inBloom, the non-profit started with a hundred million dollar investment from the Gates Foundation, is planning to create a digital record which, barring catastrophe, truly could be a permanent record of every K12 student, from their first interaction with the schools to the last. The amount of information they are planning to collect is staggering. Here are the several hundred categories, which include academic records, attendance records, test results of all sorts, disciplinary incidents, special ed accommodations, and more.
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May 20, 2013
May 16, 2013
This is a future I believe is possible given the systems and structures being promoted by technocrats like Gates. This is NOT the way the system has been described by Bill Gates or any of his representatives. They tend to use the language of feedback and collaboration. But as I have been asking, if collaboration is the goal, why must this be embedded in an evaluation process, which has the goal of determining who ought to be fired?
May 06, 2013
Teachers - and union leaders -- may feel as if they should get on board, to try to steer this process. However, I think this is a ship of doom for our schools. I think its effect will be twofold. It will create a smoother, wider, more easily standardized market for curriculum and technology. This will, in turn, promote the standardization of curriculum and instruction, and further de-professionalize teaching. The assessments will reinforce this, by tying teachers closer to more frequent timelines and benchmark assessments, which will be, in many places, tied to teacher evaluations. And the widespread failures of public schools will be used to further "disrupt the public school monopoly," spurring further expansion of vouchers and charters and private schools.
May 01, 2013
So what is wrong with these machines and this mechanical "personalization"? The modern versions of the teaching machines are certainly more sophisticated than these dinosaurs of the 1950s. But they have more in common than just the promises made on their behalf. If we look over the shoulders of children in computer labs today, most of the programs are variations of those described by Dr. Skinner. Students are given a short text or math problem and must provide the correct answer. Often there is a game or snazzy cartoon characters who dress up the process and make it more fun, but the essence has not changed much. Students follow a course of study with bits of learning sprinkled along a pathway, and then take periodic tests to show they have mastered that mouthful.
April 26, 2013
When it comes to education, however, Obama asserts a policy that has nothing to do with progressive ideas about education. While progressive ideas of education emphasize children as individuals who must be given opportunities to stretch their innate capacities within an organic context for learning, the President and Mr. Duncan have embraced the data-driven high-stakes-testing-model retooled from President Bush's No Child left behind days.
April 19, 2013
Teacher unions have not been the dynamic organizations they could or should have been. But to make them responsible for the reactionary tidal wave of phony reform upon which Michelle Rhee has surfed like one of the Beach Boys is absurd. It is like blaming climate scientists for the backlash against global warming. There are significant motivations powering corporate education reform, and its sponsors have poured billions into their project. They own this, and they own Michelle Rhee. They bought her, and now Merrow has helped to break her. Rhee and her billionaire sponsors, and the media who promoted her, they are the ones responsible for her rise to power way beyond that which she could have achieved without such support.
April 17, 2013
The Democratic Party has an internal battle ahead that goes to the very core of its spirit. Educators remain a core constituency, and public education reflects absolute core values. But the resolution by the California party convention is a signal that the road may no longer be smooth for leaders who embrace privatization and school closures. And the new focus by the GOP on an ever-less popular Common Core puts some Democrats in a spot where they do not have much wiggle room.
April 16, 2013
Rhee has not been alone, however, in foisting high-stakes testing on the entire nation. She has done so with the financing of billionaires and Duncan's D.O.Ed. So all three groups of accountability hawks should be held accountable. Rhee and her team in D.C. should all be subpoenaed. Corporate funders should demand an accounting of Rhee's StudentsFirst. Above all, they should reveal the what factual basis, if any, the organization has for its teacher-bashing soundbites.
April 04, 2013
This amounts to an attempt to distance the Gates Foundation from the asinine consequences of the policies they have sponsored, while accepting no responsibility for them whatsoever. This is a non-starter, as far as I am concerned. When Bill Gates states he is all for accountability, perhaps he might start with himself. Until then, I really do not value his views on what good accountability systems for others ought to consist of.
April 03, 2013
It is significant also that this analysis comes from the conservative/Libertarian source, the Cato Institute. As I have noted, opposition to the Common Core is rising in conservative circles, where people have historically been against Federal involvement in schools. The debacle of No Child Left Behind left educators weary, and as Common Core has been promoted as an improvement, many have embraced the shift. I have been, because I believe that the primary goal of the new standards is the creation of uniform high stakes assessments. Thus this will create MORE pressure to teach to the tests, rather than less.