Monday, June 16, 2014

Ed Shorts: June Edition

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 3:30 PM

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Too many stories are piling up in the "good intentions" corner of my desktop. I know I'm not going to get to them individually as I always plan to, so here they are in brief, with links so you can learn more if you wish.

Paper is alive and well for AZ high stakes testing. High tech is creeping slowly into Arizona's schools, so slowly that an estimated 50 percent of kids will take their high stakes tests with paper and pencil. It'll cost more for the paper version, something like $5 to $10 extra per student. Of course, all of this is for a test to be named later, since Arizona hasn't chosen which test it's going to subject its children to give to its students.

Bill Gates: Let's not count the tests for two years. Common Core's sugar daddy is pulling one of those high tech company moves where they delay the roll-out of a new product for months or years. In this case, the product is already out there — the Common Core standards and the high stakes tests to measure them — but now the Gates Foundation is saying, let's put a two year moratorium on using the results of the tests for evaluation. I guess he decided this is the beta version.

Bill Gates, Common Core sugar daddy. The Gates Foundation combined more than $200 million with marketing guile to make Common Core into an inevitability and turn most states into early adopters of standards and tests they knew little about. It's one example of the way money is distorting the direction K-12 education is moving. The $160 million a year from the Walton (Walmart) Foundation is another example, and there are plenty more (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to New Jersey to fund a questionable educational scheme). Because after all, who knows more about education than billionaires?

Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin talk rant about Common Core at a theater near you. Go to the El Con, Park Place or Century Oro Valley theater July 22, plunk down 20 bucks, and you can spend two hours being part of "A LIVE interactive experience during which cinema audiences will actively engage with Glenn Beck and other experts as a comprehensive plan to fight back against Common Core is crafted in real time." Note: Don't bother looking for me. I won't be there.

Starbucks teams with ASU to give online college education to employees. Starbucks treats its employees better than most companies with lots of low wage and part time workers. Here's another example: the opportunity for Starbucks workers to take online courses from Arizona State University, paid for all or in part by the corporation. I have plenty of qualms about online coursework as mass education, but there are situations where it can add real value to people's lives, and this may be one of them. Time will tell.
(UPDATE: Looks like the program has some unpublicized problems, like making students complete online courses totaling 21 credits before they're reimbursed. More here.)

Teacher tenure may be history in California. A California judge ruled against teacher tenure in Vergara v. California, arguing that poor and minority students are subjected to bad teachers who can't be fired, which violates the students' civil rights. The case will be appealed by groups who support tenure while anti-tenure groups copy it in other states.

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