts typically demand "proof" that new products or services will be efficacious. Traditionally, such evidence has been collected through randomized, controlled trials that take years to complete. Compare that to the average product development cycle for smartphones or apps, where better mousetraps appear every year (if not every few months) and "prove" their advantages to millions overnight. 
My point: The timeframes governing education research are completely out of sync with the pace of technological change. If we don't find sensible ways to square this R & D circle, schools will inevitably lag behind.
Translation: don't ask us to show you that our garbage works before you buy it. Because by the time we've shown it does (or more likely, it doesn't), we'll have a whole new load of crap for you to buy.

It's really amazing that Klein is comparing the education of a child with a smartphone app. If you buy an app, it costs you maybe 99 cents; if it doesn't work, you trash it. When you're a school district, however, you spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of public dollars on curricula that affect every student in your district. If you buy a piece of junk that doesn't work, you've abused the trust of both the taxpayers and the children.

Don't you think maybe it's worth taking some time to get these things right?

Which is the problem with this new reformy obsession with technology: what's the point if it doesn't help kids? What if it encourages rote, mechanistic thinking? What if it increases the digital divide? That would lead to more shallow-thinking people - which would be good for Rupert's media empire, especially Fox News - but not for the nation.

But Klein is so worried that if we don't shell out millions for his latest video game, the schools will "lag behind." You know something? That would be good.

Our kids are inundated by consumerist-driven messages from the minute they open their eyes. They are subjected to loud, bright, crass, violent, inappropriate, inhumane, sexualized, disrespectful, intolerant media in a wide variety of delivery systems. This constant crush of sound and images is capable of dangerously desensitizing them to the real world - a world where they must learn to collaborate, to question, to evaluate, to empathize, and to respect each other.

Wouldn't it be great to give these kids a haven from the latest marketing craze? Where technology was used to get them to think deeply and divergently, not just quickly and convergently? Where their teachers guide them into the values of reason and logic and science and intellectual curiosity? Where they learn to do more than give into the omnipresent screen's exhortation to go get more, more, more?

Where they can learn to be more than workers? Where they can learn to be citizens? Where they can learn to question every stupid bromide that comes out of the latest idiot box?

Or is this antithetical to what the owners of this country - the Joel Kleins and the Rupert Murdochs - really want?

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying -- lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want -- they want MORE for themselves and less for everybody else. But I'll tell you what they don't want. They DON'T want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that, that doesn't help them. That's against their interests. That's right. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting ****** by system that threw them overboard 30 ******' years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want? They want OBEDIENT WORKERS. OBEDIENT WORKERS. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly ******** jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.
More on this later.

No comments: