Admittedly, Andy Smarick is part Luddite.
From Wikimedia Commons.
I just finished reading the Forbes Magazine profile on Salman Khan. You might want to give it a read.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m somewhere between marginally skeptical and cautiously optimistic when it comes to the proliferation of technology to “individualize” learning.
Admittedly, I’m part Luddite and part contrarian, so I’m predisposed to be chary of this entire field for less than noble reasons. But it seems like the only thing more ubiquitous than new ways to deliver content are the apocryphal claims of their revolutionary nature. (Along these lines, I highly recommend Rich Hess’s thoughts on the Khan article and our history of overhyping and misusing technology.)
But I’m slowly being swayed. On the positive side, a bunch of smart people I know are pretty certain that this really is a disruptive innovation and that things will never be the same once parents realize they can truly direct their children’s education. Also, I’ve read a bunch of RTT-D applications, and, for the most part, they provide some confidence that some LEAs are serious about using newer technologies to truly change instruction.
On the pessimistic side, lots of people predicted that NCLB choice and SES were
One of the many reasons I’m a fan of TBFI is that it conducts two types of policy research that are in short supply. The first, which I will talk about today, is in-the-weeds analyses of subjects that others have glossed over. (The second, studies on subjects we didn’t even realize were important, will be discussed in a future post.)
TBFI's latest in-the-weeds analysis is on teacher-union strength; it goes deeper and reveals far more than the conventional wisdom.
Lots of people talk about the value of tough standards; heck, the “transformative nature” of Common Core has become something between a ubiquitous talking point and Gospel for the reform community. But many of those proselytizing, unfortunately, can’t tell you a whit about what’s actually in these supposedly sacred texts.
Well, TBFI gets into the weeds of standards; they’ve been doing this for ages, even before Common Core was conceived and birthed (yes, it’s true, academic-content standards existed before CC!). In recent months, they’ve analyzed the rigor, meaning, and cost of CC, shedding much light on an important but under-investigated matter.
They’ve done similar digging in on the use of school funds and tech advancements—issues that, like CC, have been given a cursory and laudatory treatment by many. See here for my take on the ed-tech research.
The institute’s latest installment in this area is the very good report on state-level unions. The study goes deeper and reveals far more than the conventional wisdom, which holds—simplistically—that unions are omnipotent and
After reading her third or fourth chapter in the TBFI volume on digital learning, a reader can be forgiven for feeling exhausted and bewildered.
There’s been so much hype about online learning and so many promises of revolutionary impact that entirely too little attention has been given to the staggering obstacles standing between today’s delivery system and that envisioned by technology’s strongest proponents.
This TBFI volume is educational for sure and endlessly fascinating, but, above all else, it is cold-turkey sobering. I previously posted on the papers associated with accountability and educator effectiveness, which described in great detail how our current systems of assessing schools and preparing and evaluating educators are wholly unsuited to the era we’re supposedly entering. While those authors had some valuable suggested courses of action, they most certainly provided no map to carefully guide us past the Sirens and between the Scylla and Charybdis of this odyssey.
John Chubb’s chapter on governance and public policy is, then, much like the Iliad, a description of the single-site war that led to a succession of odd and disparate battles across the entirety of the days’ known landscape. In other words, Chubb’s piece is a prequel to the other chapters; before
Arguably the biggest challenge to moving to digital learning is ensuring that educators are prepared for this massive shift in teaching and learning. Many have argued that our current teacher prep programs don’t do such a great job of getting new teachers ready for today’s schools; given that, it’s hard to believe they are well-positioned to prepare future educators for blended learning, flipped classrooms, personalized instruction, constant data use, and so on.
Seeing districts struggle mightily over Section C of RTT-D, where these issues come to the forefront, has made me realize just how enormous a problem this is; I imagine just about every district in America is going to have to face some variation of this problem over the next five to ten years. (Full disclosure: I’ve been providing advice to a number of districts on their RTT-D applications.)
Well, thank goodness for TBFI’s volume on digital learning!
I consider Bryan Hassel a friend, and I admire his work greatly. But I publicly crossed swords with him and Emily Ayscue Hassel over school turnarounds a couple years back. So I’m no simple shill for their products. But they’ve done us all a service with their
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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