Education In The State Of The Union

What to make of the education elements of the President’s speech last night?  Not that much, to be honest.  For all the media attention the event generates it’s just a speech — one given during an election year; a week, a month, a year from now, the real-world impact of Obama’s remarks will be minimal.  (Obama can call for states to raise the mandatory attendance age to 18 but he doesn’t have a magic wand to make it happen anytime soon.) In terms of political theater, however, the event was rich and textured.  One of the valiant Chester Upland teachers who’s working without pay was sitting with the First Lady.  Classroom teachers, the President has not forgotten you.  (Also sitting with the First Lady was a recently-homeless Siemens Science contest winner and a rising TFA corps member from Colorado.)  The President asserted the oft-made [but misleading, I think] claim that the Race To The Top competition resulted in changes in nearly every state’s education laws for very little money.  (The spreadsheet showing the state changes illustrates the minimal, preliminary nature of many of the states’ legislative changes made in hopes of winning the federal funding.  NPR’s Claudio Sanchez notes that even those who won the money are struggling to make good on their promises.)  The President called for an end to teacher-bashing, which seems like a decent and politically smart thing to do, at the same time he bragged about moving responsibility for education back to the states (via NCLB waivers), which I see as a politically smart move that’s problematic at a substantive level.  (I’m not alone in worrying about the NCLB waiver process — several civil rights, disability, and minority groups are opposed to the accountability rollbacks in state waiver plans.)  I’ll stop there — what did you think, or did you not bother?


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  • Headache 299
    I think Obama is full of lies - he excellerated nclb damage, rewards states for passing legislation that recedes civil rights, stuffed his pockets with corporate cash - newt is just as bad - he wants to strike child labor laws and put kids back to least he has a plan for reducing class sizes...

  • Headache 299
    I think you mean accelerate -

  • Headache 299
    no - I mean Excel-microsoft-bill-gates-erate - as in the misuse of data

  • Once upon a time in the not so distant future, just 2 institutions of higher learning remained, MIT and Stanford. They were the first implementers of putting all their coursework online, and their prestige and timing allowed them to survive. Anyone in the world could take their courses and earn a grade - for free. It became the new figure of merit, the GPA from MIT or Stanford.

    Students earning high GPA's could apprentice at research institutes, labs that were once research universities. Since teaching was no longer required, professors there concentrated in what they were really interested, research. Students excelling under the tutelage of the professors could become masters themselves eventually, or go off into the world, Asia in particular, to work on their ideas.

    Apple and Samsung handed out new ipads or tablets every year to everyone in the world, including those in Chicago. From these tablets, all manner of intellectual activity could now be performed including elementary and high school education. Content suppliers now worked with Zynga and other game designers to produce apps for the tablets that could allow any person to self pace their education, all the way to Stanford and MIT.

    Brick and mortar colleges and universities were now shuttered, as were elementary schools and high schools. Libraries were no longer needed. All books were now online, and everyone in the world had a tablet or ipad. All activities that required thinking could now be done online, such as ordering mattresses, paying bills, buying saffron, trading stocks and bonds. Big Box stores were now gone, as were most government buildings and agencies. Fewer cars were now on the roads as people had less occasion to drive to work.

    Those who were intellectually capable emigrated to China and India, the production centers of the world. Everything that could be purchased online came from there. That's where bright ideas and the fruits of knowledge were cultivated.

    Acitivites that attended to basic physical and spiritual needs were performed by everyone else - food, shelter, clothing, health. People worked at distribution centers, delivery companies, restaurants, hotels, and hospitals. Some people became self-sufficient - they raised food on empty lots.

    Many cities turned into Detroits - cities that had lost their ability to generate wealth. Tourists that once frequented the bustle of Michigan Ave. in Chicago no longer did so, as there was nothing to see other than the entertainment district downtown.

    But soon, people saw that the lowest price was not everything. They learned about value. What was the value of having an iPad if the people who produced it in China were treated like indentured servants? Wouldn't one pay more for a tablet made correctly, functionally and socially? Isn't it worth the extra cost to buy a car made domestically if it means that that extra dollar circulates around the economy generating more wealth? Isn't it worth it to spend the extra dollar in our schools to show them that the world is more than just something on an iPad screen? What is the value of an unexamined life? Who would teach them this?

  • No one--no one would know how to or what to or why to do it. We would be in the pursuit of a doomed utopia. I am half a C old--glad it will not be completed for me to experinece it in my lifetime.

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