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Media, markets and education May 11, 2007

Posted by @Doc in culture of learning, Education, educational reform, Libertarian, Scholars & Rogues.
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There’s a discussion in a comment thread over at Scholars & Rogues that may interest you, assuming you didn’t see it already. Gavin Chait is promoting the strength of global media (in particular talking about the health of newspapers) and I’m poking hard at a lot of the assumptions underlying the free market argument being made.

Predictably, it circles back around to education. Have a look.

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In a Technopoly, no one can hear you think… May 7, 2007

Posted by Jim Booth in culture of learning, Education, educational reform, technology.
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XPOST: Scholars and Rogues

“Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong…”

Stephen Stills

The New York Times reported Friday that the Liverpool (NY) school district will begin phasing out student individual use laptop computers beginning next year. Citing problems such as students using their computers to cheat on tests, to surf porn sites, and to hack into local businesses as well as nightmarish problems with network security, laptop hardware/software problems and system crashes caused by large numbers of students surfing the Net when they were supposed to be studying, Liverpool, like an increasing number of school districts, has decided to give up on the grand experiment of having a computer for every child:

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands. “The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.”

(more…)

Evolving a culture of learning April 6, 2007

Posted by @Doc in 2008 Campaign, culture of learning, Education, educational reform.
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The biggest challenge we face is one of momentum: America is not, and never has been, an intellectual culture. We do not, however much we might protest, live in a nation that treasures teaching and learning. On the list of things that we care about, education falls well to the south of things like entertainment and sports. Worse, in Instant GratificatioNation there is little tolerance for long-term solutions. We want it, we want it now, and if you don’t give it to us you will pay.

On the learning front, America is an object at rest, and objects at rest tend to remain that way until acted on by some force. The good news is that if we’re able to set our society in motion, that momentum then becomes something we can leverage in our long drive toward a sustainable culture of education.

The Culture of Education plank is now posted.

What Makes Teddy Run – Follow the Money…. April 5, 2007

Posted by Jim Booth in Domestic Policy, Education, educational reform, No Child Left Behind, No Child Left Untested, rich/poor gap.
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Dr. Slammy did a pretty good take-down on Teddy Kennedy in his recent post on Kennedy’s support of No Test Publisher Child Left Behind. But Kennedy is only a role player in the debacle that is our current education policy.

The truth of the matter is that Dubya’s education policy (remember, friends, he was going to be the “education president” before Andy Card whispered in his ear that terrorists had flown planes into the World Trade Center as he sat reading to 2nd graders in a Florida elementary school) is based primarily on family connection he has with the text and test publishing industry through his cousins the McGraws. And with brother Neil making a mint off NCLB with his software company that sells test prep materials to school districts across America, well, it’s just one big happy family, now isn’t it?

As Stephen Metcalf’s now well known article in The Nation illustrates, this is not some haphazard approach to education reform. It is a carefully planned strategy with a specific aim:

“The…Bush testing regime emphasizes minimal competence along a narrow range of skills, with an eye toward satisfying the low end of the labor market. All this sits well with a business community whose first preoccupation is ‘global competitiveness’: a community most comfortable thinking in terms of inputs (dollars spent on public schools) in relation to outputs (test scores). No one disputes that schools must inculcate the skills necessary for economic survival. But does it follow that the theory behind public schooling should be overwhelmingly economic? One of the reform movement’s founding documents is Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools, by Lou Gerstner, chairman of IBM. Gerstner describes schoolchildren as human capital, teachers as sellers in a marketplace and the public school system as a monopoly. Predictably, CEOs bring to education reform CEO rhetoric: stringent, intolerant of failure, even punitive–hence the word ‘sanction,’ as if some schools had been turning away weapons inspectors.”

This kind of approach to the problem shows clearly that economic self-interest is perhaps the only ideology driving what seems clearly to be this administration’s anti-“educated citizenry” agenda.Ted Kennedy may be a renowned Dem. But he’s a rich guy first. That “loose confederation of millionaires and billionaires, baby” that Paul Simon refers to is not a fiction. His support of NCLB, given his background as a champion of the less fortunate in American society, should raise red flags for thinking Americans….

I refer you to Deep Throat’s famous directive to Woodward and Bernstein (back when they were journalists and not bobbing their heads in the laps of the power brokers) – “Follow the money….”

ETS “perfect storm report” April 3, 2007

Posted by @Doc in Education, educational reform, rich/poor gap, test scores.
2 comments

I haven’t had a chance to parse this in detail, but the top line sounds about right:

Our nation is in the midst of a perfect storm, according to ETS researchers — and the forecast is grim — unless we invest in policies that will change our perilous course. (more…)