I already had a sense of growing nausea attached to my observations of locals’ infatuation with technology-centric schooling.
It got worse when I read the latest White House fact sheet on Obama’s ConnectEd plan. Utah’s perfectly in line with D.C. –the cool people are dumping the old fashioned notion of using books in schools to spend gobs and gobs and gobbledy-gob-gobs on technology.
Both the left wing (Obama’s ConnectEd plan) and the right wing (Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now) plan to gobbledy-gob our tax dollars on Common Core–aligned, Common Data Standards-aligned technologies –always provided by the same little money-gobbling clique.
Even embedded in the Common Core tests and curriculum is the trendy party line that books are out –because technology is in.
I’m not against technology. I’m against foolishness.
Technology is a great, glittering servant. But it’s a terrible master. Its imperfections can be disastrous. But in Obama’s version of reality, it has no flaws and it deserves our full (tax dollar) attention.
In the White House fact sheet on President Obama’s ConnectED “Plan for Connecting all Schools to the Digital Age” we read that traditional education, the kind that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were raised with, is to be discarded for solely technology-based education:
“Our schools were designed for a different era – based on a limited school day and a seasonal calendar. This system does not take into account the constant learning opportunities of global connectivity…”
(Recall that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been saying for many years that he wants students to attend school 6-7 days per week, up to 14 hours per day, all year round. If you haven’t seen it before, watch that video clip here.)
ConnectED sounds appealing on the surface: upgraded connectivity, reaching out to rural students, exposing students and teachers to new technology. It even appears, on first reading, that ConnectEd promotes local control: “purchasing choices remain in the hands of local educational leaders,” it says.
But remember: when the Gates-owned “Microsoft and its hardware partners unveiled a range of devices at various price points to help U.S. public schools make the digital transition,” it promised: “all of the devices are Common Core testing compliant“. Is there any actual choice here?
Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) is the unshakable shadow to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) –both of which which ConnectEd depends upon, and both CEDS and CCSS come from the same people: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –a private, unelected, nontransparent club of superintendents, financially backed by Gates.
CEDS common data standards ensure that all state databases (aka SLDS) match one another, and that all student and teacher information is fully labeled and compare-able. Thus, there is no room for true diversity among states/schools in this system; no true freedom of thought, no true competitive soaring, just sameness. And because CEDS are used in every state’s longitudinal database, are interoperable with the federal EdFacts Data Exchange, and are no longer protected by federal privacy law, it means also: no guarantee of student data privacy.
Fact: “A continued commitment to disaggregation” of student data is a central goal of the CCSSO Council. These facts make national school interoperability and connectivity sound a lot less peachy.
Still, the Obama and Jeb Bush clique is pushing for a one-size-fits-all national, matching technology system. We are not just to receive the good things touted, like upgraded connectivity and new technology for kids; we are also getting shackled to the CEDS/NCES data collecting system and to the Common Core testing system, and to the corporate educational products that are aligned to these systems.
Additionally, under the misleading subheading “Restoring U.S. Leadership in Vital Areas” the ConnectEd fact sheet touts the end of using actual books in schools, as a good thing.
“The United States is now falling behind… In South Korea, all schools are connected to the internet with high-speed connections, all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.”
Why the hurry? Are people afraid that if they question the race to “phase out books,” they will be labeled “against progress” and out of touch? Are we backwards if we raise an eyebrow at the mad rush toward every student being hooked up to the internet? What are the unintended consequences and opportunity costs of phasing out books and tangible libraries to bring about the brave new unvetted vision of Bill Gates, Marc Tucker, Sir Michael Barber, Obama and Bush?
Studies show that reading a paper-and-ink book is a better, more lasting learning experience than reading electronically. For sobering reasons, top Silicon Valley computer experts send their children to technology-free schools. Education systems can suffer when so many eggs are placed in one basket– and the basket falls. When we become overly reliant on technology, when technology is hacked or when it breaks; when it’s philosophically hijacked by software designers employed by narrow minded politicians, or when it is aligned with consent-less data mining, what then?
Remember the smell of a book and the feeling of paper. Are books suddenly worthless because they are not speedy, networked and electronic? If we don’t invest philosophically and financially in books, soon there won’t be many around.
Please wake up, American leaders and Utah leaders. We can find solutions for increased technology, free from the Obama-Bush-Gates clique’s narrow vision.
Let’s hold on to real books, real libraries, and the time-tested culture of academic freedom and student data privacy. Let’s shake off the chains of common data, common testing, and common data mining that will bind our children down.