Archive for October, 2017

Personalized Learning Requires a Change of Thinking About Time

October 31, 2017 Comments off

Earlier this month, Julia Freeland Fisher published a thought provoking article for the Christensen Institute Newsletter suggesting that personalized learning can only work if educators and policy makers shed their notions about time. Ms. Fisher notes that in many cases when an innovative technology is introduced, instead of replacing and old way of doing business the organization adds a new layer… in much the same way a bookkeeper who worked for me in the early 1980s persisted in keeping books in a handwritten ledger at the same time as she entered data on the “newfangled” computer. She writes about how this applies to schools who are introducing personalized learning:

This is especially true for traditional systems that may be aiming to adopt new approaches to teaching and learning but less willing to do away with legacy structures. Innovation theory shows us that in industry after industry, existing organizations often default to hybrid innovations that combine new technologies or approaches with old ways of doing business. Put differently, rather than actually making any real tradeoffs, organizations may start doing new things without stopping doing old things.

Ms. Fisher contends that personalized learning that is enhanced by technology will only work if schools abandon one of their deeply held legacies: the time paradigm.

Although schools may manage to add more time on the margins, personalized learning at scale will likely require a massive rethinking of how schools use time, alongside pursuing new efficiencies that can save time. I was reminded of this while reading Silicon Schools’ recent report on its past five years supporting new and redesigned schools in the California Bay Area. In it, the fund’s leaders share actionable insights about the promise and pitfalls of personalized approaches. Among these takeaways, the word “time” appears a total of 39 times in the report’s 27 pages.

Specifically, the report highlights a vital reality on the ground: how schools use time is a balancing act. The report enumerates tradeoffs schools personalizing learning have had to weigh: how much time students should spend working on their own versus in groups; how much time students should be in front of screens versus offline; how much time students should work on content that is at versus above their current instructional level.

Ms. Fisher outlines several ways time can be used more efficiently and different kinds of software products that can facilitate the different uses of time. But ultimately, Ms. Fisher’s advocacy for changing the time paradigm falls short of the mark in one important aspect: she still implies that time will be constant for learners batched in age cohorts. If schools want to truly personalize learning they will need to abandon the legacy structure that insists on grouping students in age cohorts and having them complete curricula based on moving in a lockstep time frame based on objectives linked to those cohorts. Technology makes this possible… but the mental model of the factory school must be abandoned before it can take place.

Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos: Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage

October 30, 2017 Comments off

Blogger Steve Singer makes a strong case for Gates’ and DeVos’ efforts to undercut “government schools” based on their faith in technology and the marketplace… faith that is clearly misplaced and disproven… 

Source: Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos: Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage

Categories: Uncategorized

Big OOPS! Chicago Charter Schools Hiring Public School Personnel Blacklisted by Public Schools

October 30, 2017 Comments off

Chicago Tribune writer Juan Perez reports that as of last December, Chicago charter schools had 163 staff members on board who had been blacklisted by the Chicago public school system… and in the article seemed to imply that this was a problem for the public schoolsHere are the details from the opening paragraphs of Mr. Perez’ article:

More than 160 Chicago Public Schools employees who were barred from the district because of alleged abuse, misconduct or poor performance were found working in new jobs at city charter and contract schools last year, according to a report from the district’s inspector general.

The list included three workers who were fired or resigned and blocked from being re-hired at CPS because of sexual abuse accusations, according to the report, which was released Tuesday. Twenty-two were put on a “Do Not Hire” list “due to improper corporal punishment or physical abuse of students,” according to the report.

Nearly 80 others were blocked from returning to the district due to incompetence or violating school rules. That included a list of probationary teachers who were blocked from future employment at CPS because of poor performance.

The 163 unidentified employees — 98 of them teachers — represented a small fraction of the workforce at the city’s publicly funded but independently operated charter and contract schools, the reported noted.

But Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office also found that CPS had no system for those schools to determine if their potential employees had been blacklisted by CPS with the “Do Not Hire” designation. Despite preliminary steps taken to fix the problem, the IG’s office said CPS has not finalized a policy on how to handle such situations.

The report did not name schools that hired the former district employees. Officials from three of the city’s largest charter school operators either declined to comment on Schuler’s report or said their schools conduct criminal background checks but don’t have access to CPS’ list of prohibited employees.

Mr. Perez eventually made a point that effectively exonerates CPS… but this points appear at the end of the article:

One challenge, Schuler noted, is that the law allows charter schools “considerable latitude” on their hiring decisions.

State law prohibits schools from hiring candidates who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses. CPS also elects to bar a range of other offenders from being hired, though charter schools are not required to follow suit.

“Although the Board decides not to hire those individuals, it does not have a statutory basis to require charter schools to defer to the Board’s conclusions about the risks presented by those individuals,” Schuler’s office said.

The Illinois State legislature, like so many others across the country, favors deregulation. But, as this article unwittingly notes, deregulation in hiring practices can have some deleterious consequences for children. When “considerable latitude” in hiring means that some charter operators don’t even bother to call the previous employer, please don’t blame the previous employer for the problem! The legislature’s mania for deregulation should not free for-profit charters from the responsibility of hiring only qualified candidates and should certainly NOT free them from the responsibility for hiring sex offenders!