"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 12.11.11

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 12.11.11.  Highlighted today:

  • Another story comparing education providers to living in the Wild, Wild West to make money , rather than living there to provide better education;
  • The tipping over of the education pyramid;
  • An analogy on how the Common Core standards are akin to Obamacare and the proposal of one group to stop them.

Not only are businessmen like Bill Gates and convicted hedge fund managers like Michael Milken setting policies and direction for education, so are social networkers.  From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Reid Hoffman and Matt Cohler, two of Silicon Valley’s social-networking pioneers, are throwing their hats into the education ring.

The entrepreneurs-turned-venture capitalists today led a $15 million investment in Edmodo, a free learning site for teachers and students that claims almost 5 million registered users. The cash pile, from Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital, gives the management team the runway to hire developers and add products without doing the one thing they prefer not to talk about: making money.

Rob Hutter, the company’s chairman, said the new financing gives the company “several years” to build and expand the product without worrying about generating revenue. He and Borg are looking for developers who are passionate about education and want to build something that they say is helping change education. (emphasis added)

Of course, venture capitalists don’t invest in startups unless they see the opportunity to make several times their money back, and Greylock and Benchmark have been among the most successful firms in that regard. 

Question:  How are these social networkers (investors) helping to "change education"?  The delivery of providing education is what they are changing, not the education itself.  Remember, the education (WHAT students are learning) is controlled by the Federal Government, the NGA and the CCSSO.  These venture capitalists are providing the vehicles to deliver education, not crafting the core of what students are learning.  Remember what Scott Joftus said about education:

“You know we’re in a new era when school turnaround firms in the U.S. are being funded out of the Middle East,” Joftus said. “To me, that says there’s money to be made. I call this period the Wild West in education.” 

There IS money to be made in education reform but is it really "for the kids"?  If investors and developers are delivering educational "reform" that  is faulty and insufficient at is core, it doesn't matter how it's presented.  


Education Week reports on the "education pyramid".  The pyramid is:

the prevailing model of ed policy decision-making, illustrated in The Mitchell 20 film: a hierarchical pyramid, with decision-making power concentrated at the peak--Congress and the Department of Education-- flowing down through layers and layers of state bureaucracy, district offices and administrators, and ending up on the shoulders of teachers.

 The author envisions what it might be like if that pyramid is turned on its side and the power would flow horizontally so teachers would have more voice (megaphones) in the actual teaching of children.

I would add additional stakeholders to the pyramid.  Parents and taxpayers need admittance into that pyramid and a turn at the megaphone.  Everyone wants a seat at the table but parents and taxpayers seem to never be mentioned as an important stakeholder.  After all, they are the ones paying for the education and they provide the human capital necessary to staff these publicly funded halls of learning.


Will conservatives finally push back on the educational version of Obamacare? Why haven't more legislators made the connection the educational reforms are as constitutionally egregious as the health care plan?  From Heritage and its reporting on model legislation waiting for adoption by ALEC:

For the past two years, the Obama Education Department has been supporting an effort to implement national education standards and tests. The national standards push, which will affect all public schools, has been underway outside the normal legislative process. At least (to quote Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute) Obamacare went through Congress.

It’s time for state leaders to stand up to strong-arming from Washington, instead of faulting conservative organizations for pushing back on this latest federal overreach. A nationalization of education is underway, and unless conservatives work to fight Washington’s power grab, Obamacare won’t be the only overreach we’ll have to live under.


Educational quote for the week:

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

H. G. Wells (1866 - 1946), Outline of History (1920)

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