For those who don’t think the privatization of public education MIGHT be an issue in 2016, here’s one candidates take on how to reform public education: de-fund it and introduce vouchers that can be used for parochial schools. And Scott Walker is advocating the same approach in WI…
I know Bernie Sanders opposes ANY privatization and, along with many others, await a clear stance from his main opponent, Hillary Clinton.
This article explains how the current system is rigged against those who must borrow money to go to college. What is DOESN’T emphasize is:
- The cuts to colleges at the state level have made it more expensive for students to get post-secondary schooling without getting a loan
- The USDOE is a major beneficiary: if the USDOE lost the $101,000,000,000 generated since the advent of quantitative easing it would be in difficult straits
- Because of the revenue it receives, the USDOE cannot be an advocate for indebted students. Indeed, USDOE is effectively contributing to the stress student debtors face by employing loan collectors to help support itself
- The privatization of public loans places shareholders at the forefront, not the students.
- The whole student loan structure moves money upward: the banksters get lots of guaranteed money while the striving students get race-to-the-bottom wages and must pay outlandishly high interest rates on their loans
The answer is either a direct infusion of funds into publicly funded colleges or an indirect infusion of funds by forgiving loans issued for bogus degree programs and/or lowering interest rates to a manageable level.
I wish MaryEllen Elia well… but based on the article in the NYTimes announcing her appointment, I sense that in the coming weeks I may be finding some areas of serious disagreement with her OR she may be finding herself in disagreement with the Regents and/or the Governor.
In Ms. Elia’s most recent assignment as Superintendent of Hillsborough County Superintendent in FL, she was the recipient of a $100,000,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to improve the teacher evaluation system. Under the new system she implemented, 40 percent of teachers’ evaluations were based on “…their students’ improvement on tests” (VAM), and 60 percent was based on “….observations by principals and peers“. During Ms. Elia’s ten year tenure she Hillsborough also instituted a merit pay system that “…allowed some new teachers to earn more than veteran teachers”. These “reforms” would clearly warm the hearts of the Regents and Governor Cuomo. However, Ms. Elia was also part of “…a group of Florida superintendents who asked the State Board of Education to suspend consequences for schools and students in the first year of the tests“, presumably because the transition was too fast. THAT position would contradict the previous Commissioner’s stance and would fly in the face of the Governor’s impatience. Her willingness to advocate for a phasing in DID win her the qualified support of the union leadership in NYS:
The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, offered tempered praise, saying in a statement that while the union was “opposed to high-stakes testing” and grading teachers on students’ test performance, “even when MaryEllen applied it as required under Florida law, she made collaboration her mantra.”
If past actions are the best predictor of her future, Ms. Elia is more likely to lose Randi Weingarten’s support than the Regent’s support… and VAM is likely to proceed on schedule in NYS. This paragraph in the Times article explains why:
She will make these decisions against a backdrop of low test scores, well-funded special-interest groups, angry parents and a State Legislature that has become more active on education policy and has been in conflict with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The Times may believe that the “well funded special interest groups” are supportive of teachers… but anyone keeping a balance sheet knows that the for-profit charter lobby has much more money than the unions and much more support in the legislature than those pesky parents who want their public schools to provide something more than test preparation exercises. I hope I’m wrong about VAM… but I’m afraid money will trump common sense and the needs of children.
Cathy O’Neil takes down VAM and other bogus algorithms used to provide false precision to decisions that require thoughtful reflection .
Originally posted on mathbabe:
Slate recently published a piece entitled You Can’t Handle the (Algorithmic) Truth, written by Adam Elkus, a Ph.D. student in computational social science at George Mason University (hat tip Chris Wiggins).
In it, Elkus criticizes those who criticize unaccountable algorithms. He suggests that algorithms are simply the natural placeholders of bureaucracy, and we should aim our hatred at bureaucracy instead of algorithms. In his conclusion he goes further in defending the machines:
If computers implementing some larger social value, preference, or structure we take for granted offends us, perhaps we should do something about the value, preference, or structure that motivates the algorithm. After all, algorithms can be reprogrammed. It is much harder—but not impossible—to recode social systems and institutions than computers. Perhaps the humans who refuse to act for what they believe in while raising fear about computers are the real ones responsible for the decline of our…
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The Google Alert on Public Education occasionally includes some conspiratorial articles about education policy, and today’s aggregation of articles included one from WND titled “Public Schools Called “Gigantic Criminal Enterprise””. Not being familiar with WND, I clicked on the article expecting it to be about the for-profit charter school movement… but I was way off base! It seems that the criminal activity involves “globalists” who are intentionally dumbing down America’s schools to achieve “planetary totalitarianism”.
How are the socialist utopians accomplishing their goal of intellectual enslavement? Writers Alex Newman and Samuel Blumenfeld have a list of ways:
- “…progressive education gurus have caused dyslexia and other learning disabilities by teaching children to read using the “whole word” method“ … instead of phonics and as a result of this “quackery” Americans “…won’t even be able to bypass the propaganda and get a book, get the Bible, get the Constitution, get the Declaration of Independence and read it”.
- through the use of “…“cooperative learning” (which) is evidence of communist influence in the classrooms.” The authors view cooperative learning’s small group approach where all in the group “...receive the same grade for their work, even if they took a quiz or test separately” as a “...collectivist mindset (that) will come in handy in the new global society”
- through the teaching of “...evolution and secular humanist doctrines“ which erode the students’ religious beliefs, beliefs that a totalitarian society destroys.
- by collecting massive amounts of personal information about students, information that the USDOE is using to develop “...massive dossiers on every student in the country, in the government schools, including information that parents wouldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams…“
- by implementing the Common Core, which many teachers are rejecting because it prevents them from teaching students properly.
Newman and Blumenfeld see education as a key to pushing back against this movement toward planetary totalitarianism:
“Education is really at the heart of it, because if you don’t have a dumbed-down population, if you don’t have a population that’s sufficiently indoctrinated into this nonsense, it’ll never fly,” Newman said. “And so education, we consider, is really at the heart of this globalist effort to really, to be blunt about it, enslave the world. Without the education system, it would never be possible. Without mass-producing illiterates and collectivists, they could never build something like this.”
As you have probably determined by now, WND is an ultra-conservative web site… and yet many of the assertions could come from Truthdig’s Chris Hedges or Diane Ravitch or even George Orwell. I recall taking a Political Science course in college where the teacher contended that political views were not linear but circular. That is the views of extreme conservatives and extreme liberals often overlapped and while both were fearful of totalitarianism both wanted to see their perspectives embraced by society as a whole. The final paragraphs of this article, which could have been taken from a Bernie Sanders campaign speech, reinforce this idea:
Newman said it’s important for people to educate themselves about what’s going on and to organize within their communities, because as more Americans become aware of the globalists’ plans (NOTE: insert “oligarchs’ plans” here), they will be better able to resist.
“We’re going to have a great opportunity here to put a stop to all this,” Newman promised. “And if we miss it, it’s going to be a disaster for humanity, but if we seize it, it would be absolutely wonderful and amazing.”
Newman longs for the day when the American people collectively wake up, put their foot down and deliver this message: “Enough of this! We’re going to keep our rights. We’re going to keep our nation, thank you very much. We’re going to educate our children. We’re not going to let you dumb them down, and we’re not going to have your New World Order (NOTE: Insert “plutocracy” here). Take a hike, you’re a criminal, that’s enough.”
Newman is right: enough IS enough… we need to make certain that the governance of public education is returned to its community roots and not taken over by business, we need to get our children to ask probing questions and seek the truth, and we need to restore the opportunity for any child in our country to reach their full potential…. and this might be a place where the view of a “secular socialist Utopian” overlaps with that of a fundamentalist conservative.