Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Answer to the Great Question of Education Reform? The Number 42

The Answer to the Great Question of Education Reform? The Number 42

More School Reform Nonsense from the Bloviating Bill and Melinda Gates on American Education!

Seeking commentary, wisdom, and advice from Bill and Melinda Gates on education issues is like asking the Vogon for poetry advice.

I guess if your rich,  people might assume you must have acquired some wisdom? "We all know everyone is an expert on public education, because we all attended to publics school" “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” Confucius The gates want to imitate the the market-based, competitive, technologically oriented system that has no proof of concept in any form as it relates to education! The Gates may want to study The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution when carping about teachers and public education. The Gates idea of education reforms seems like one big mistake especially when compared to countries like Finland that are doing the opposite.

Kids are not products that can be standardized and programmed to perform at the whims of corporations.

"[American children are] not being educated for the - for technology society," Melinda Gates explained to the PBS NewsHour, clearly stating the problem. And since Melinda is married to a billionaire technician, and since their foundation has funded the NewsHour, she too believes she has exclusive access to The Answer for fixing our "fundamentally broken" school system. This Answer is that our school system needs to be updated to a market-based, competitive, technologically oriented system, much like the rest of the 21st century industries. This means more charter schools, more testing, more technology but fewer humans, less job security and no unions to organize the remaining human workers (like the rest of the economy).

Of this, Melinda has no doubt. But Deep Thought might.

The Gates Paradox
For the Gateses and their Silicon Valley disciples who have also invested millions in The Answer - Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix's Reed Hastings - our public school system is really just a large operating system. It is not a messy, social, human enterprise but, rather, a technical problem, one that can be solved through quantification, effective programming and, most of all, through data, data, data - and numerical data, at that, which should be analyzed, evaluated and synthesized by ceaseless computation, preferably by Deep Thought.

These Tech Titans have no doubt about The Answer, no lapse in faith as to its certainty - but no check on their power, no accountability if it turns out to be wrong.
I call it the Gates Paradox - the power of your voice in the "education reform" debate is proportional to the distance from the classroom (and your proximity to Silicon Valley) multiplied by the amount of money you earn. Of course, each additional media outlet owned increases the influence by a factor of ten.

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