Too Good To Be True?


By Alison McDowell
Alison is a parent of a public school student and a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools

February 17, 2016

On February 16, 2016, Diane Ravitch’s blog promoted a vision statement for the future of Texas public education that had been developed by a group of 35 Texas superintendents between 2006 and 2008. If you simply read the excerpted portions quoted on the blog, you’d likely find the sentiments expressed sympathetic to those who oppose the test and punish system. However, if you continued past the first twelve pages of the document, you’d have been abruptly confronted with “Article 1: The New Digital Learning Environment” that is at its core essentially a pitch for online learning. As a parent involved with opt out in Pennsylvania, I found many elements from these pages and the more-detailed tables available in a companion document, eerily similar to changes proposed for the PA school code that are now under consideration in my home state.

The corporate interests aiming to “transform” our schools know what we want to hear. They know we are weary and looking for hope wherever we can find it. They are not above manipulating our emotions to get what they want. They will distract us. They will speak our language, while at the same time sowing seeds like this “Article 1” that are meant to destroy neighborhood public schools. Pay attention and stay on your guard. If it sounds too good to be true…dig down until you find the real truth.

Alison made the following comments on Diane Ravitch’s blog:
Comment #1:

Did anyone read down to page 13, Article 1 “The New Digital Learning Environment?” This document is a slick vehicle for online proficiency/competency-based learning. All the nice things said in all the other sections don’t matter a whit if “virtual learning” holds a place that is “equally valued and supported” as learning with live human teachers in the company of real children (see below). Folks, they want taxpayer funds to support Ed-Tech and content management companies at the same level as actual certified teachers (actually they probably want more, but will settle for a 50/50 split for now).

The TASA folks and the corporate interests whose agendas they are advancing are trying to lull people into a sense complacency, hoping we’ll feel like we’re finally being heard. They presume we aren’t paying close enough to notice the poison pill inserted into the middle of this document. If you don’t believe me. I think the list of “thought leaders” from the mid-winter conference TASA held just a few weeks ago shows just what type of education they are advancing. Not surprisingly there were many online education advocates in the room including Tom Vander Ark.

From Article 1 of this document page 13:

“I.c The potential of learning anywhere, anytime, “any path, any pace” must be embraced. Future learning will be a combination of learning at school, virtual learning, learning at home, and in the community.

I.e Virtual learning should become the norm in every community to meet the needs of students who prefer such an environment.

I.f The secondary school credit system should be expanded beyond school walls so that any place/any time learning, including virtual learning, are equally valued and supported.”

And this language from page 3 is straight out of the CBE playbook :

“J. Schools where students advance based on their learning and performance instead of seat time, courses are dominant over classes, and use of time and space is flexible and innovative.

P. New learning standards dictating major changes in how schools are organized, the assumptions and beliefs on which their culture and structure are based, meaning the factory model must give way to more flexible ways of achieving the standards.”

Comment #2:

This legislation affirming virtual online education in Texas was passed, with significant input from parties like iNACOL in 2013.

Comment #3:

Wow, and if you are looking for a bit more detail on this document, these implementation tables are pretty eye-opening. Just jump right in with Article 1.

Also see:

iNACOL’s Trojan Horse – Save Maine Schools
February 14, 2016

Gates: Funding Reform For Longer Than You Think
Save Maine Schools – February 18, 2016