In tandem with my earlier blog on the Fordham panel on digital learning, I want to direct you to a blog from Will Richardson, a former public school educator and author of several books on learning and technology.
Richardson writes in response to this week’s Education Innovation Summit at Arizona State University and begins with a series of tweets from educator and blogger Chris Lehmann about the Gates Foundation sponsored event. Lehmann is principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia and co-chair of EduCon.
Among Lehmann’s tweets about the summit: Educators – if you don’t see that there is a billion dollar industry wanting to take over schools using tech as the Trojan Horse, wake up…Jeb Bush has said: a) he does not read edu research. b) he does not care about anything that is not a test score. Problematic…This is what scares me – those who do not believe in schools will use edu-tech-speak to dismantle the things we hold most dear.
In his blog, Richardson writes:
The strategy has become really clear: villify unions and teachers through policy and public outcry in ways that effectively compromise our voices when we push back, continue to frame education accountability in terms of our ability to compete against the world (as opposed to collaborate with the world) and, finally, promote more and more objective tests as the way to measure everything from “student achievement” to teacher effectiveness to teacher education programs to, oh, I don’t know, maybe how well the plumbing works. That is the recipe now to a) gain political favor and b) make lots and lots of money. And it’s working.
I’m not convinced anyone in the conversation wants to do harm to kids. But I am convinced that all of this is being driven by dollars. Tech is a huge part of this, not because it can enhance real learning in all of the ways we share in our network, but because it creates all sorts of efficiencies that are just now being realized. Want to really personalize learning in ways that a single teacher in a classroom can’t? Not a problem. Want to have kids write more, a lot more, while not having to grade any of it? Not a problem.
You get the idea. Remember this from last November?
This legislative juggernaut has coincided with a gold rush of investors clamoring to get a piece of the K-12 education market. It’s big business, and getting bigger: One study estimated that revenues from the K-12 online learning industry will grow by 43 percent between 2010 and 2015, with revenues reaching $24.4 billion.
And thereyago. “We need a grass roots rejection of this,” Chris Tweets, and I agree. We as a community of educators who see the learning world in quite a different light really do need to start discussing and debating this in meaningful, ongoing ways.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog