Sunday, January 1, 2012

Slow Down! Muckraking is unEducational

 "Technology provides access to more learning resources than are available in classrooms, and connections to a wider set of 'educators' including teachers, parents, experts, and mentors outside the classroom. On-demand learning is now within reach, supporting learning that is life-long and life-wide."
"Outside school, students are free to pursue their passions in their own way and at their own pace. The opportunities are limitless, borderless, and instantaneous. The challenge for our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students' daily lives and the reality of their futures." 
Source: National Education Technology Plan as cited in District Administration 
Ever wonder if high-flying plans like the one above are really just opportunities for private companies to make milk American public schools' funding and line the pockets of politicians and CEOs? If you do, then why should it come as a surprise that teachers aren't making money? After all, the role of teacher isn't to make money but to provide the cheapest service possible while maximizing the return on investment for for-profit companies out to suck American U.S. Public Schools dry.

Adapted from the following Image Source:

Chris Lehmann shares his thoughts on teachers NOT getting rich in education. Of course, we know that somebody is getting rich on education, it's just not the folks in the trenches or those supporting them, right?
In the summer of 2010, Lu Young, the superintendent of schools in Jessamine County, a Lexington, Ky., suburb, took a trip to Australia paid for by the Pearson Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Pearson, the nation’s largest educational publisher. Ten school superintendents went on the trip, which cost Pearson $60,000. While the foundation described the visit as a way “to exchange ideas on creating schools for the 21st century,” there was ample time for play. . .In April, Kentucky’s Education Department approved a $57 million contract with Pearson. And then, over the next six months, the commissioner who oversees that department, Terry Holliday, traveled to both China and Brazil on trips underwritten by — that’s right — the Pearson Foundation.
(Source: New York Times)
Sunshine is the best disinfectant...thank goodness muckraking is still alive, if on its last legs. What does one have to do to get that kind of junket? The answer is suggested in the original article linked above.

In truth, for educators, wouldn't it be neat to make a wage that allows you to send your kids to college and live comfortably--whatever that means in today's "middle class"--considering you spent a significant chunk of time earning a college degree or two? Of course, superintendents aren't poor folks. They make lots of money...but it's clearly not enough. Chris Lehmann writes the following:
There's nothing wrong with wanting to be economically secure. But thinking that we are going to somehow find the "best" teachers and make them rich is to set teachers off on a chase for something that makes the kids a mere means to an end that we shouldn't be chasing in the first place.
What does it mean to be the best teacher? Consider this perspective on changing how we approach teaching and learning a la flipped classroom approach (you know, having students review content at home via podcast lecture and then being engaged in class):
"With modern technology, if all there is is lectures, we don't need faculty to do it," Redish says. "Get 'em to do it once, put it on the Web, and fire the faculty." Some faculty are threatened by this, but Mazur says they don't have to be. Instead, they need to realize that their role has changed."It used to be just be the 'sage on the stage,' the source of knowledge and information," he says. "We now know that it's not good enough to have a source of information."
(Source: Physicists Seek to Lose the Lecture, NPR)
Of course, the sage on the stage concept has been around awhile and been under attack. Do our school systems promote the sage on the stage approach because it's so easy to criticize? Is this approach--high stakes testing, failure of schools and students--being rammed down people's throats so that we have to choose home-schooling, private/charter schooling options? That question is actually quite easy to answer.

And, Larry Ferlazzo also predicts this for 2012:
Strategies to use technology as a transformative tool in education will take a backseat as for-profit online learning charlatans and the Khan Academy take up the tech money and the media space.
The American Public Education has become a means to an end...students are a means to an end that puts money in the hands of politicians and their cronies. Whether it's the destruction of schools as we know them so that they can be remade to satisfy the elites who send their children to private, charter schools receiving taxpayer dollars (but aren't held accountable for them), or to funnel taxpayer dollars to big corporations like K12, Inc. to satisfy political ends....
More care must be taken to prevent public school systems from being milked,” read a November editorial in the Commercial Appeal.
“Where public funds are involved, legislators owe it to constituents to tread cautiously before leaping into new educational programs, no matter how promising they might sound.” (Source: Read more here)

Unlike some folks, I don't see a problem with teachers making a bit more money. It's been too easy to shortchange educators for the hard work they've been doing while sending state and district "leaders" off on junkets, setting up schools to fail so that we'll swallow what the politicians and their crony CEOs are selling.

I'm not buying. Why are you?

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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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