Elephant in the Room: It’s the Tech Takeover, NOT Common Core

By Nancy Bailey| Twitter: @NancyEBailey1 | Originally published on Nancy Bailey’s Education Website nancyebailey.com | 2018| Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Syndication made possible through Patreon.

By Nancy Bailey

We are in danger of losing public schools and it’s all about “disruption” and technology. The federal government is leading the way.

Common Core State Standards were unproven and costly. I hate what Common Core did to children. Common Core and other school problems are still worth discussing.

But technology and its overwhelming impact on children is what will haunt us forever if we don’t focus on it now! It can be confusing, but it is critical to read as much about it as we can, and pay attention to what’s happening also at the state and local levels when it comes to schools.

Common Core diverts our attention.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The Atlanta Constitution’s, Maureen Downey, published an informative article “Betsy Devos: Common Core is Dead at U.S. Department of Education.” And she printed the speech DeVos gave. Many are focusing on Common Core. Did DeVos really mean it’s dead?

But the critical part of that speech is not about Common Core. The most troubling aspects are what DeVos says about technology and schools. Downey overlooks it too and doesn’t even mention technology in her tags.

Here are the words from that speech by DeVos that stood out as most important.

It’s about educational freedom! Freedom from Washington mandates. Freedom from centralized control. Freedom from a one-size-fits-all mentality. Freedom from “the system.”

Which leads to my final point: if America’s students are to be prepared, we must rethink school.

Why do we group students by age?

Why do schools close for the summer?    

Why must the school day start with the rise of the sun?

Why are schools assigned by your address?

Why do students have to go to a school building in the first place?

Why is choice only available to those who can buy their way out? Or buy their way in?

Why can’t a student learn at his or her own pace?

Why isn’t technology more widely embraced in schools?

Why do we limit what a student can learn based upon the faculty and facilities available?

Why?

Some of these questions are thought worthy. But there’s much more to what DeVos and her ilk are planning.

DeVos is criticized for having little experience and understanding of children and education. But she is about destroying public schools through technology! A lot of powerful people back her, and she laid it all out glowingly in her speech.

This is about ending public schools as we know them. No more teachers. No more brick-and-mortar buildings.

DeVos is right about one thing. She says I’m well aware that change — the unknown – can be scary.

We should be scared! We have no idea what chaos there will be with this kind of schooling. If you can even call it schooling.

Here are just a few concerns:

  • No research, thus far, shows any advantage to students learning only by technology. They often do worse the more they are on computers.
  • DeVos knows little about education and child development. But she’s not alone. Look at the backgrounds of those who push a tech transformation. Few ever worked with children. They work for companies and foundations.
  • If you’re a public school teacher and believe your purpose is to conform to those devices in your classrooms, you are being deceived. Ask yourselves who (or what) is in charge of what you do.
  • Consider all the privacy concerns of so much student information put online.
  • Can we really throw 90% of students who attend public school out on the streets to adequately learn online and expect them to later function in society?
  • Do we want students to be tested nonstop on computers?
  • DeVos criticizes her job. Of course! With no public schools there will be no need for oversight.
  • Do parents really want their children in online charter warehouses without teachers?
  • If parents get vouchers, what private schools will they be able to afford?
  • Ironically, DeVos starts her speech by condemning classrooms for not changing. She says teachers tell students to “sit down, don’t talk, eyes front.” This is not really true, but when children are warehoused in front of screens with no teachers, what will they be told to do? “Sit down, don’t talk, eyes front!”
  • Who’s going to organize students if parents work? Having effective homeschools is not easy. Not everyone wants their child homeschooled.
  • There’s a great deal of discussion about self-directed learning involving children. Children will be expected to learn alone. Sometimes students can teach themselves, but more often they require guidance and an introduction to new material.
  • How will students be evaluated? Who’s going to check for cheating?
  • Parents are already upset about the huge amount of screen time their children get. Do they really want their kids to have to go to school online too?
  • What happens when there is no structure for schooling? Will parents be able to stay home from work to help their students navigate their educational pursuits.

This movement is happening quickly and it comes in many forms. If you hear about something new to your child’s school, or school district, find out what’s behind it. Understand that there’s more to Common Core than Common Core. It’s about the tech revolution in our schools.

Everything you read and hear about public schools today is about this revolution. Common Core was simply a step towards that goal. Technology has always been the elephant in the room.

Good References in Alpha Order (Let me know what I forgot)

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