The Education Revolution—we hear these words a lot lately referring to public schools.
Public schools have always incorporated changes to the curriculum. Some have worked and some have not. But the overhaul to make technology-driven charter schools is unproven and drastic.
Here’s a list of Silicon Schools. They are charter schools. Groups like the Relay Graduate School and Teach for America help run them.
Such extreme changes to break up the structure of public education creates serious gaps in what students learn. And, as taxpayers, we have little say concerning such unproven experimentation.
There is little viable research supporting technology in the classroom. The research that exists thus far is not good.
- In 2015, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development did a huge study involving computer use. They found students who used computers the most did worse.
- In 2016, according to the Economics of Education Review, high-achieving eighth-graders who took Algebra 1 online did worse than students who took the same test with teachers in a traditional classroom.
These schools are the choice dream of Betsy DeVos and her corporate friends. They’re marketed with slick advertising. Often students appear in pictures to be doing advanced scientific experiments. The truth is, there’s little accountability.
To illustrate concern as to how these schools are organized, here’s a comment I received last September from a young woman who once attended a High Tech High charter school. I wrote about High Tech High a few years back. These schools are supported by Bill Gates, the Waltons, and others.
Comment by Annabel Griffith about High Tech High (with permission).
I actually went to High Tech High Media Arts. It was so different from my expectations. We just worked on projects all year and learned practically nothing. I learned a lot of woodworking skills, but no math or science. I took a chemistry class where we made a soap company and I did not even know what pH was. I never learned how to format an essay, how to study, how to balance chemical equations, how to factor, how to take notes, or even how to use a textbook. I noticed these flaws in my sophomore year and became increasingly concerned, so I went up to teachers and my director and asked about it. They just avoided my questions, would not let me do independent study, and completely disregarded my needs. I was getting over 100%’s in every class without any effort. There were no AP classes or even any separate honors classes. I was as dumb as the most unmotivated student wanted to be. And there was no discipline. It was a mess. So, I applied to the most academically rigorous school I could find and when I got there the next year, I was in for a christening by fire. I attended HTH since 6th grade and had fallen way behind. I could not takes notes, I thought the Revolutionary and Civil wars were the same thing, I knew no science and I had to take geometry as a junior. Now, I’m not an imbecile. I received a 33 on my ACT and I try really hard. But HTH put a huge roadblock in my path to success. I’m still in high school, trying to overcome my HTH handicap. So, not only does this system fail the kids who cannot get in, but also those who attend.
Annabel is one student. How many other students are missing out on the critical knowledge young people have always learned in traditional public schools?
To summarize, watch for the words Education Revolution. In most cases it will be referring to the transformation of public education to technology without professional teachers. It isn’t what it seems. Not all change is good change.
Americans still have control of their public schools through their local school boards. There are ways we all can help.
- Run for school board positions, or campaign for the best candidates.
- Pay attention to the issues and get behind students.
- Work with parents to get schools that will be best for their children.
- Support public school teachers who do the heavy lifting.
- Attend sports events and high school plays.
- Connect with groups and other individuals who care about public education.
Public schools belong to all of us. Let’s work together to save our democratic public schools in 2018.
Happy New Year!