It seems as if another conference to solve all the problems of American education is going on this week in Silicon Valley, “a big gathering of entrepreneurs, innovators, and educators” at something called the NewSchools Venture Fund summit.
Scan the list of presenters and you’ll find lots of entrepreneurs (aka business people), not much innovation, and precious few educators.
One of the lead speakers is Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York public school system and now working for that bastion of innovative education, NewsCorp. Â Here is how he sees the current path of American education.
Where we are today is a lot better place in terms of discussion, but not in terms of results compared to 10 years ago. What we’re doing now is building a system empowered by technology with a huge infusion of private capital aimed at bringing a total delivery system. Eventually, we’ll have far fewer teachers who are paid much more. Education would be data-driven, customized, will engage kids, differentiate instruction, and value human capital in a different way. What we’re doing now is trying to reform a broken delivery system rather than create an effective delivery system.
Viewing school as a “delivery system” is a huge part of our problem. Â It’s tied directly to the classic concept of students as vessels to be filled with knowledge by the teacher.
Organizing schools as “delivery systems” is the status quo that Kline and other high profile education “reformers” say anyone who is not on their side is defending.
FedEx is a delivery system. It’s not what education should be.
As to Kline and his credibility as an education “innovator”, this pretty much says it all:
The term Klein uses to refer to the public education system – a “government-run monopoly” – is one used often by those who seek an end to the public education system in favor of privately run schools. As if private concerns can always be trusted to keep the needs of the country, rather than profits, front and center, just like they did when they practically wrecked the U.S. financial system.
Accusing several million teachers of being lazy and caring only for their pensions won’t improve public schools. Using questionable methods to evaluate teachers won’t either. And turning the public education system, a civic institution that is not a business and should not be run as one, into “a competitive marketplace,” as Klein suggests, will cause enormous damage that leaves far more kids behind than there are now.