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Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: The Business of Ed-Tech
"Beyond VC Funding

“US education is a $1.5 trillion industry and growing at 5 percent annually,” McKinsey wrote excitedly this summer. Of course, venture capital is just one source of the money that’s pouring into ed-tech. There’s government funding, of course. There’s personal spending. And there’s lots and lots of “philanthropy.”

The Gates Foundation is perhaps the most famous of these philanthropic organizations, having spent billions of dollars pushing various education initiatives. In October, Bill Gates gave what Education Week observed was “his first major speech on education in seven years,” and indicated his foundation would “double down” on teacher preparation and common academic standards.

The other two giants in education foundations: the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

In September, the LA Times obtained a memo written by the Broad Foundation, outlining its $490 million plan to put half of LAUSD students in charter schools. The memo “lays out a strategy for moving forward, including how to raise money, recruit and train teachers, provide outreach to parents and navigate the political battle that will probably ensue.” It cites several large foundations and California multi-millions who could be tapped for more financial support.

[image: @EdSurge tweet: “Melinda Gates is saying that the role of foundations is to direct where government funding goes #GatesEd"]

And this underscores one of the major criticisms of these philanthropic efforts: they are profoundly anti-democratic. As John Cassidy wrote in The New Yorker earlier this month, “people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can.”

Zuckerberg’s name is next to Gates’ in that sentence because he has signed the “Giving Pledge,” Gates’ and fellow billionaire Warren Buffet’s challenge to the 1% to give away at least half of their wealth. After the birth of his daughter this fall, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan wrote her a letter (and posted it on Facebook, of course). In covering the contents of the letter, the New York Times got the headline totally wrong: “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares for Charity.” The paper later clarified that it’s not a charity but an LLC – a “$45 billion tax loophole,” some suggested. Headlines from Gawker: “Mark Zuckerberg Will Donate Massive Fortune to Own Blinkered Worldview.” And from Rolin Moe: “You’re Not an Asshole, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re Just Wrong..”

Among the projects that the new Zuckerberg Chan Initiative will fund: “personalized learning” (whatever the hell that means).

Zuckerberg’s interest in such a thing is no doubt connected to investments that he’s already made – in the private school AltSchool, for example. And in September, Facebook announced that it had been working on building software for the Summit charter school chain. “Facebook’s move into education may be unexpected, but it seems to be sincere,” wrote The Verge’s Casey Newton about the collaboration in an article that’s not much more than a “longform expanded version of the Facebook press release.”

Joining Gates and Zuckerberg in venture philanthropy is Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow. Her organization, the Emerson Collective, announced a campaign – XQ: The Super School Project – to get folks to “rethink high school.” 5 of the “best ideas” will receive a share of the $50 million Jobs has earmarked for the project. The Emerson Collective also invested in AltSchool and Udacity this year to give you an idea of what “best ideas” might look like.

“I can conceive of no greater mistake… than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice” – William Jewett Tucker"



"All the Best Ed-Tech Narratives Money Can Buy

All this business. All this disruptive innovation. It’s just magnific… Wait, what? Academic research challenging Clayton Christensen’s famous business school concept outlined in The Innovator’s Dilemma and applied to education in Disrupting Class and The Innovative University and invoked by just about every ed-tech entrepreneur and investor ever? Oh yes please.

Jill Lepore had already skewered the idea in The New Yorker last year. I wrote a little something on the topic back in 2013.

But now, as The Chronicle of Education wrote in September,
a new paper, the most extensive test yet of Christensen’s theory, may prove more difficult to dismiss. Andrew A. King, a professor at the Dartmouth College business school, and Baljir Baatartogtokh, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, spent two years digging into disruption, interviewing scores of experts, trying to determine whether 77 of Christensen’s own examples conformed to his theory, studies involving big names like Ford, McDonald’s, and Google, along with lesser-known makers of blood-glucose meters and blended plastics. Only a tiny minority – 9 percent – fit Christensen’s criteria. Disruption is real but rare, King and Baatartogtokh conclude, which suggests that it’s at best a marginally useful explanation of how innovation happens.

King says he’s not out to take down Christensen, although that may be what he’s done. Instead, he wants to prove a point. “A theory is like a weed,” King says. “Unless it is pruned back by empirical testing, it will grow to fill any void.”

Much like the business of ed-tech…"
philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  capitalism  siliconvalley  audreywatters  2015  edtech  education  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  corruption  policy  billgates  gatesfoundation  facebook  markzuckerberg  priscillachan  power  influence  democracy  melindagates  williamjewett  charity  justice  technology  johncassidy  rolinmoe  zuckerbergchaninitiative  broadfoundation  elibroad  altschool  summitcharterschools  udacity  emersoncollective  venturephilanthropy  vc  disruption  disruptiveinnovation  innovation  claytonchristensen  andrewking  baljirbaatartogtokh  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control  charterschools 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Education Reform: A National Delusion | Steve Nelson
"As I watch the education "debate" in America I wonder if we have simply lost our minds. In the cacophony of reform chatter -- online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents -- one can barely hear the children crying out: "Pay attention to us!"

None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in America's international education rankings. Every bit of education reform -- every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things -- is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.

As Pogo wisely noted, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We did this to our children and our schools.

We did this by choosing to see schools as instructional factories, beginning in the early 20th century.

We did this by swallowing the obscene notion that schools and colleges are businesses and children are consumers.

We did this by believing in the infallibility of free enterprise, by pretending America is a meritocracy, and by ignoring the pernicious effects of unrelenting racism.

We did this by believing that children are widgets and economy of scale is both possible and desirable.

We did this by acting as though reality and the digital representation of reality are the same thing.

We did this by demeaning the teaching profession.

We did this by allowing poverty and despair to shatter families.

We did this by blaming these families for the poverty and despair we inflicted on them.

We did this by allowing school buildings to deteriorate, by removing the most enlivening parts of the school day, by feeding our children junk food.

We did this by failing to properly fund schools, making them dependent on shrinking property taxes and by shifting the costs of federal mandates to resource-strapped states and local communities.

We did this by handcuffing teachers with idiotic policies, constant test preparation and professional insecurity.

America's children need our attention, not Pearson's lousy tests or charter schools' colorful banners and cute little uniforms that make kids look like management trainees.

America's teachers need our support, our admiration, and the freedom to teach and love children.

The truth is that our children need our attention, not political platitudes and more TED talks.

The deterioration began in earnest with the dangerously affable Ronald Reagan, whose "aw shucks" dismantling of the social contract has triggered 30 years of social decline, except for the most privileged among us. The verdict is in. The consequence of trickle down economics has been tens of millions of American families having some pretty nasty stuff dripping on them.

Education was already in trouble and then, beginning in 2001 with the ironically named No Child Left Behind Act (which has left almost all children behind), the decline accelerated. When a bad policy fails, just rename it. In a nation where "branding" reigns supreme, you get Race to the Top. It's changing the paint color on a Yugo and expecting it to drive like a Lamborghini.

In the 13 years since NCLB there has been no -- zero, nada -- progress in education. Most claims of improvement can be attributed to changing the standards or shifting kids from one place to another -- educational gerrymandering. We've reduced education to dull test-prep and we can't even get improved results on the tests we prep for! That is a remarkable failure.

Doing meaningful education with the most advantaged kids and ample resources is challenging enough with classes of 20. Doing meaningful work with children in communities we have decimated through greed and neglect might require classes of 10 or fewer. When will Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and other education reformers recommend that?

No, that's not forthcoming. Their solution is more iPads and trying to fatten up little Hansel and Gretel by weighing them more often. Pearson will make the scales.

Only in contemporary America can a humanitarian crisis be just another way to make a buck."
2014  stevenelson  education  publicschools  nclb  rttt  arneduncan  edreform  gatesfoundation  broadfoundation  elibroad  commoncore  poverty  billgates  michellerhee  attention  parenting  teaching  learning  politics  policy  pearson  classsize  charterschools 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Students For Education Reform? Not the Change We Need | Education on GOOD
"It all began in early August of this year. Stephanie Rivera, a student at Rutgers University and future teacher, published a gutsy, investigative piece uncovering the lunacy behind Students for Education Reform, an organization founded by two Princeton students, Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin. I highly suggest you read it yourself, but the commentary struck a profound chord with me for a number of reasons.

SFER has rolled out its corporate reform agenda onto over a hundred college campuses across the nation, which includes defending the takeover of public schools by charters and teacher evaluation systems that tie salaries to test scores. Don't believe me? Bellinger and Morin, marionettes of the likes of Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, and Eli Broad, are now forcing some chapters to sign onto agreements that they carry out the mission of SFER—this was, not surprisingly, uncovered by Rivera.

SFER's primary mission is to close the achievement gap, but as education historian Camika Royal writes (referring to those who generally use the term), the organization only "speaks of academic outcomes, not the conditions that led to those outcomes, nor does it acknowledge that the outcomes are a consequence of those conditions." Where do they address on their site the putrid effects of poverty on schooling? They don't."



"In terms of funding, Education Reform Now gave SFER and Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst—or as I like to call it StudentsLast—over $1.6 million in 2010. Remember, this is an organization whose PAC is DFER, a group bankrolled by Wall Street hedge-fund titans, moguls, and a number of billionaires. That's not to mention that SFER's board members include evangelists of KIPP and Teach for America. Many of these college students do not realize they are literally being bought out. Both Bellinger and Morin are in bed with these organizations."



"A question I'd like to ask is: What is in the water at Princeton University? Two epitomes of failure in educational change—first Teach for America and now Students for Education Reform. Please, make it stop.

Educators, administrators, parents, I beg for you to not think for a second that SFER represents the voice of students. It doesn't. It is instead a mob of baby sheep, educated in obedience and submission, kowtowing to the forces that seek to obliterate public education. As a student, it's shameful and degrading watching these delinquents bash the very people who educated them, call for evaluations that reduce children to numbers, and allow for corporations and billionaires to wither away our democracy. It's a national disgrace.

Longtime teacher Susan Ohanian put it beautifully, "Either you join the revolution or you stand against the needs of children and democracy." Wake the hell up, America."
2013  nikhilgoyal  studentsforeducationreform  edreform  stephanierivera  catahrinebellinger  alexismorin  princeton  joelklein  michellerhee  wendykopp  kipp  tfa  elibroad  sfer  danagoldsteinsusanohanian  privatization  povery  schools  education  policy  testing  standardizetesting  teachforamerica  charterschools 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Ten Most Wanted Enemies of American Public Education’s School Leadership ["Elitist conservatives; neoliberal, free marketeers and new public management gurus, the goo goos; cranks, crack pots, and commie hunters"]
"Eli Broad’s millions are going towards a top-down corporate takeover of urban school systems…<br />
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Arne Duncan…a captive of the neo-liberal“ boxed” thinking about school improvement…<br />
<br />
Chester E. Finn, Jr.- Chester “Checker” Finn continues to push his long time neo-liberal ideology…<br />
<br />
Bill Bennett is a Republican party stalwart with very deep ties to the neo-liberal education agenda…<br />
<br />
Frederick M. Hess proffers the tried and true neo-liberal ideology in education…<br />
<br />
Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. believes public education can be improved by the way he ran IBM…<br />
<br />
Charles Murray has helped propagate the dogma of racial superiority in education…<br />
<br />
David Horowitz is…a member of the extreme right…a populist demagogue…<br />
<br />
Arthur Levine…“reforms” proffer nothing new…<br />
<br />
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.…whose efforts to capture the “core curriculum” are futile efforts to preserve white privilege in a burgeoning multi-racial & multi-cultural society…"
via:lukeneff  reform  education  schoolreform  2011  elibroad  arneduncan  chesterfinn  billbennett  frederickhess  louisgerstner  charlesmurray  davidhorowitz  arthurlevine  edhirsch  criticaltheory  criticalpedagogy  deschooling  unschooling  corporatism  privatization  neoliberalism  policy  politics 
july 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The art of seeing (Part III) Visiting Delphi
"…we must help students find their own work/study environments, rather than organize that for them. That we must help them discover what creates "privacy" for themselves, rather than enforce group silence…help students learn to construct their own scheduling systems…

When I say I want our students to be creators, not consumers, I mean it. I want to "graduate" students who are capable of creating their own workplaces, their own learning habits, and most importantly, their own solutions to their problems and the problems of our world…

We must create environments which support creation of the new. If our school design remains "the shelf" - rooms lined up according to age and/or pre-determined topic... If our school schedule remains "the shelf" - time lined up by topic and pre-determined function... If our assessment measures what we expect rather than what might be imagined... we are failing to see the future and we are - very literally - blinding our students."
irasocol  2011  education  future  unschooling  deschooling  democraticschools  democracy  innovation  problemsolving  elibroad  arneduncan  billgates  statusquo  wealth  privilege  learning  self-directedlearning  self-directed  technology  lcproject  schools  schooling  schooldesign  kinect  open  openness 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Outrage of the Week - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"agreement btwn Gates & Pearson Foundation[s] to write nation's curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American ed to them? Why would we outsource nation's curriculum to for-profit publishing & test-making corp based in London? Does Gates get to write national curriculum because he's richest man in US? We know his foundation is investing heavily in promoting Common Core standards…will [now] write K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning & video gaming…good for tech sector, but is it good for nation's schools?…Gates & Eli Broad Foundation[s], both…maintain pretense of being Democrats &/or liberals, have given millions to…Jeb Bush's foundation…promoting vouchers, charters, online learning, test-based accountability, & whole panoply of corporate reform strategies intended to weaken public ed & remove teachers' job protections…

…scariest thought…Obama admin welcomes corporatization of public ed. Not only welcomes rise of ed entrepreneurialism, but encourages it."
education  reform  2011  pearson  gatesfoundation  billgates  jebbush  elibroad  broadfoundation  publicschools  publiceducation  barackobama  arneduncan  forprofit  technology  gamification  commoncore  nationalcurriculum  curriculum  accountability  onlinelearning  corporatization  corporations  corruption  policy  politics  testing  money  influence  dianeravitch  charitableindustrialcomplex  corporatism  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
may 2011 by robertogreco
A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s programs and policies « Parents Across America
"Eli Broad is a wealthy individual, accountable to no one but himself, who wields vast power over our public schools. Parents and community members should be aware of the extent to which the he and his foundation influence educational policies in districts throughout the country, through Broad-funded advocacy groups, Broad-sponsored experiments and reports, and the placement of Broad-trained school leaders, administrators and superintendents.<br />
<br />
Parents Across America considers Broad’s influence to be inherently undemocratic, as it disenfranchises parents and other stakeholders in an effort to privatize our public schools and imposes corporate-style policies without our consent. We strongly oppose allowing our nation’s education policy to be driven by billionaires who have no education expertise, who do not send their own children to public schools, and whose particular biases and policy preferences are damaging our children’s ability to receive a quality education."
elibroad  broadacademy  broadfoundation  billgates  waltonfamily  schools  policy  publicpolicy  education  superintendants  broadsuperintendants  politics  money  administration  arneduncan  reform  2011  influence 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy
"Can anything stop foundation enablers? After 5 or 10 more years, the mess they’re making in public schooling might be so undeniable that they’ll say, “Oops, that didn’t work” & step aside. But damage might be irreparable: 1000s of closed schools, worse conditions in those open, an extreme degree of “teaching to test,” demoralized teachers, rampant corruption by private mgmt companies, 1000s of failed charter schools, & more low-income kids w/out good education. Who could possibly clean up mess?

All children should have access to a good public school. & public schools should be run by officials who answer to voters. Gates, Broad, & Walton answer to no one. Tax payers still fund more than 99% of K–12 education. Private foundations should not be setting public policy for them. Private money should not be producing what amounts to false advertising for a faulty product. The imperious overreaching of the Big 3 undermines democracy just as surely as it damages public education."
education  politics  poverty  philanthropy  reform  elibroad  billgates  gatesfoundation  money  policy  influence  waltonfamily  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
january 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Designed to Fail - Education in America: Part Five
"If those who seek to follow the Arne Duncan model of school reform want to argue with me about the inherent colonialism/racism of their plans, then perhaps they should begin by discussing why they won't embrace "real reform" - the re-design of our educational system.…No tests. No grading. No age-based grades. Few classrooms. Few classes. Teacher and learner agency. No core curriculum. No particular time schedule. The complete opposite of RheEducation…The concepts were student empowerment, teacher freedom, community, and authentic assessment…The political problem is that embracing these known understandings of education requires abandoning the filtering system of "education" we have used in America since the Civil War. Embracing these ideas would require that we - as a society - elevate teachers in pay and respect to or above the level of lawyers, bankers, and perhaps medical doctors."
irasocol  education  history  us  newrochellehighschool  grades  grading  openschools  schools  agesegregation  studentdirected  freedom  equality  elitism  seymourpapert  inequality  wealth  standards  standardizedtesting  larrycuban  markzuckerberg  billgates  elibroad  dianeravitch  society  perpetuation  culture  power  policy  politics  children  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  waitingforsuperman  williamalcott  incomegap  teaching  learning  assessment  neilpostman  unions  salaries  racism  michellerhee  charterschools 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Durty Handz « EdVox [via: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2010/07/he-got-broad-prize-we-got-problem.html]
"To paraphrase Malcolm X: “If I’m following a general, and he’s leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a Broad award before the war is over.”"
nycs  publicschools  schools  education  policy  malcolmx  elibroad  money  politics  suspicion  michaelbloomberg  joelklein 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Answer Sheet - Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)
"*Learning, real learning—trying to make more sense of what’s happening—is as natural & satisfying as breathing. If your big reform idea requires laws, mandates, penalties, bribes, or other kinds of external pressure to make it work, it won’t. You can lead the horse to water, & you can force it to look like it’s drinking, but you can’t make it drink."

[via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-most-comprehensive-awesome-189-words-ever-written-about-school/ ]
curriculum  reform  criticalthinking  policy  education  learning  tcsnmy  progressive  standards  standardizedtesting  testing  rttt  nclb  motivation  elibroad  billgates  malcolmgladwell  wealth  influence  money  collaboration  understanding  humans  lcproject  deschooling  unschooling  teaching  commoncore  accountability  autonomy  righthererightnow  hereandnow  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  toshare  topost  interdisciplinary  marionbrady 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Why Business Leaders Should Not Be in the Driver's Seat - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Living as we do in an age when test scores are so easily manipulated & so often fraudulent, we should proceed with caution before using them to determine the fate of students, teachers, principals, & schools. I give Mssrs. Ford, Gerstner, & Broad the benefit of the doubt: They think that school data are as meaningful as a profit-&-loss statement or a price-to-earnings ratio. Presumably, they don't realize that what is measured and can be measured may not be the most important things that happen in schools. Where I do not give them the benefit of the doubt is that they assume that the Race to the Top is "enforcing academic standards." That is simply not true. In fact, it is sad or laughable, I am not sure which. The main themes of RTTT are privatization via charters & evaluation via phony test scores. How this translates into "rigorous standards" defies my understanding. Nor do I admire their belief that schools will get dramatically better if they compete, just like businesses do..."
education  business  policy  assessment  politics  rttt  standardizedtesting  testing  data  reform  barackobama  elibroad  schools  publicschools  dianeravitch 
january 2010 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 12.12.09: Art Funding or Arts Funding
"I sense that in the long run there is a greater value for humanity in empowering folks to make and create than there is in teaching them the canon, the great works and the masterpieces. In my opinion, it’s more important that someone learn to make music, to draw, photograph, write or create in any form than it is for them to understand and appreciate Picasso, Warhol or Bill Shakespeare — to say nothing of opry. In the long term it doesn’t matter if students become writers, artists or musicians — though a few might. It's more important that they are able to understand the process of creation, experimentation and discovery — which can then be applied to anything they do, as those processes, deep down, are all similar. It’s an investment in fluorescence."
art  politics  music  government  arts  museums  davidbyrne  funding  elibroad  tcsnmy  creativity  innovation  human  humanity  well-being 
december 2009 by robertogreco

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