Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hey Superman, Is That "S" a $ sign?

"Hey Waiting for Superman, is that 'S' a $?"
Image Source: http://www.eatsleepgeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Superman___Batman.jpg

Times are hard, and it's always about the economy these days. You'll notice I've added a DONATE button to my blog to facilitate "micro-donations" of $2.00. But what would happen if that donation was NOT fully disclosed, the sources for it kept hidden, and the donation expected to impact my blog content? (No, i'm not referencing the challenges the Republican Party had being transparent about "foreign" donors).

Wait, maybe it IS worthwhile to consider, if briefly, donations from folks out to set YOUR agenda. If it became obvious that your agenda was being manipulated by those who donated, then your lack of integrity would certainly lead to a loss of trust among readers.

In this Waiting for Superman article over at Educational Equity, the following point is made:
This year’s must-see documentary, Waiting for Superman is an emotional, painful look at the U.S. educational system, especially the bleak options for poor children in inner cities. Even its critics admit that it shines a light on educational disparities. At the same time, its admirers concede the film oversimplifies complicated issues, un- critically hypes charter schools and vilifies teacher unions.
What’s less obvious is how the film serves a coordinated and well-funded intervention in a polarized national debate over educational policy...In education, as in so many other aspects of society, money is being used to squeeze out democracy.
Caught smack in the middle of expensive cross-hairs are students, parents, and educators. In the early days of my career as an educator, I remember a point that Tom Snyder of Tom Snyder Software fame made in an article. The following is my best recollection, twice as long as what Tom wrote in his article:
Teachers have little say in stopping the influx of technology into schools...there was too much money to be made for businesses to allow anyone to stop technology into schools. But teachers could influence how that technology would be used in schools.
The two assertions in Tom's words include: 1) Business sees big money in pushing technology into schools and 2) Teachers had a chance to influence how it would be used. We now know the truth of those assertions.

In regards to big money being made by businesses, we know that school districts have happily been brainwashed to turn over significant amounts of federal, state, and local funding for the purchase of equipment we simply DO NOT USE to its full potential. Worse, that exploitation is not limited to technology (e.g. integrated learning systems, recurring licensing for MS Office, regular upgrades for Adobe products), but also extends to professional development and more. How many consultants has your district had come in over the last few months to push a particular curriculum reform, little different in results than the one before it?

As to the second point, teachers never had a chance to influence how technology would be used in schools. As a teacher technologist, later a campus instructional technology specialist, the challenges of time, access and attitude always came into play. But those 3 issues and the interplay between them fade in comparison to our manic desire to quantify student learning through high stakes tests.

Follow the money. I'm sure someone has done the work...how much did it cost to come up with the standards, the tests, the test booklets, train zillions of educators? Did that money stay in schools to improve teaching and learning or get siphoned off to private companies eager to make a buck?

Of the two superheroes, Superman or Batman, I like Batman. Superman is NOT the person I'm waiting for to help solve problems. Perhaps, this age-old argument has some wisdom for us:
Superman is who he is. He does not need to become someone else to fight crime. Quentin Tarantino has the best answer for this argument: "Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman... His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red 'S', that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears -- the glasses, the business suit -- that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, he's unsure of himself, he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
With this piece of wisdom, I'll be completely blunt--I don't want to Superman and find him worthless as a character worth of admiration. Better Batman in a dark alley than...waiting for Superman.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure